All Wined Up

Planning the Perfect Wine Tasting

DCWW-Perfect-Wine-Tasting Guest post by Alison Marriott

Hosting a wine tasting is a great way to gather friends or family for a fun night in. Here are my simple and easy-to-follow tips to get you started.


Keep It Focused

  • Choose a theme. Some of my favorite wine tasting themes focus on a specific region, different types of bubbly, or even a single varietal.
  • Feature 5–8 wines. Anything more can overwhelm the palate.
  • Calculate the amount of wine you need to buy. You can expect about 8 tasting-sized (3 ounce) pours from a standard bottle, so one bottle would serve one type of wine to about 8 people. Consider magnum bottles if they are available—they often offer more bang for your buck.
  • Mind your budget. You don’t need to spend a ton of money to host a great wine tasting. An elegant party can feature bottles for under $20, and when buying 6 or more bottles of vino, most retailers offer discounts.
Keep It Simple

  • Provide a few interesting facts on each wine. If you’d rather spend less time lecturing and more time socializing, print this info out. It’s also a convenient way for guests to note their favorites for future reference.
  • Don’t worry about having the perfect glass for each wine. A standard tasting glass is just fine. However, if you lack enough stemware for your party guests, head to Ikea or Bed Bath & Beyond for glasses less than $2/stem.
  • Choose pairings to bring out the subtle flavors in the wines. No cooking is necessary! Nothing beats a great charcuterie platter featuring cheese and cured meats rounded out with olives, nuts and fruit.
  • Provide your guests with water to stay hydrated. Set out pitchers with fruit slices thrown in for a colorful way to up the fancy factor without much fuss.
Keep It Fun

  • Don’t stress. No one has fun at a party with a stressed out host. Chill and open wine bottles beforehand, and decant anything that needs to breathe. By doing a bit of prep work ahead of time, you’ll be relaxed enough to greet your guests with a glass of wine in hand.
  • Create a sophisticated atmosphere. Light some votive candles, and put on your favorite music for an instant festive feel.
  • Enjoy yourself! Don’t get so caught up in the tasting that you and your guests aren’t having fun. In the end, it’s all about spending quality time with great company.

For more wine tasting party inspiration, check out DC Wine Week's Cheese and Wine Decor Pinterest board.

Alison runs Bon Vivant DC, a custom wine tasting and education events company. Check out Bon Vivant DC for event information and her wine blog. Alison also loves running private wine tastings for people in their homes. You can find her on Twitter via @districtwino.