Are you planning an in home wine tasting party? You’ve come to the right place. I do claim to be the hostess with the mostess when it comes to throwing parties. Follow this guide to pick the right wine tasting theme for you, the best glassware ideas, and the perfect food pairings for your next in home wine tasting party. Having a wine tasting in the comfort of your own home is a great way to spend time with your friends and learn a bit about wine.
You will learn:
- The basics of an in home wine tasting
- 7 wine tasting themes
- Supplies you’ll need for an in home tasting
- Wine tasting decoration inspiration
- Food and wine pairing ideas
The Basics of an In Home Wine Tasting
Hosting a wine tasting in your home is a fun way to get your friends together, drink new wines, and learn about more about wine in general. For an in home wine tasting, I suggest you keep your guest list limited to no more than 10 people. This way everyone can pay attention easier, learn more, and it won’t overwhelm the host.
As the host of the in home wine tasting, you need to decide on how many wines will be served, the tone of the event (fun or informative; hopefully both!), and whether or not you will be providing everything or each guest will be assigned a wine or food to bring.
Hostess with the Mostess Tip: Have custom-made invitations made for your in home wine tasting.
How many wines to serve at an in home wine tasting?
I suggest serving between 5-7 wines at your wine tasting event. This can be 5 of all the same varieties, or 1 sparkling, 2 white, 1 rose, 2 red, and 1 dessert wine. This will of course be dependent on your theme, more on that later. Do a bit of research about each grape, region, and winery before the event to provide your guests with valuable information.
What do you do at a wine tasting?
Ideally, an in home wine tasting will be a way for your guests to discover new wines. You will want to add some structure to the event to create an educational atmosphere otherwise your guests will leave without having gained anything new. The host should guide the tasting and everyone should taste the wines together to share their thoughts.
Guiding a Wine Tasting at Home
Make a list of the wines your guests are tasting so they can reference them. Provide them with a pen and a tasting sheet. Pour each guest about an ounce to an ounce and half of wine (30-45ml). Start with sparkling, then white, rose, red, and dessert wine last. Have your guests look at the color of the wine and swirl their glass. Have them smell the wine. Ask each guest to describe what they’re smelling. Then taste the wine. Again, ask each guest to talk about the flavors they’re tasting. Undoubtedly, next your guests will talk about whether or not they liked it. Do this with each wine. After you’ve tasted through all the wines, encourage your guests to revisit the wines they liked. Get my FREE tasting sheet below.
Grab this wine aromas wheel to help your guests pick out the smells in their wine.
Hire a Wine Tasting Host
Is this feeling a bit overwhelming? Hire a wine tasting host. This host can guide the tasting, teach your guests more about the winemaker, grapes, regions, and may even be able to coordinate the whole in home wine tasting from buying wines to providing glassware. It will be a significant expense but may be worth it to you and your friends. Ask at your local wine shop if any of their staff do in home wine tasting parties or a local sommelier may also be able to provide this service for you. I would suggest AGAINST any of those gimmicky in home wine tasting businesses that want to sell you clean-crafted wines or in general are just making a sales pitch.
7 Wine Tasting Theme Ideas
Creating a theme for your in-home wine tasting is a great way to focus and narrow down what wines to serve. If each guest is bringing a wine, it’ll also help them make an easier decision. A theme can be general or specific, fun or academic, diverse or mono-varietal. Choose from any of these wine tasting themes or create your own.
Wines from Islands
It’s been a while since we’ve been able to travel so travel through wine! Choose wines from islands for your in home wine tasting party. You can choose wines from the Greek islands like Assyrtiko from Santorini, wines from Sicily like Nero d’Avola, or even wines from New Zealand like Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc. Pick wines from one country’s islands or different islands from around the world.
Wine and Food Pairing Party
You’ll want to serve some food at your in home wine tasting for sure. (More on this later). Why not make them match? Buy 5 different Spanish wines and serve them alongside Spanish tapas. Did you know that Mexico makes great wines? Have a Mexican wine tasting for your next Taco Tuesday. This doesn’t have to be limited to ethnic food, it could be pairing wine with comfort foods, cheeses, or even junk food! Learn more about wine and food pairing in these 12 steps.
Wines from Women Winemakers
Next time you have your friends over, host an in home wine tasting featuring wines from female wine makers. I love this list by Alpana Singh who, by the way, was one of the reason I got in to wine in the first place. Unfortunately, wine is still a male-dominated arena even though women are behind some of the best labels. If you think it’s not still an issue, even searching for stock photos under “winemaker”, there wasn’t a single photo of a woman winemaker or a person of color.
Wines from Black Winemakers
There’s been an encouraging push to showcase the talents of Black wine professionals recently. It’s not enough, but it’s a start. Here is a list of Black winemakers from around the world. You’ll find wines from California, Italy, France, Canada, Chile, and South Africa. You can combine this theme with any of the others.
