Wine Tasting Party | The Geneva Convention: Wine Tasting Party

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wine Tasting Party

We had a wine expert resident for the weekend after Thanksgiving, and decided to take advantage of that to host a wine tasting. There are many different schools of thought on how best to do this, so I won't pretend this is the be-all, end-all of wine tasting methods, but this is what we did:

Between us and our guests, we hosted a total of ten people. We asked each family/couple attending to bring 1-2 bottles of wine (I'll give more specifics on that in a minute), and bring an appetizer to pass. We supplied a few bottles of our own and a few appetizers -- pate and a cheese plate. (Side note: have you ever tried Winter Gouda? It's filled with pepper and nutmeg and it is my new favorite cheese. Try it!)

Cheese Plate Wine Tasting
Appetizers Wine Tasting

We were careful not to serve anything too strong before the tasting, to preserve the palette.

For the tasting itself, we served only the finest wines.

Bota Box Wine Tasting

(That's a joke, obviously!)

We put out water (for sipping and for rinsing out glasses between wines), a couple bowls of coffee beans (good for resetting the nose), and pretzel bites (to cleanse the palette). We provided each setting with a pencil and a worksheet for describing the wines -- not everyone used this as extensively as I did, but we had a number of wine amateurs in the group (myself included) and I found the categories on the worksheet extremely helpful in learning how to taste and what to taste for.

Wine Tasting Table Setting

We considered having a tasting of a specific variety of grape, but since most of our guests knew very little about wine, we decided instead to do a "Wines from Around the World" theme. We assigned each collection of guests a region of the world and asked them to bring either their favorite wine from that area, or something interesting they had never tried before. Here's what we ended up with (and the order in which we drank them -- whites, then reds, dry to sweet):

Wine Tasting

Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand to represent the South Pacific
Ruppertsberger Riesling from Germany to represent Europe
Santa Julia Pinot Grigio from Argentina to represent South America
Nouveau Beaujolais-Villages from France to represent Europe
A Heritage Blend of Red Grapes from New York to represent North America
Casillero del Diablo Malbec from Chile to represent South America
A Red Zinfandel from New York to represent North America

Both of the North American wines were made by my uncle (the wine expert), who helped a lot in leading the tasting and telling us what to look for. I don't often enjoy reds, but I always love his -- they're dry, but very smooth and easy to drink. I liked all the wines, but my favorites were the Cupcake and my uncle's Heritage Blend.

Wine Tasting Table Setting

We finished off the night with a collection of desserts. I was already about two glasses in at that point, and we were about to play spoons, so taking pictures of them completely slipped my mind, but the Strawberry Mousse Cups were the prettiest, and you saw them last week! We set them out with slivers of pie and cheesecake leftover from Thanksgiving and a bowl of cream puffs.

I highly recommend throwing a wine tasting, especially if you have a friend or two who knows what they're doing. Even if you're going in blind and leaderless, it would be fun! We think next time we might narrow the parameters a little bit so we can appreciate the subtleties in a certain variety of grape, but this was a great way to test the waters. I can now define and identify things like tannin and legs!

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