If you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday night and you’d like it to involve wine, why not have a wine tasting? You can have your own casual wine tasting at home and invite your friends. It’s a great way to kill a weekend night and also learn about different wines in the process.
What to Drink
There are several ways you can choose wines, depending on your taste and your wine knowledge. You can:
- Pick several wines you’ve heard about but haven’t tried yet
- Ask everybody to bring their favorites
- Choose a certain type of wine or wines from a certain region to compare
- Pick a bunch of wines from different regions
- Have a blind tasting. This means wrapping the bottles in tinfoil or covering them in some other way so no one knows what’s what. They have to guess.
A good wine tasting usually has 4 to 8 wines. With any more, all the different flavors get hard to tell apart. With any less, let’s be honest and admit that you’re just killing a couple of bottles of wine with friends!
Wine Tasting Supplies
It only takes a few simple supplies to get your tasting started. You need a table and a sink nearby for washing out glasses. Each person will have one glass and you’ll wash them between drinks. There’s no need to prepare and wash a thousand glasses. Opinions differ on this, but egg-shaped glasses generally work quite well. You can see the wine well and easily get a sniff of it.
Prepare pens and paper. If you’d like, you can prepare your own custom tasting sheet. Before the tasting starts, create criteria for judging wines and make sure you explain it to everybody before you get started.
Whether or not to have food is up to you. Some people serve cheese and appetizers, but you have to be careful that the food matches the wine being served. If the wine and food clash, it’ll ruin everything. One option is to have bread or something else neutral like crackers to cleanse the pallet after each tasting.
You may want to have a spittoon. At official wine tastings, drinkers don’t actually drink. After swishing it around in their mouths, they spit it back out. Otherwise each successive bottle starts to get higher and higher ratings.
Serving the Wine
Wines should be served at a moderate temperature ideally between 60 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit (between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius). If wine is served too cold, it loses its flavor. If it’s too warm, you’ll taste more of the alcohol. The only wines you should serve chilled are sparkling wines. Warm sparkling wine tastes like lukewarm soda.
One more note about temperature – hold your wine glasses by the stem so that the warmth of your hand doesn’t warm up the wine. People don’t just hold the glass that way to look pseudo-sophisticated.
Judging the Wine
Wine tastings aren’t just about taste. It all starts with how the wine looks. Does it have a consistent color all the way through? Is it murky? Hold the glass against a white wall or tablecloth so you can see the color.
The smell is also important. Close your eyes and take a good whiff while swirling the wine around to release its aroma. There’s nothing too complex here. Does it smell nice? What does it smell like? Some of the world’s most famous wines are as much known for their smell as their taste.
Finally, take a sip. Mix it around all the areas of your tongue. Try to breathe slightly while it’s in your mouth so you can get the aroma. Pay attention to the texture.
Rate each on your paper according to their sight, smell and taste.
A great way to learn more about wine tastings is to hit a few in your local area. You’ll get some ideas for holding your own and also learn more about wine.