Throw a wine tasting party with these tips and tricks — includes pairings, labels, and other how-tos.
Growing up in Northern California, we’re surrounded by wine on all sides. Needless to say, wine is my drink of choice! And I think there’s nothing better than wine with friends, so today I’m going to share how to throw a super fun wine tasting in your own home. We’ve been throwing these parties for years, and they are some of my favorite evenings.
First, Choose The Wine
For this wine tasting, I chose six wines from around the world from my local Roseville, CA World Market store. All the wines were purchased for less than $20 a bottle.
World Market has such a wonderful selection, so it was hard to pick just six! I wanted to find six different varietals from six different countries and here is what I chose:
- Chateau De Marcard Bordeaux, France
- Layer Cake Shiraz, South Australia
- Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile
- Punto Final Malbec, Argentina
- Vina Zago Tempranillo, Spain
- Coli Chianti, Italy
These wines are available at select World Market stores. I thought this was a solid selection of red wines, from nice and smooth to kicking it up a notch with a couple spicy, bold choices!
Second, Pair the Wines
I like to highlight the wines by pairing them with foods that bring out their flavors. There are a ton of websites out there to help you choose what best pairs with each varietal of wine.
I paired the wines with these delicious little bites from World Market:
- Bordeaux, paired with Laughing Cow mozzarella cheese on water crackers
- Shiraz, paired with smoked summer sausage
- Cabernet Sauvignon, paired with smoked gouda
- Malbec, paired with smoked salmon
- Tempranillo, paired with chorizo
- Chianti, paired with Spanish green olives
We also had a small selection of crackers, dips, and fruit along with the pairings for cleansing the palette between each tasting, and because, let’s be real, people drinking wine tend to be snacky.
Third, Print Out Your Tasting Sheets
The fun thing about this wine tasting is that it’s more than just trying wine and deciding if you like it. Instead, each wine is brown bagged, paired with a snack, and guests fill out a sheet to determine which wine they like best.
Using a simple rating system, everyone tries the wine and rates it based on color/appearance, bouquet/aroma, taste/flavor, and whether or not they’d buy it. You also give the wine “one word” to describe it.
Each wine is totaled, and all the scores are added up and we determine what the crowd’s favorite wine is!
You can print out your own tasting sheets here. Make sure to print one for each guest!
As an extra bonus, for this party I had my friends guess which varietal was which. We’re not wine experts, and it proved a lot harder than you might think!
Fourth, Set Up the Party
You’re going to need more than wine and food! World Market has pretty much everything you could ever need to throw a wine tasting.
- Red wine glasses
- Stemless glasses
- Cutest little bird wine charms
- Rabbit Self-Pulling Corkscrew
- Other wine accessories
The day of the party, my good friend Noelle and I cut up and set out all of the food. We uncorked the bottles about an hour before the party, allowing time for the wines to breathe a little.
We also brown bagged the wine and labeled them 1 through 6 and paired them with their snacks. You can print the labels here!
Fifth, Throw the Party!!
Soon, my friends began to arrive! Before everyone started tasting, I laid out the plan for the evening. Everyone would try each wine, paired with its snack, and then rate the wines on their chart.
Then everyone got to work!
I always enjoy hearing what everyone has to say about the wine. I have friends who have very sophisticated palettes, and then there’s my best friend who basically wrote “smooth” on every single wine!
Trying wine is serious business!
Once everyone had tasted every wine (we had enough that people went back for seconds to make sure they had rated their wines perfectly), we had my accountant friend add up all of the scores and come up with the crowd totals for each wine. We lined up the wines in order that the crowd liked them, and did the big reveal!
I was actually surprised that none of the wines rated significantly lower than the others. Often there’s a wine or two that no one cares for—but in this case, the World Market wines came through and all of them had fans in the room!
Our top three wines were:
- WINNER: Punto Final Malbec
- Second place: Vina Zago Tempranillo, Available in store
- Third place: Coli Chianti, Available in store
My personal favorite was the Tempranillo, but I tend to like bright, bold wines that sort of smack you around a little bit. The Malbec was definitely the crowd favorite—smooth, fruity, but still really full-bodied. Pretty much everyone in the room loved it! I’m headed back to World Market this weekend to get a few more bottles of my two faves!
Oh, and that smoked salmon? I could have eaten the entire platter.
I had mentioned above that it was harder than expected to guess the varietals of each wine! My friend Nick had the most correct—two!—and won our prize for the evening! Another cute set of World Market wine charms and a geek chic glasses wine stopper.
As the evening wound down, I remembered why I love these tastings so much. Getting together with friends is always great, but adding wine and the challenge of picking the best bottles really makes for a fun night! And I love that it was all possible with one trip to World Market!
Keep the party going: