An idiots guide to hosting a wine tasting – Part 1
Hosting a wine tasting is a brilliant occasion, which gives you and your guests an opportunity to explore a new world of wine together, While going wine tasting yourself can be a real treat, hosting an event is something else entirely – and something we’d really recommend to any lover of wine.
Not only do wine tasting events give you a great opportunity to explore and try new wines, but also to do so not only from the comfort of your own home (or venue) but also alongside the company of friends who enjoy exploring the world of wine as much as you do.
Now, this is an important consideration when it comes to the main difference between attending a wine tasting event and hosting one. When attending an event, your prime and only concern is enjoying your wine. In contrast, while hosting an event you owe an equal duty of enjoyment to your guests as to yourself.
Talking to your guests
With this in mind, the first thing to consider is your guests. Everyone is different and while you may prefer red wine, white wine, sparkling or rose, the most important consideration is what your guests prefer. Therefore, your first job before hosting an event is not to buy your wine, but to determine what kind of wine you’d like to buy – by talking to your guests, and seeing where their preferences lie.
Similarly, once you’ve identified what kind of wine is preferred by your guests (we’ve hosted great events with just red, just white, mixtures, sparkling only, etc), your next job is to identify how much your guests are happy to pay.
Great. Now you’ve got a rough price boundary and a general scope of the type of wines you should be buying. Next up is to decide the format and you’re well on your way to hosting a wine tasting event.
Figuring out a good format
There are a multitude of formats you could use for your winetasting event, but the main thing you need to decide is whether or not your event will be a blind hosting, or one where the wines are revealed to your guests. In a blind tasting, every wine is served hidden – either by covering with a towel or decanted into a carafe, etc. In contrast, a non-blind hosting will involve showing each wine to your guests prior to consumption.
While blind tasting can be fun, it’s also important to consider that hosting a blind wine event, unlike attending one, comes with it’s own limitations. For example, unlike while attending an event, you will be unable to blind taste yourself (without some really complicated organizational logistics!)
Once you’ve determined the kind of format you’re going to run with for your wine tasting, next up is the really fun bit – buying the wine.
Buying your wine
Before you get started running out and buying every Riesling, Malbec, and Merlot on the block – you need a plan first. From your discussions with your guests you should already have a good idea of the kind of wines you’ll need to be buying.
It’s incredibly important to determine up front the price expectations of your guests. If you’ll be providing all the wine out of your own pocket (then you’re a better or richer friend than I am…) this will be less of a problem. But since in almost all circumstances you’ll be asking your guests to chip in for their share of the wine it is paramount importance to make sure that you’re spending what they expect you to.
It’s also important to note that just because you’re running on a tight budget absolutely does not mean that you can’t run a great wine tasting event! One event theme which we’ve seen being enormously successful from our experiences is actually a “budget night” of wines in the £5-10 region only. Everyone loves finding a great bargain that they love to taste so it’s a brilliant event format that people always love.
For actually buying your wine, another key consideration is how big your event is. If you’re looking at a small event (say, 4-6 people) then it’s absolutely possible you can achieve this with a simple run to the shops. On the other hand, if you’re hosting a group of 30 you’ll likely want to enlist either help, a delivery service, or cut it all out together and just place your order online (like Majestic Wine in the UK or Wine.com in the US)
If you’re chosing to buy online then there are a couple of super important tips that we’ll share with you in Part 2. Organizing the wine is (understandably) one of the most stressful aspects of a wine tasting event so it’s something you’ll want to make sure you get absolutely right.
If possible, we’d recommend asking your guests to pay up front for the event so you know exactly how much you’ll be able to spend and don’t wind up left holding the bag!
Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon for more info on how to host the best wine tasting event ever!