Wines from Lesser Known Wine Regions
If your friends are veteran wine lovers, dig into lesser known wine regions for grapes they’ve never heard of. Try a few wines from Croatia like white grapes Posip and Debit, and red grapes like Plavic Mali and Babic. What about wines from Uruguay? They have lesser known grapes like Tannat and Albariño but also the usual suspects Chard, Cab, and Merlot.
Wines from Places You’ve Traveled
The last wine region I traveled to before quarantine was Lebanon. To relive that wonderful experience, I invited a small group of friends over to taste through the wines we brought back. If you loved your trip to Tuscany last year, host an in home wine tasting with your favorite wines from there. If you had to reschedule a trip this past year, find wines from that area and travel through wine.
Same Grape, Different Region
It’s always very interesting to see how one grape variety expresses itself in different regions and climates. Choose a grape like Cabernet or Sauvignon Blanc and assign a different country to each guest. For Cab you can choose one from Bordeaux, Chile, Australia, and California. For Sauv Blanc you can taste and see the differences between Sancerre, New Zealand, Sonoma, and Spanish styles.
Supplies You’ll Need for Your In Home Wine Tasting
Glassware Options for an In Home Wine Tasting Party
Glassware is essential yet a bit tricky for an in home wine tasting. This all depends on how you set it up. If you plan on tasting each wine together, you can use 1 glass per person. Note: you do not need to wash or rinse your glass between wines if you are going from white to rose to red. If you’re planning on serving the wines in a flight, then you’ll need a lot more glasses. A flight is when all the wines are poured in a row of glasses in front of each guest. A universally shaped glass is just fine, no need to provide a different glass shape for whites and reds. You have a few different options for glassware at an in home wine tasting.
- Rent glassware from a local caterer.
- Pro: You don’t have to wash them after your in home wine tasting.
- Con: It can add up. Average prices is about $1 a glass times 5 glasses per person times 10 people. That’s $50 that could be spent on wine.
- Ask each guest to bring their own glassware.
- Pro: Free and everyone will recognize their own glassware.
- Con: Someone has to wash them.
- Buying glasses.
- Pro: One time cost. It may be worth having the whole group go in on the glasses and have them rotate to everyone’s homes for each wine tasting.
- Con: This will be very costly.
These wine glasses have a universal shape and come to about $6 a stem.
Ice Buckets and Spit Buckets
Wine should be served at the proper temperature. Here’s a quick guide. Make sure to have your sparkling, white, and rose well chilled before your guests arrive. Keep them on ice up until about 10 minutes before they are ready to serve.
I know what you’re thinking, we don’t need a spit bucket! Yes you do. You’ll be tasting a lot of wine and it’s better to have a spit bucket than having your guests getting up and dumping in the sink. Having a spit bucket will encourage responsible behavior.
These wine tasting flight boards are an easy way to keep everyone’s wine in order.
Decorations for an In Home Wine Tasting
Do you decorate for your parties? I do! I love buying subtle decor to show my guests that I’ve thought of everything! I’ve used corks as place card holders, put flowers in empty wine bottles, and use those fun wine lights for simply and inexpensive decor. There’s also so many fun wine tasting decorations on Amazon.
How cute are these?! Your guests will flip when they see these wine tasting utensil pouches!
Cute wine-themed napkins can brighten up a table or you know, encourage your guests to drink.
You’ll need these for your wine selfies. Looking for great wine captions for your social media, check out this list of 99 funny and punny wine quotes.
Wine markers are the best way to identify everyone’s wine glass. I say this from experience, after a few glasses of wine, your guests won’t remember if their wine charm was the lady bug or the bubblebee, or the Eiffel tower or the Colloseum, let alone if their wine charm was blue or yellow.
Food Ideas for a Wine Tasting Party
You will definitely want to serve food at your in home wine tasting. You could everyone to bring a dish, have it catered, or prepare it all yourself. I’m a control-freak and usually do it all on my own. Here are some wine tasting food ideas.
Fondue: I got this fondue pot for a wedding gift and I take it out as often as possible to justify the space it takes up in my cabinet. Pick a cheese that melts easily like fontina, gruyere, or gouda. Serve with bread, broccoli, sliced peppers, carrots, or even French fries!
Charcuterie: A meat and cheese platter is filling, visually beautiful, and a great pairing with wine. Build your own using these 6 easy steps.
Wine Friendly Appetizers: Bruschetta, Mediterranean spreads with pita bread, meatballs, stuffed mushrooms, mozzarella sticks, spinach pie, sushi rolls.
Courses: Where are my ambitious hosts? You could create a tasting menu and pair each wine with a separate course. You’ll need my Ultimate Wine & Food Pairing Guide to nail each pairing. Get it below.
Interested in a Virtual Tasting with me?
Reach out. I’ve done several in the past and we can make it work. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.