We all know that wine tastings can be incredibly fun. But every once in a while, they can be a bit overwhelming. Too much wine. Too much food. Too much noise. Too much excitement. I know. It’s hard to believe. But it can happen. Here are three tips for a successful wine tasting.
Successful Wine Tasting Tip #1: Define the Purpose of the Wine Tasting
Why are you hosting or participating in a wine tasting event? This may sound silly. Obviously, people taste wine to see what kind of wine they like.
Wait, though. Not so fast. There really are a whole lot of reasons for wanting to host a wine tasting.
- Perhaps you just want a great excuse to introduce your best friend to the future love of his life.
- Maybe you want to dig down into a particular type of wine, say Cabernet. You could have each attendee bring a bottle, put each bottle in a brown bag, number them 1 to 8, and see which one is liked best. Is it the $30 wine, the $40 wine or the Three Buck Chuck? Is it the CA wine, the French wine or the Chilean wine?
- Perhaps you are celebrating somebody’s birthday. You will want to have plenty of wines that align with that person’s wine preferences.
- Maybe you’re interested in a vertical tasting where you taste a number of years (vintages) of a particular wine – e.g., 2003 – 2009.
- How about a regional tasting – Rhone wines, Mendocino wines, Chilean wines, etc?
- Another possibility is that you and your friends would like to learn more about wine. If you’re doing this tasting without a leader, have each attendee come with one interesting wine factoid that they can share.
- Maybe you are settling a bet with Cousin Marcel, who simply knows that French wines are the best.
- You might decide to do a blind tasting to see where your “wine prejudices” are and how skilled you are at identifying wines. Blind tastings can be incredibly fun and incredibly humbling 🙂
- Since purchasing is usually part of a wine tasting, the try-before-you-buy concept is another great reason to host a tasting or participate in one. It’s time to stock up your wine bar!
By knowing the real purpose of your wine tasting, you will be able to tailor the wines, the food and the mood for a great result.
Successful Wine Tasting Tip #2: If Tasting Wine for Wine’s Sake
Be sure to have very simple foods available:
- 3-4 cheeses including a brie or goat cheese, a dry cheddar and a blue cheese, if you’re serving big, bad reds
- Water crackers or sliced baguette
- Dark chocolate
- Berries or grapes
Ideally, you want foods that will support and enhance the wine-tasting experience, not overtake it.
Beware of taste-bud fatigue. If you taste too much or too long, eventually your senses really can’t make any reasonable discernment.
Successful Wine Tasting Tip #3: If Tasting at a Commercial Winery
The mood of a commercial tasting room can greatly enhance or detract from a wine tasting experience. If you like a quiet atmosphere, you might call ahead to find out if there is a time of day when the tasting room is less visited, or go during the week as opposed to a busy weekend. I’ve known people who have left a tasting room because of lousy service, or a boisterous, big crowd. Also, avoid tasting to the point of impairment, or be sure to have a designated driver. It’s no fun to taste wine if you’re worried about your safety.
So here’s to happy, exciting wine tasting experiences!
If you are interested in having me lead a wine tasting for you and your friends, I would be delighted. To learn more about my tastings, please visit the Personal Wine Tastings page of my blog or call me at 650-714-7009.