Wine takes center stage at tasting parties: a great way to share your favorites and learn about others’. Follow these easy steps for an event that’s better than presents! Tis’ the season lovers of wine! So while those jingles jangle, IWA has lined up seven merry posts just ahead of prime party season featuring holiday entertaining tips sure to inspire and delight. In fact, make us your go-to for all hosting and gifting needs: our unique, high-quality merchandise makes every celebration enjoyable and memorable. Cheers!
Choose a Theme
Guests bring bottles that tie-in.
- A grape varietal, (‘Pinot Noirs’)
- One step further—varietals from a specific region, i.e. Willamette Valley, Burgundy, or Sonoma
- A price range, (Under $15/$30/$60).
- Old World vs. New World;
- Verticals, (same wine/winery: different vintages) or
- Vintages, (same varietal & year from various vintners)
- Perfect food-pairs, (Complements Asian, Italian, Seafood, or Dessert).
- Movies, books, even songs with wine lyrics: (The Godfather, A Movable Feast, or a 70s party!)
Choose a Format
Tasters see bottles while tasting and evaluating.
Display chilled wines in the stunning Italesse LED Chilling Tub: a lightweight, oversize ice bucket outfitted with a snowy glow.
Over-chilling masks important flavors. Adjust ice to hold the mercury at the proper range:
|Asti Spumanti 41°||Viognier & Sauternes 52°||Reds in general 63°-66°|
|Ice Wines 43°||Rosés & Beaujolais 54°||Port – vintage or madeiras, 67°|
|Champagne & Lambrusco 45°||Pinot Noirs, Barbera d’Astis & Zinfandels under $18 – typically benefit from 57°-60°|
|Riesling 47°||Port – non-vintage & tawnies, 57°|
Bottles and labels are hidden during pouring and tasting.
For tasters who appreciate guesswork before a big ‘reveal’: brown-bag, gift-bag, or wrap bottles, then number and log on a master list (seen only by the Host.) Guests may initial their bottles and bring pre-concealed, too. In that case, the Host simply assigns numbers on arrival. These convenient Slate Bottle Tags do the trick!
For a notch above, these small carafes neatly present wines to be tasted on a pretty barrel stave and adds an elegant, sophisticated touch: Wine Flight – Barrel Stave Set.
Eyes will ‘pop’ as if Santa himself welcomed guests in once they catch a glimpse of the Glass Globe Display Rack brimming with 42 Ultima-brand wine glasses—favored by winery tasting rooms for their elegance and resiliency. (Even better, enjoy 26% savings by purchasing together!)
Or, perhaps you prefer to substitute the delicately-etched wintry wine glass collections from either European glassmakers Lucca or Ligne? We get it! Frosty vines have never looked so welcoming!
Next, it’s time to ’charm’ your guests—literally! Keeping track of everyone’s glass is a snap with these festive magnetic holiday-theme glass markers. However, if you’re expecting a lot of guests (or using multiple glasses-per-guest), try mixing-and-matching multiple styles from our variety of wine glass markers and charms.
Provide one evaluation sheet per taster.
Click here for sample evaluation sheet
Bouncing around like a schizophrenic elf makes wines more forgettable! ‘Palate protection’ means sampling in an order that maximizes flavors:
- whites before reds,
- lightest to heaviest,
- dry before “fruity”.
…are meant to deliver a wine’s essence in two sips. Bottles provide about five (5-ounce) glasses, but tastings are restrained to one ounce for the Serious; two for the Social (plenty of time to revisit favorites after sampling and evaluating!)
Dumping & spitting
Normally party faux pas, both are recommended to curb palate fatigue—the condition that makes wines become indiscernible from each other. Wine-Tasting Buckets and water pitchers should be placed around the area for tasters to spit or discard wines and ever-so-lightly rinse strong flavors before refilling. Plain crackers and bread between samples help, too.
As wines are unveiled, ask guests to share with the group a story or the significance of their wine contribution!
Bonus: Taste Like the Pros!
Delight the naughty and the nice folks on your list: elevate your event to a “mock professional” setting.
Ever wonder what those silver medals hanging on ribbons around somms’ necks are called? It’s a ‘tastevin’, (pronounced: task/ tequila/ vahn), and our Pulltex Glass Tastevin looks less pretentious, accommodates the perfect judge-worthy pour, and is transparent for improved inspection.
Next, we bet the Ghost of Christmas Future would have gone a little easier on Scrooge had he known they could taste wine in his preferred time zone without leaving the house! The Clef du Vin is another nifty little number pros use: it fast-forwards aging by one year for every solid second the wine rests on the patented surface—practically a Christmas miracle for cellar-dwellers!
Last but not least is the ingenious Coravin Wine System: technology that allows wine to be extracted from closed bottles with medical precision while leaving the cork fully intact. It’s the perfect way to sample seriously amazing wines without committing to finishing or compromising an entire beauty.
So taste away this holiday season; and don’t forget to share all your great photos and tasting-party ideas in our Comments section or using the hashtag #IWAwine on social media!
Lori Stevens is a writer based in Seattle, Washington. Her book Wine: A No-Snob Guide, Drink Outside the Box ©2015 from Rockridge Press, Berkeley, CA is available at your favorite online book retailer. Many of her international wine travel articles are available on this blog.