I've been to some of the best wineries in the world to taste various wines and have been a guest at some truly fabulous wine dinners over the years. But, until now I've never actually hosted a proper wine tasting in my home. I've had friends over to sample different wines and my peeps are always about experimentation, but it's totally casual and completely disorganized. At the end of the night, no one remembers what they liked most.
It took friends visiting from Italy to make an official wine-lovers event happen in our house. I rented glasses, got a bit of food together and they took care of the rest. I did this on a weeknight right after work with very little effort. Thankfully, they were experts on the process (I paid close attention so that I can perhaps do it again). As the operators of Molesini Market and winery in Tuscany they brought a great deal of knowledge to my table and group of friends that I invited to join.
Little details such as seasoning the glasses prior to the tasting and setting the tables with appropriate nibbles and note taking accessories made the whole experience more 'official'. It was better than anything I've witnessed onsite at an actual winery and definitely more fun. Stories were told on the region, the four varietals served and orders were placed for shipments for these delicious Italian wines to be shipped to Tennessee.
Find a expert host who is as entertaining and fun as he/she is well-versed on the wines being served.
Rent plenty of wine glasses and order a few extra. I totally trust Music City Tents and Events for affordable, quality tasting glasses. Affordable and convenient. And no washing required post event.
Invite people who will be seriously interested. I knew only true enthusiasts would enjoy/appreciate a really detailed wine presentation. I found that the group was completely different from our typical gathering... and that the diverse crowd (about 25) attending enjoyed talking with one another as much as they appreciated the wines.
Don't worry about having table seating for everyone. Use your coffee table with stools or sofa and kitchen island for standing set ups in addition to a main table. The key is to keep everyone in one room/in view of each other and the presenter.
On snacks, keep it light. Fruit, cheese, bread cubes, Italian cured meats and crackers are ideal. There's no room for fussy snacks or large plates so provide food that will work to compliment the tasting experience.
Ditto on decor-- no centerpieces needed. Just get some clever accessories (I chose rustic looking wine cork embellished cocktail napkins) and keep it minimal.
What is the favorite specialty party you've hosted or attended? Do share ideas for mixing up a typical party here and keep following the Southern Sophisticate!