How To Host Your Own Blind Wine Tasting Party?

Wine is a beautifully diverse beverage. It entices the senses and each has its own color, consistency, bouquet and flavor. Many times, we get stuck on certain varietals and think, “Yep this is my wine! I ONLY drink California Cabernet Sauvignon.” Or, “I ONLY drink Gewürztraminer.” It’s so easy to get tunnel-vision in the wine department. Now you can host your own blind wine tasting party with our hosting tips below.

Let’s get started!

Blind Wine Tasting Party:

According to The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil, there are approximately 24,000 names for varieties of wine grapes. Within that, experts believe these represent about 5,000 truly different varieties. Wittling it down slightly more, of those 5,000 distinct varieties about 150 are planted commercially in substantial amounts. When you factor in blends, forget about it! You could be tasting new types of wine for the rest of your life. So how can you reasonably and affordably taste new wines and figure out what (else) you enjoy? I recommend hosting a blind wine tasting party.

When I lived in California and was in the industry, I was privy to wine trainings and wine tastings amongst other industry events. I was also a part of an amazing wine tasting group. We were all studying for varying levels of our sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers.

One event in particular stuck with me vividly and will act as my basis for my tips. A few years back, I attended a blind tasting event with sommeliers from the Monterey Bay area. I hope you enjoy these tips on hosting a blind wine tasting party. You don’t need to be a sommelier to host a party of this sort. And to be honest, these tips are geared more towards individuals who want to expand their palates, not necessarily wine aficionados.

Size: You do the math!

A bottle of wine (375mL), approximately 25.4 oz., is enough for 12, 2-oz. tastes, or 6, 4-oz. tastes, etc. etc. Generally, you want to don’t want to over-pour (until maybe after all the wine has been tasted) to let all of your guests get a nice taste of the wine and be able to comfortably taste all of the varietals present.

Blind tasting

Small Taste of Wine | Photo Credit: James Mincey (Monterey, CA)

Preparation

Ask each guest to bring a bottle of wine of their choice—it can be their go-to wine or a random varietal that they’ve always wanted to try. The possibilities are literally endless. Depending on the number of guests, each guest may need to bring two bottles of the same wine. If you’d like, set a price cap per bottle. As people enter your home or desired venue, partition off an area where they can put their wine in either a decanter, carafe, wine bag, paper bag, or wrap it in aluminum foil. I highly recommend the former choices (it’s harder to cheat that way), but in a bind? Paper bag it or foil it! Give each guest a tag with a letter or distinguishing mark of some sort (you can get really creative here).

Blind wine Tasting party

Wine Wrapped in Paper Bags | Photo Credit: James Mincey (Monterey, CA)

Presentation

Have wine glasses available for each guest. Also, have a pitcher of water handy for rinsing glasses and consequently a dump bucket to pour the wine water in. If you really want people to TASTE the wine, provide an extra glass at each setting to act as a “spit glass”. Generally, when tasting wine, you’re supposed to spit it out. To each his/her own!

Don’t forget to create some sort of score card for your guests to rate each wine. After all wine has been tasted and everyone has noted what they like, each guest can divulge what wine they provided for the party.

Tasting: Order is important.

In a perfect world, you would taste white to red, dry to sweet, light-bodied to full-bodied (reds), new world prior to old world etc. There is an expansive list of rules for blind tasting, but let’s simplify that! For a palate expansion blind tasting, at the very least you’d want to taste whites before reds. If you’re the host and not providing all of the wines, you won’t have any idea of what everything is, but you can at least ask your guests to put whites at one end of the table and reds at the other.

Palate Cleansers/Canapé: Imperative!

It will be important to provide some sort of palate cleanser between wine tastes. Something simple like pita chips or sliced baguette is a good choice because they are neutral in flavor. However, if you are really just trying to find a new wine to embrace, you could plan to have various canapé to taste between wines and transform your tasting into a food and wine soirée.

Blind tasting party

Canapé from Blind Tasting Event in Monterey, CA | Photo Credit: James Mincey (Monterey, CA)

At the end of the evening, you should all have discovered some new wines to embrace in the future (or maybe not!). But at the end of the day, everyone was able to taste a variety of new wines and socialize over great wine and bites.

blind tasting

Bottles Revealed: Blind Tasting Event in Monterey, CA | Photo Credit: James Mincey (Monterey, CA)

Our ChefXchange private chefs would love to create food for your upcoming wine tasting party or they can even suggest the best wines to match your dinner party menus. Grab a few friends, save this link and hit the wine store! You can easily create a fun, wine-filled event that is bound to introduce your palate to something new! Be on the look out for more wine posts. What’s a better marriage than food and wine?

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