Looking for a fun way to spend an evening with family or friends?
Whether you are renting a beach house with a group of people or need an excuse to throw a party, home wine tastings are fun, easy and economical. You can easily turn your summer barbeque into an exquisite wine tasting event without much difficulty or expense. For parties of about six or more, this is a great way to explore uncharted corners of the wine world by the pool, on the patio or on the porch.
Pick a Theme
To make it a proper wine tasting event, decide on a theme. You can build your tasting around a particular wine region or a type of wine from different parts of the world or even an assortment of wine from the same winery.
So, try a “Chardonnays of the World” theme and compare the delicate French Chablis with a robust American-oaked Napa Chardonnay to a gentle Old/New World fusion of Australia’s Yarra Valley. Or, you may want to spice things up with an assortment of Chilean wines, with some Malbecs, Carmeneres, and Sauvignon Blancs.
Even on a shoestring budget, you can afford to go global for your own wine tasting. If you’re on a tight budget or you like to do events like this frequently, ask each of your guests to bring a bottle of wine within the theme of the tasting.
If it can be avoided, try not to serve wine out of Solo cups or plastic cocktail tumblers for friends and family.
If you’re worried about bringing the crystal stemware out by the pool, your local dollar store has a decent selection of both plastic and glassware that should make for a great wine experience without sacrificing quality.
Everybody likes to be included, so it’s worth investing in at least one cheat sheet that has useful descriptive terms and hints about each wine you taste. That way, newbies and seasoned wine tasters alike can focus on the wine and nobody feels self-conscious about not knowing the lingo. Many liquor stores and wineries sell pocket-sized tasting guides for under $5, but you can just as easily print one off the Internet.
You may also want to invest in an opaque pitcher to serve as a spittoon. This allows designated drivers a chance to politely spit out the wine after they’ve sampled it, so they too can participate in the fun!
Making It a True Tasting Experience
Make the wine tasting its own event for your friends.
Don’t try to shoehorn it between appetizers and dinner and don’t stress about finding the perfect food to pair with it. That’s not what a tasting is about.
Start with the heaviest, most dry wine and serve about a quarter glass to your guests. This is just enough to appreciate each wine, while keeping in mind that several wines will be served throughout the course of the tasting. It’s also a good idea to have some bread in between each taste to freshen everybody’s palette.
If you choose to serve dinner, do so after the tasting and allow each friend chooses their favorite wine of the evening to accompany their meal.
By Georgene Mortimer, Island Winery
Stop by Island Winery at 12A Cardinal Road for a great selection of award-winning wines, ranging from Old World vinted dry wines to Low Country Specialty wines. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will be glad to offer suggestions for your wine tasting event. Store/Tasting hours are Mon.-Sat., 12:30-5:30 p.m. 843-842-3141 or www.islandwinery.com.