Wine Tasting with Friends
Invite your ‘wine friends’ around and learn more about the pleasures of wine
Get your friends together
Running a wine tasting night is a good opportunity to bring friends and family together for a social event and it’s a great way of learning about wine and keeping everyone entertained.
Sometimes it’s just a case of getting together with friends, family or neighbours or a good reason to have a girl’s night in!
Pick a theme
Rather than grabbing a random bunch of bottles from the ‘on-offer’ section of the nearest supermarket, focus on a particular theme. This can be anything, for example a particular grape variety such as Chardonnay with a selection of Chardonnay wines from around the world, or it could be a region with all wines selected from within the region.
Alternatively, you may feel like indulging in a Champagne & Sparkling Wine Tasting or to theme your evening around a certain country or food, such as Spanish wine tasting with tapas or Italian wines and pizza!
Essentially, there’s no limit, but having a theme makes life a bit easier for the host and fun for the guests to work out, or guess!
“Staying in” is the “new going out” – so arrange a night-in at your place to suit everyone.
Pick the night
“Staying in” is the “new going out” – so arrange a night-in at your place to suit everyone. Once you’ve hosted your party, one of your friends or family can host the next tasting night. You don’t need me to tell you about drinking on school nights! Suffice to say, if you suffer after wine tasting, go moderately or avoid school nights!
How many wines?
In the words of Jancis Robinson “You can learn far more by comparing two wines than by sampling just one at a time” so there needs to be at least 2 bottles to allow comparison. Ideally, we find 6 bottles to be ideal and having experienced 12 bottles in an evening, on more than one occasion, we can safely say, all expert tasting, sampling and note sharing and common sense goes out the window.
As some tasting takes place on “school nights”, quite often the bottles don’t get finished, so we share out the leftovers – usually by playing ‘heads or tails’.
Covering the cost of the wine
We’ve done this a few ways;
- We’ve let the host pay for everything – wine and food – and then as the group has hosted subsequent parties, the respective host returns the favour and pays for everything. This is okay and fair until someone wants to ‘duck-out’ and miss their turn.
- The host can select the wines and the costs are split equally amongst each guest. Agree an up-front budget to avoid surprises, say £10 – £30 per person, depending upon the number of wines and their price point.
- Everyone brings a bottle of wine to the party from the agreed price point / region style etc.
It’s fun varying the cost of the bottles and finding a lovely cheap and cheerful bottle in amongst some of the more expensive ones. This a one of the delights of our tastings.
Tasting a lot of wines is essential to the learning process and sociable tastings are one way to do that.
What about food?
With people working later and travelling longer these days, it’s not always easy to eat beforehand, so we find it better to include some food at the wine tasting party. It’s amazing and interesting to see how wines can change for better or worse with food.
It’s entirely up to you, but we normally split the cost of the wines and the host organises and pays for the food – that way no-one feels they have to lay on a great spread or contribute to something that they might not have chosen to eat.
The only rule we have is that all the wines should be tasted before we start on the food.
This is just for fun, right?
A wine tasting group is definitely fun, but it can turn into something more if you want it to. As with most things, success is a matter of natural aptitude combined with hard work. Tasting a lot of wines is essential to the learning process and sociable tastings are one way to do that.
Some folks will take it more seriously than others, whilst some will treat it as a social occasion with a sprinkle of fun and learning thrown in.
Our friends have definitely improved their wine knowledge and find it much easier to navigate their way through the vast choice of wines from a shopping trip or eating out.
Equipment for wine tasting
The main equipment is wine glasses. Referring back to Jancis Robinson she said “You need only one shape and size of wine glass, even for champagne and strong wines. The most important things are that it is plain, has a stem and goes in towards the rim so that you can safely swirl the wine and maximise its aroma.” A popular option is the standard ISO glass, but essentially any glass to meet Jancis’ recommendation will suffice.
Other bits and bobs are cork screw, possibly bags to hide the wines, spittoons, note pads and pencils.
Go on – what are you waiting for
Get a wine tasting event organised and let us know how you get on.