There is nothing like the feeling of being freshly engaged, bundling up, and celebrating the holiday season. It is truly a magical feeling that you don't really understand until you are immersed in it all. There are a million ways to celebrate the holidays but I believe one of the best ways to celebrate your engagement this winter is through a Wine Tasting Party.
I will give all details below but I haven't met one person who doesn't have the best time at this party. I have hosted an event like this and have also been a guest. And honestly, both roles are so fun. And as we are all responsible adults: please plan ahead and have a sober driver.
The rules are simple (It looks likes lots of steps, but it is quite easy):
1. Pick a wine genre: for example California Red, or Cabernet Sauvignon or French wines. It can be as simple as red wine or white wine. ( I do recommend sticking with one color though)
2. Invite friends with the directions to buy TWO bottles of the SAME wine in the genre you give above. When they arrive, they need to give both bottles to the host, without showing the rest of the guests what they brought. This is an important step. As wine arrives, store them in a back room and make note of who brought what wine.
3. The host or hostess: Once all guests have arrived and all bottles collected it is time to work your magic. This is a perfect time for appetizers and hour-devours and good music to be playing.
4. In a back room (any room away from guests), the host or hostess has some organizing to do. First take one of each of the guests bottles and put aside. You don't need to worry about the second bottles until the end of the party.
5. The first bottles you need to assign a number and cover it completely. This is as simple as using brown paper bags with a number labeled on it OR go more elegant and have a fancier cover for your bottle. The goal is to make it so guests can't see the different wines.
6. Once all wines are covered and numbered, place them throughout your space to let people move around and mingle with friends and taste the wines.
7. Gather your guests and give them score sheets. I found this template online. You can make your own or use something similar to this. This site actually has two different score sheets. One is less formal and the other one is a bit more. You can decide on the level of formality.
Essentially, you can tell your guests to rate on appearance, aroma, taste, body and finish. Or, on a scale of 1-5 how much did you like the wine.
8. Explain your score card and tell your guests how many wines are available for tasting. They need to indicate the wine number and the overall score for each of the wines and mark them on the score sheet. Depending on the amount of wine and number of guests--it's probably wise to advise guests to do small pours. This allows all guests to try the wine.
9. Let the fun begin. Allow enough time for people to get through the wines. Most people don't do heavy pours when doing wine tasting because pretty soon...all the wine starts tasting the same!
10. Keep the party going and then collect all of the scorecards.
11. Tally it all up and rank all of your wines from least favorite to favorite. (This takes a bit of work, use a calculator and a friend for assistance)
12. Remember those second bottles of wine you stashed away...time to award the winner. The person with the highest ranked wine gets...all of the second bottles of wine!!!!!!! So the winner brought over two bottles of wine and goes home with at least a case, if not more of wine!
This is honestly one of the best parties I have ever hosted! And you can make the awarding ceremony as lavish and drawn out as you would like or very simple. To save time, you can easily just award the winner their bottles of wine. BUT, in years past I have gathered all guests to one place and lined up all the bottles in a line (these are not covered-everyone can see the labels). From my list of the overall ranking of the wine, I start at the bottom. I actually start from the second to last...I like to leave the least favorite and the most favorite wine until they are the last two wines standing. I quickly go through the list from the bottom up (leaving the least favorite and the most favorite for last). I try to have a gag gift for last place and your first place wine gets to take ALL OF THE WINE HOME!!!
This has great audience engagement (partially because you just had them drink a bunch of wine) but also it creates some hilarious competition among your friends.
As I write this, I am already planning my next wine tasting event for this winter. I will update the blog with pictures of the event.
If you have questions...let me know and please share your stories with me on how your party went. Your engagement party will be one that everyone remembers.