So you've decided to dive in and host a wine tasting party. Good for you...they are lots of fun and relatively easy parties to plan and host. One of the ways to make the planning and the hosting of the party easy on yourself is to chose a theme for your wine party. Here's six great themes to consider for any wine tasting you're hosting. Throw in some cheese and a few appetizers and you're set.
"Horizontal Wine Tasting"
In a horizontal tasting you are focused on one wine variety from a single year yet from multiple vineyards and producers. For example, you could focus on a 2003 Chenin Blanc from four to six different wineries.
With a horizontal tasting the variables to consider are whether you would like to taste wines from the same region or whether you would like to mix it up and feature the same wine and year from different regions such as a 2003 Chenin Blanc from California, Italy, and Australia. Using the same region would be using all 2003 Chenin Blancs from lets say the Napa Valley.
"Vertical Wine Tasting"
Vertical wine tastings are conducted by tasting one wine variety (such as a Chenin Blanc) from the same wine producer but from several different vintages (years). With this type of tasting you get a feel for a particular producer's varietal style and composition.
For example you can set up a tasting featuring Keyes Vineyard Merlot from 2002, 2003 and 2004. The only variable in this type of tasting is the year which allows the wine tasters to see how dramatic or subtle a vineyards wine can change from year to year.
It might be interesting for this type of tasting to get literature on the particular wine and winemaker to determine if they had a tough year with weather or insects or were there changes made to the production of the wine in a particular year such as the barrels they were using. These would all be fun points of conversation at a wine tasting party.
"Priceless Wine Tasting"
Priceless tasting keeps the bias out of the wine tasting game. With this type of wine tasting the price of the various wines are withheld. Your tasters are able to be completely objective about the wines because they do not know if they are drinking a $120 bottle of Cabernet Savignon or a $10 bottle of Cabernet Savignon.
It is only natural that people perceive the higher priced wines to be the better tasting wines. At time this may be the case, however marketing and label recognition are often responsible for the higher priced wines selling better and it has nothing to do with the actual quality of the wine. In priceless wine tasting the wine itself cannot be judged by it's label...or for that matter it's price.
"Price Point Wine Tasting"
This type of tasting features wines in a similar price range. For example you may choose to serve different varietals of Cabs in the under $20 price range or Merlot in the under $40 range. There's a lot of flexibility in this type of wine party. The goal is to keep the wines comparable in baseline price...
"The Big Eight Wine Tasting"
The goal of this tasting is to let your guests work their way through all eight wine varieties and determine for themselves their own personal preferences. Many times people believe that a "white wine" is just any white colored wine and "red wine" is any wine with a red coloring. This type of tasting will give your guests a new appreciation for which types of white wines and red wines they prefer and is a very educational tasting.
The big eight wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Shiraz as red wines and Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling in the white wine category.
"Blind Wine Tasting"
Take any of the above ideas, remove the labels from the bottles or put them in wine bags or paper bags and voila...you have a Blind Wine Tasting party. A blind tasting party is great because your guests will not have any pre-conceived thoughts about the wines they are tasting and it's interesting to see how different people may feel about the taste of a certain wine when they're not looking at the label or the cost of the wine.
Have fun with your parties and be sure to keep your guests scores so that next time you invite them over you'll be ready to purchase just the right one for that particular person.