Over the years, I’ve both hosted and attended blind wine-tasting parties, and they end up being among the most fun gatherings! If you haven’t done one of these, and you like wine or champagne as much as I do, I highly recommend putting one of these together!
Now, I get it; we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and social gatherings feel like a thing of the past. You’re in charge. Use discretion as you see fit while planning a social gathering. An alternate, all-virtual wine tasting idea is detailed out at the bottom of this post!
If you aren’t familiar with the term, a “blind wine tasting” is essentially sampling from various wine bottles that you don’t know anything about.
One of These Wines is Not Like the Other!
Every bottle of wine is different. That’s what makes your wine party so much fun! Here are a few facts to consider:
- Soil – There are only six different soil types, but the mix of soil type, drainage, elevation, and nutrients make up the perfect mix for growing grapes.
- Grape type – There are more than 10,000 grape varieties! The most common are the cabernet and chardonnay grapes, but with so many grapes to choose from, it’s time to start exploring!
- Terroir – This is a French word used to describe the environment (think region and climate) in which grapes are grown. Grapes thrive in some places more than others, and they’re grown all over the world. You might be interested in knowing that while Napa is known for its fantastic growing capabilities, Texas’s High Plains region (think Lubbock, Brownfield, Amarillo) also produces many grapes. The area has excellent soil and climate (terroir) to grow some great grapes and produce quite tasty wines!
- Fermentation – Crushed grapes yield juice, then yeast gets added to turn the sugar from the liquid into alcohol. Voila! You have wine.
- Storage – This includes how and how long the grape juice “rests” after being fermented. They could be stored in new American oak barrels, old French oak barrels, steel vats, plastic tubs, and many more options, all of which change the wine’s flavor. I once drank a red wine taken from the same harvest but fermented from four different fermenting barrels, and they all tasted way different.
All of these differences account for why, when you host a wine tasting party, every wine will be a surprise to your (and your guests’) palate!
How to Host a Blind Wine-Tasting Party
For your party, you could just have a free-for-all in which everyone just brings whatever they want, or you can switch it up based on grape varietal or style. For example, have everyone bring a bottle of their favorite Cabernet or have everyone bring their favorite sparkling wine, and you provide desserts! (However, I love sparkling with meals. You have permission to drink sparkling wine whenever you want!). Use these tips to plan your party:
- Create wine scorecards (see below examples). These numbers will coincide with the numbers on the bottle once your guests arrive.
- Decorate a gorgeous table to place all your wines (this one’s optional, but why not go all out?). Include lots of munchies! With this amount of wine tasting, you’re going to need them.
- Put out at least one large spittoon. You want your guests to spit some of their wine out. Drinking every tasting would end it a lousy night for lots of people.
- Print labels with numbers based on the number of bottles you’ll have at the party.
- Tell guests to bring a bottle of wine that they want to share.
- Upon arrival, put each bottle in a covering (paper sack, bag, or foil) to disguise it (separate red and white wines).
- Attach numbers to each bottle before placing it on your table.
- Give each guest a glass and a scorecard.
- Each guest should our only a taste (one ounce!). Then, they’ll take notes on each taste. Guests should start with white then work to red while making observations on their scorecards.
- Laugh and have fun!
At the end of the night, you’ll have a clear winner based on the scorecard ratings. I suggest buying a small gift for the winner to make it fun. Whatever you decide, or however you run your party, have fun and enjoy!
(Bonus) Wine Scorecards:
Simple Wine Scorecard (Etsy) – This is one I would choose. Super simple, and it’s all you need to make your party fun.
Wine Scorecard (free) – This one is a little more involved, but it’s free.
A more involved Wine Scorecard – For serious wine connoisseurs, but even still, this may take the fun out of the party.
Virtual Wine Tasting Events
One of our contributors, Alexis, is attending a virtual wine tasting through ONEHOPE Wine next month, and it sounds super easy, fun, AND for a good cause. Ahead of your event, you choose and order your wine selection. On the date of the virtual wine tasting, a virtual link is sent for you to join the private tasting.
You get to sample the wines and learn about them just as you would with an in-person event. There’s even acoustic performances and poetry readings during the virtual wine tasting. The best part: 10% of your purchase go toward the non-profit organization of your choice! If you’d like to try one, ONEHOPE does live public wine tastings via Facebook monthly.