Question from Gina: I want to have a wine-tasting party. Is there a correct order to serve the wines?
Reply: Hi, Gina. Thanks for writing! How great – I know it will be really fun! Tasting order is pretty simple:
Whether it’s a party or a formal tasting, it’s smart to serve the wines from light to dark and dry to sweet. The wines with deeper color are usually “bigger”, or heavier, than the lighter colored ones. If you taste the big wine first, the lighter wine seems almost flavorless. It applies to white wines, too. If the Sauvignon Blanc is paler than the Chardonnay, unless it’s unusually assertive in flavor, serve it first.
Dry is the opposite of sweet (it doesn’t mean sour, which is a sign of a spoiled wine. It just means there’s so little sugar in the wine that it’s unnoticeable). If you taste a sweet wine, followed by a dry one, the dry wine tastes sour.
The same theory works with food and wine pairing. If you pair sweet food with dry wine the wine will taste sour. The wine should be at least as sweet as the food.
Speaking of pairings, you might want to serve a little something to complement each wine. If you prefer a low-impact evening, you could have each of your friends bring a favorite pairing, which could make for a really fun contest. Everyone could vote on the best pairing! If you want to evaluate the wines, you might have everyone taste the wines without any food first. You’ll be surprised by how much the food changes the wine and perhaps your preferences!
Other things to add to the fun:
- Make sure you have enough wine! There are about twelve 2-oz. pours per bottle
- Get some wine charms so folks can keep track of their glasses
- Brown bag the wines for a “blind” tasting. It’s amazing what you don’t know, when you don’t know! You could have a multiple-choice “test” and give a prize to the person who comes the closest to guessing what the wine is.
- Download a little information about each wine. The winery website is usually on the back label and they’ll have “wine maker notes” available there.
- Have a battle of the varieties or the region. Taste three Chardonnays from Sonoma and three from the Willamette Valley. Or three brands of Sauvignon Blanc from the same region to see if there’s a consensus on the “winner”.
Anybody want to add any suggestions? Gina – I hope you’ll write back to let us know how it goes. You’ll probably come up with suggestions of your own! Cheers!
Subscribe To subscribe by email go to home page, right column