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Wine Tasting Parties

by Staff Writer - C. Barnett | March 27, 2011

A Wine Tasting Party is a great way to have guests get together to learn about wine, share their favorite wines and experiment with new or unusual wines. First you need to decide which type of Wine Tasting Party you would like to host. A Wine Tasting Party can be anything you want it to be and there are several different types of standard Wine Tasting Parties including: Traditional, Horizontal, Vertical and Blind Taste.

Traditional Wine Tasting Parties

A Traditional Wine Tasting Party normally has some sort of structure which includes a leader. The leader is knowledgeable about the wines being served and is able to discuss and answer questions about the wines. If you are not knowledgeable about the wine or are not comfortable in the leader role, then it is suggested that you find someone to fulfill this role for you. You could call a wine store or a restaurant that serves wine and ask for recommendations.

Vertical Wine Tasting Parties

To host a Vertical Wine Tasting Party, you serve several bottles of the same wine from the same producer, but from different vintages. You are comparing how different each year of the same wine can be. For example, you could serve a White Oak Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley from 2002, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005. Tasting the same varietal of wines from the same maker and the same vineyard and leaving the production year as the only variable shows how dramatic or subtle a wine changes from year to year. You will get a better feel for a particular winery’s varietal style and composition with this type of tasting. You can also see how unique weather patterns may affect the grapes from one year to the next.

Horizontal Wine Tasting Parties

In a Horizontal Wine Tasting Party you will serve the same kind of wine from the same year from the same general area or region, but from different producers. For example you would serve a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley from 2007 from various wineries. Some of the choices you would need to consider would be whether or not you would want all of the wines to be from the same area or region. It is your choice whether you would prefer to mix it up a little or keep it a traditional Horizontal Wine Tasting Party.

Blind Wine Tasting Parties

If you serve a Blind Wine Tasting Party then you will hide the identity of the wines while they are being served and tasted. If the wine labels are hidden, then no one is influenced by the reputation of a particular region, vintage or winery. The wines are judged on individual tastes alone.

Old World Versus New World Wine tasting Parties

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If you host an Old World vs. New World Wine Tasting Party then you will serve wines that compare a grape varietal grown in the Old World (Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain) with the same grape varietal grown in the New World (Australia, New Zealand, North America, South America, South Africa). For example, you could compare a California Sauvignon Blanc with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; or a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with a French Cabernet Sauvignon.

It is noted that the Old World wine flavors are more subtle and reserved and the New World wines are bolder and more intense. The grapes soil location is key and part of the tradition for Old World wine grapes; where the New World wines are comfortable mixing grapes from different locations to create the best bottle of wine.

When you are planning your wine purchases, remember that a “tasting” serving is much smaller than the typical four or five ounce glass of wine. About two ounces of wine is the norm for tasting. You can get about eight to ten servings from a standard bottle of wine. As with the sequence of wines for a dinner party, the general guidelines are white before red, light before heavy, and dry before sweet. Also note that certain foods have a place at winetasting. It can be as simple as some unsalted crackers for guests to cleanse their palates between wines, to bread and cheese. At a structured Wine Tasting Party, you don’t want the food to interfere with the taste of the wines being served.

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Items to have on hand for your Wine Tasting Party:

  • Wine Glasses
  • Water, for rinsing palates between wines
  • Dump Bucket, for emptying wine before the next pouring
  • Wine Bottle Coverings, if you are doing a blind wine tasting party
  • Food or Appetizers or Bread; to help cleanse the palate and to eat before the tastings

A Wine Tasting Party can be anything you want it to be. Consider the type of Wine Tasting Party you would like to host. Decide if you want your party to be structured and informative or more relaxed and casual, or create your own party that mixes a little bit of everything.

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