What a great way to spend a Friday night with your wine-loving friends!
- Your friends should plan to bring seven glasses (the extra glass is for water), so you can taste the wine side by side – it’s the only way to make a real comparison. Plus, it’s more fun! The glasses will travel safely in a wine-case box. The dividers keep the glasses from clinking and breaking en route.
- Buy a package of legal-sized, white paper to serve as a placemat for each person. The best way to check the color and clarity is to put the glass at a 45-degree angle against the white background.
- Large paper cups make good spittoons for the designated drivers.
- Cocktail napkins
You can download and print a tasting score sheet, free. Just do a search on “wine-tasting score sheet”. It’s fun to rank the wines most favorite to least favorite and then compare scores with your friends. You can also average the scores to reveal the group favorite.In order to detect the subtle differences between the wines, the only food that should be served during the tasting is bland crackers (Bremner or Carrs wafers work well) or bread (no sour dough). That doesn’t mean you can’t bring out some cheeses or hors d’oeuvres later, after the evaluation is over! If your friends are eager to learn more about wine, you might do some research on the characteristics of the variety and the region(s) represented. The night of the tasting:
- Put out a placemat, score sheet, spittoon and napkin for each guest
- Provide a pitcher of water so folks can clear their palates between tastes
- Prepare any food you plan to serve later in the evening
- Get a calculator
- If you bought the wine, de-foil it, open it and put it back in the bag. Mark the bags A through F
When your friends arrive:
- If your friends bring the wine, without removing the bags, quickly defoil and open the bottles – no peeking! – and mark the bags A through F
- Have each person set out six tasting glasses on the placemat and write down corresponding letter names, A through F, from left to right.
- Pour the wines and let the fun begin!
Some prefer to smell each wine, first, before tasting. Others smell and taste each as they go. Most pros will taste through the wines twice, at least, and may then go back to certain wines to reaffirm the original impression.The tasters can write down their impressions and what they like or don’t like about each wine on the score sheet. The wine they like best is #1, second best #2 and so forth. This will probably take about 20 – 30 minutes. Note: It’s a funny thing about wine – it changes as it sits there in the glass! Sometimes a wine that, initially, seemed to have very little character opens up like a lovely, fragrant flower (thanks to aeration) as the minutes go by. There’s no law against changing your mind about which is your favorite! And, it’s another good reason to go through the wines more than once. Also: Encourage everyone to save a little of each wine for tasting and discussion once the scores have been announced. The beauty of tasting in a group is we each bring different strengths to the tasting table. The person next to you might notice the oaky flavors more easily than you, where you might be more sensitive to the tannins, so you all learn from each other. Once you hear what others have to say about the wine, it’s fun to go back and try it again. When the noise level increases, it’s good indicator that most everyone is finished scoring the wines. Just check to see if anyone wants more time.