A Beginner’s Strategy to Hosting A Wine Tasting Party

Wine production has been on the rise as of late, with states such as New York, Ohio and Idaho cutting into the share of an industry still dominated by California.

As production grows so does the desire to try as many new types of wine as possible. Going to a vineyard is certainly an option to complete this task, but hosting a wine tasting party is a terrific opportunity to experience the wide range of reds and whites available on today’s market.

Where to start, though? That’s a good question, considering many of us might not have the necessary racks upon racks of wines stored in our residences to provide for a party. The following is quick beginner’s strategy to hosting a wine tasting party that you and your friends will enjoy.

Choosing the Wine

There are options aplenty when it comes to choosing what bottle(s) to have for your party. Narrow it down by settling on a country or region to sample from on this occasion. This will help narrow down your choices and could also tie-in for a nice theme to your party. Also, it may prevent that one friend from bringing a bottle of Thunderbird to your party. (Admit it, we all have a friend that would do that.)

Speaking of which, when settling on wine choices, decide if your party is going to be one in which you supply all of the wine or guests will help out by bringing a bottle. If hosting a smaller party with only a few guests, it might be feasible to supply all of the wine choices yourself.

If the guest list grows, though, it might be time to think of other options. Having each guest (or couple) bring their own bottle of wine to sample (relating to the country/region, of course) might be better in the long run on your pocketbook.

Depending on the size of your party, it’s also a good idea to limit the choices to six different wines or less. A good rule of thumb is to have two bottles of each type of wine per eight guests. This, of course, depends on if you’re doing a true wine tasting (four to eight ounces per pour) or simply getting together with friends and having a full glass of wine.

Setting a Price Range

No matter if you’re supplying the wine or guests are bringing their own bottle, it’s best to set a limit on spending. A price range of $10-15 might be best. Obviously, this depends on your own budget and the budget of the guests you’re inviting, but I’ve found this is a nice, average price range, especially if you’re buying all the wine yourself.

Keeping a budget in mind will go a long way in keeping the mood jovial at your event. There’s no need to be thinking “There goes another ten dollars down the drain” every time someone spits out a mouthful of wine all because you wanted to spend over one hundred dollars on your drink of choice.

The Equipment

What do you mean you don’t have wine glasses? Doesn’t everyone own them in this day and age? No? Okay, you’re right. Do you absolutely need them? That answer, again, is no.

Since you’re just beginning, there is no need to be reach the ultimate levels of being fancy in your first go around. Any drinking glasses you might have, especially those with wider mouths, will do just fine in hosting your party.

You can even find all-purpose wine glasses at reasonable prices if you want that full wine-tasting experience. And if you want,, encourage your guests to bring their own wine glass, if they feel so inclined. Some may even prefer this way, depending on what sort of circles you run with and who’s been invited to the gathering.

And don’t forget a bucket. Remember the spitting of wine I mentioned earlier? The guests will need somewhere to spit out the wine they might not like. (Though that’s quite a waste of alcohol, good or bad). Rather than the entire party sitting standing around the sink, make it easier and find a bucket of some sort to collect this waste of wine.


Every good party needs something to snack on, even a wine tasting party. A variety of cheeses is a safe bet as are water crackers. Both of these items provide adequate sustenance while not interfering with your palate during the wine tasting experience.

Almonds and strawberries are also both excellent choices if you’re looking to add more of a variety to the snacks available to guests.

Make it fun

This is the most important aspect of any party. No need to make it any different when it comes to tasting wine. The guests are there to judge the wine, not each other.

A wine tasting party may appear to be more of a formal setting, but there is no need to create an uptight mood. Play music, chat, and encourage your guests to have a good time. Enjoying the atmosphere should be more than enough to ensure that your first wine tasting party is a success.

Jason Haskins

Jason is an author and playwright living in Boise, ID. He is a contributor to many websites and hopes to one day put his expansive knowledge of Saved by the Bell to good use.

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