8 Tips for Hosting a Blind Wine Tasting in Your Home
Theme Suggestions, The Big Reveal
Whether you are a wine novice or a serious wine collector, tasting competition events are fun and instructive. Why not host a wine tasting party in your home? Wine professionals always advise new wine enthusiasts to increase your own “Sensory Rolodex©” by sampling as many new wines as possible. Wine professionals also suggest active note-taking to prevent recall problems. “Can you imagine remembering everything about a wine after tasting 100 of them like wine judges everywhere must do?” This is question I’m asked after judging. Answer: No, take notes. See .pdf Tasting Sheet templates below.
Wine Wanderings is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Top 8 Tips for Hosting a Successful Blind Wine Tasting Event
Tip #1 - Select a Tasting Event Theme
Will you do a blind tasting and set up a competition for the guests to match a concealed bottle to a given winemakers’ notes? That is my suggestion. Will you do a vertical tasting of different vintages of the same wine? Or, simply, will you provide a tasting flight of multiple varietals, vintages, and winemakers to satisfy many types of wine drinkers? Know your guests and decide the most intriguing format. Some suggested topics:
* ABC’s of Anything But Chardonnay – alternative white wines you will love
* The Wines of Napa Valley
* Italian Wine – Which Wine Pairs Best with Pizza? Use wines from Tuscany, Lazio, Sicily, Naples
* Cabernet Sauvignon –The Best Cabs of California, Washington, and Chile
* Taste the Wines of Texas….. (or Oregon, Washington, Virginia, New York, Michigan)
Tip #2 – Blind Tasting Bottle Disguises - Guest “Guess” Sheets – An Answer Key
Have wrappers or bags available to hide the wine label for a blind tasting format. Make sure the bottles are hidden before the event begins. Number the bottles. If you are chilling the wine, make sure the bags are water and ice-proof. Provide two handouts for guests: a Tasting Note Log in one column and the wine guess in another, and a list of all the possible wines with prices. Make them match their guess with the bottle number. Consider having a Master Wine Aroma Kit wine essence bottles available so that guests can compare aromas of the wines to the samples in this kit. They will be amazed at how many aromas they can identify. Don’t forget to make yourself an Answer Key!
Tip # 3 - Provide Wine Friendly Finger Foods
Offer wine-friendly foods such as cheeses, meats, bruschetta, and pizza. Consider asking guests to provide the appetizers.
Tip #4 - Use Measured Stoppers
Utilized measured bottle stoppers so guests can sample an ounce of wine. There are about 24-25 tastings per bottle. Measured stoppers can be found at wine supply stores or online. Otherwise instruct guests to pour small quantities or you will find that your Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or Grand Cru Burgundy goes first!
Tip # 5 - Set a Tasting Time Limit
I suggest two hours for the wine tasting. Guests’ palates will get tired after that point. Have wine disposal buckets available for the “spitters” or “dumpers” who want to simply sample, but not drink the wines.
Tip #6 – Have a “Big Reveal” at Party’s End
Have an end-of-event “Reveal” of the correct wine names. Dramatically cut off the bag and ribbon to reveal each hidden wine. Ask the crowd if they correctly identified it.
Tip #7 - A Prize for the Best Taster
Be festive and give a prize for the most accurate taster. A bottle of your favorite wine might be the most appropriate prize.
Tip # 8 - Linger Over the Wines and Add Dessert
Conclude the event with desserts and dessert wine. Remember that the dessert wine should always be sweeter than the dessert – to keep a wine from tasting flat or sour. I suggest a dessert wines like a Vin Santo or a Brachetto d’Acqui especially with Italian desserts like cannoli and tiramisu. Finally, let guests linger over all the opened wines.
Celebrate the Season with a Blind Wine Tasting
Annual tasting parties can be matched to an occasion, holiday or a season. Tastings are memorable, popular events. Consider a wine tasting party following fall wine harvest season, pre-Thanksgiving, or as a salute to vintage release dates in the spring.
Be sure to remind your guests that wine sensory detection is a practice sport, so practice often. Cheers!
Tasting Theme Wine Suggestions: Italian Wines – Which Wine Pairs Best with Pizza?
Italian White wines
Robert Parker, 90 Points
James Suckling, 93 Points.
Wine Enthusiast, 93 Points
Planeta Rose, Sicily, Italy $19
Vinous / Antonio Galloni 90 Points
Italian Red Wines
Paolo Scavino Barolo 2017, Piedmont, Italy $56
Robert Parker, 93 Points
Wine Spectator, 91 Points
Wine Spectator, 93 Points
Antinori Villa Toscana, Tuscany, Italy $18
Decanter, 92 Points
Suggested dessert wines to serve:
Marenco Brachetto d’Acqui Pineto, Piedmont, Italy $20
A Brief Alternative Italian Tasting
Tasting Log and Wine Log Templates
Wine Wanderings Editorial Calendar
2022: Wines of Chile, Maipo and Colchagua, Great Cabs
Lower Alcohol Cocktails with Texas State Mixologist, Shawn Meglen: Interview and Demonstration
America’s Exceptional Wine Country Adventures: States to Consider
Traveling to Italy 2022: An interview with Liz Heath, Italian Travel Writer
Live from Bordeaux: Left and Right Bank
Live from Provence, France, the Home of Rosé: A Tour of Chateau D’Esclans
Visiting La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux: The Premier Museum of Wine
Super Tuscans of Italy: A Tour of Antinori’s Guado al Tasso in Bolgheri, Tuscany
Live from Barcelona: Gaudi Influences and the Sagrada Familia Cathedral
Live from Penedes: A Tour and Interview with Spain’s Largest Wine Family, Torres
1881 Museum Napa Valley: A Transformation of the Oakville Grocery
I have exciting news to share: You can now read Wine Wanderings in the new Substack app for iPhone.
With the app, you’ll have a dedicated Inbox for my Substack and any others you subscribe to. New posts will never get lost in your email filters, or stuck in spam. Longer posts will never cut-off by your email app. Comments and rich media will all work seamlessly. Overall, it’s a big upgrade to the reading experience.
The Substack app is currently available for iOS. If you don’t have an Apple device, you can join the Android waitlist here.