I LOVE throwing blind wine tasting parties - it allows people to taste a slew of wines, give their opinion, and share in the excitement of which was which and who brought which wine!
1. Decide on a date
2. Decide on a varietal, an AVA/country, a price point, a year. There are so many combinations of this...
- You could do Spanish wines under $15.
- You could do Zinfandels from Russian River under $30.
- You could do California Syrahs under $20. The options are endless.
If you throw these regularly, you will also become familiar with the appellations, the varietals, and what to look for in each depending on what you like.
3. Choose your guest list.
4. Create an Evite or Facebook event.
SPICE IT UP: To add some fun and raise the stakes, you can have everyone bring a bottle and $5. The second place bottle gets their $5 back and the winner gets whatever is leftover. How enticing...
5. Shopping List:
- Your wine to throw in the mix
- Paper cups for spitting
- Water crackers
- Water (lots of water)
- Sodas & other non-alcoholic drinks for those kind enough to be Designated Drivers (DDs)
- Beer for those select few who don't drink wine but want to watch the show
- Apps (you can also ask your guests to bring a little something for before the tasting)
- Desserts - everyone deserves something chocolatey to much on while listening to the results!
6. Any store will give you paper wine bags - just ask. BevMo & Trader Joe's have been the best about this in my experience. You can buy one of those Wine Tasting Kits that comes with fancy velvet bags but there's no need. The bags will just get ruined with all the wine dribbles and no one really cares that much.
7. Sharpies. Key in writing large numbers on each paper bag
8. Index cards (5x7 is perfect) & pens. Your guests will need something to write on as they taste through the wines
9. Wine glasses. The trick here is to go to Goodwill or IKEA and get cheap ones. It doesn't matter if they match, but most people prefer an actual wine glass to a red keg cup. I promise.
10. You can also add a fun touch by letting people write their name on their glass with a dry erase pen or provide charms or name tags for glasses. This will help in the long run!
11. Designate a table as guests walk in to deposit their bottle of wine. Designate other wine stations around your house to keep the guests moving throughout the house for good flow and fewer backups at stations. Keep crackers and water near stations as palate cleansers and snacks.
12. The day of...As guests arrive:
- As guests arrive, ask them to put their bottle on the table
- Hand them a glass, an index card or two, a pen and direct them to the apps table to grab a bite
- Let your guests mingle, eat, and enjoy the party (don't forget the music!)
13. The day of...As guests mingle:
- This is the time when you get to start bagging bottles.
- Open all of the bottles. Remove as much of the capsule as you can to prevent people from knowing which wine it is.
- Put all of the bottles into bags, twisting the top of the bag around the neck of the bottle as tightly as possible.
- Ask a friend to come in and number the bags. Leave the room. Because s/he doesn't know which bottle is which and you don't know how they numbered the bottles, everyone can participate.
14. Wrangle the troops. Explain the rules of the tasting:
- Each bottle has a number.
- When you taste the wine from that bottle, write down the number of the bottle and any tasting notes you may have.
- Give the wine a score from 1 - 100.
- Start tasting! Be sure to let everyone know that a 2 ounce pour should be plenty. That way there is some for everyone. Be sure everyone has a cup to spit the wines if they feel so inclined.
15. When everyone is finished, move all the bottles into one central location.
16. Designate someone to tally the scores in Excel (preferred) or on paper.
17. When all of the wines have a score, wrangle the troops again. Start by announcing the lowest scoring wine by number, then reveal the bottle from that numbered bag. People can fess up to their wine as it's called if they'd like! Or they can hide in the corner, hanging their head in shame. Keep doing this through all of the bottles...inching your way to the winning bottle.
18. Award the second place winner with their $5.
19. Drum roll please....Announce the winner and hand over the loot!
This is such a great party to throw for so many reasons. People who may not know each other well get to meet new people in an easy way (wine is the ultimate ice breaker!). A little healthy competition is good for everyone. You learn new wines, why you like them or why you don't, and find sleepers to try!