Impress your friends by hosting an unforgettable wine tasting. You'll be surprised at how easy it is.
A fun way for you and your friends to get to know more about wine and explore the styles you like is to host a wine-tasting party. If you enjoy it, you can make it a regular event, choosing a different theme each time.
1. Choose a theme
Your themes can be based on season, style, geography, or something more quirky, but try to make it as focused as possible. Christmas, for example, is a great time to taste wines that you're likely to buy for the season — Port or Champagne, perhaps. Or you could try several wines from several different producers in a particular region that interests you, or a specific grape variety made in different regions around the world.
2. Invite your guests
To spread the cost, work, and fun, invite a group of friends (four to eight people or couples is a good number) and get them each to bring a bottle that fits in with the theme — making sure in advance that none of you bring the same bottle! It's also worth asking your guests to bring their own glasses, unless you already have a big collection and a good dishwasher.
3. Blind tasting
Serving the wines "blind" — that is, with the bottles wrapped in paper and with all traces of the brand (foil capsules, corks, and screwcaps) hidden away — adds to the fun and focuses your mind on what you really like about the wine, not just its reputation or price. Once you've wrapped the bottles, label them clearly (A, B, C or 1, 2, 3 and so on).
4. Explain the rules
Before you start tasting, explain to everyone what they're drinking —"We have six classic European reds," for example. Provide pens and paper and get everyone to write down what they think of the wines, note their favourites, or even take a guess where it came from or how much it costs. Taste, drink, discuss, but do not reveal the wines until the end of the tasting, when all the guests are finished and ready.
5. The results
Ask your guests to hand you their notes and then reveal the bottles one by one, discussing each wine as you go. This is the time to see how the reality of the tasting matched up with each guest's expectations -- did the famous brands and most expensive wines do the best? (You may be surprised at how often they don't.) Give your guests a chance to note down which wine is which, and then relax and enjoy your favourites. Reveal each wine's identity after your guests have finished their tasting notes
Don't forget about the nibbles
Tasting wine is hungry work, and not much fun on an empty stomach.You'll need to provide some nibbles, but make sure the food is not too spicy or strong-tasting or it will overpower the wines.
Excerpted from Get Started Wine Appreciation, copyright 2012 by David Williams. Used by permission of DK Publishing. All Rights Reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.