Saturday, February 11, 2017

Mystery Red Wine Party

For anyone who wants to do a mystery wine tasting on a skinny table, this was a great setup!

Mystery wine parties are so much fun! To set one up, here are some things to consider:
  • Type of wine - Choosing one type is usually best so that you're not swinging wildly from bubbly to red back to white and then to rosé. Better yet, designate a specific varietal (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Malbec, etc.) - you'll learn a lot more trying to figure out the subtle (or not so subtle) differences between wines made from the same grape!
  • Price range - It's best to designate a price range for wines. Believe it or not, setting parameters helps guests feel a little more secure when they are choosing wines! The $15 price range seems to be a sweet spot - guests usually show up with wines between $12 and $20.
  • Pouring amount -Most guests not used to tasting wines regularly pour way too much for an actual tasting - usually a full glass (around 4 oz). 1 oz pouring spouts can help, but still that only yields approximately 25 pours per bottle. Help your guests by providing 1 oz pouring spouts or by pouring the wines yourself. The worst situation is when a guest serves herself/himself a full glass of wine only to discover that they hate it and have to pour it out. Encouraging guests to pour just an ounce for tasting is ideal - they can come back for more if they like the wine.
  • Butcher paper - Be sure you have your table or countertop completely covered in butcher paper so that you can protect it from damage and so that your guests will feel free to drink and comment as they please.
  • Markers - I've observed that permanent markers (e.g. Sharpies) in different colors are very popular, but you can provide any type of writing utensil you prefer.
  • Instructions - The fewer instructions the better. I've observed that it's best to model the type of behavior you would prefer at the wine tasting.
  • Bites - Food is so important to enhance the taste of wine and to also cushion the effects of alcohol. Having neutralizers between tastes is also helpful, but most guests won't differentiate between the two. Also, your guests most likely won't be professional tasters, so just provide enough delicious food to match with the wine and absorb the alcohol and don't worry too much about foods to neutralize the wines between tastes. Great foods for wine tastings are crackers, cheese, charcuterie, fruit, (strawberries, grapes), tapas, chips, olives, artichoke hearts, pickles, fresh veggies (carrots, celery, zucchini/squash, roasted eggplant, dolmas, spanakopita, meatballs, finger sandwiches, and desserts.
  • Glasses - Say no to plastic and any material that is not glass. Glass is essential for proper wine tasting. Dig out every glass or glass product you have. I don't care if it's a glass jar you're planning to recycle eventually - as long as it's not any other material. Wine tastes best in a neutral vessel, and the only truly neutral material for wine tasting is glass. Plastic overpowers wine, and metal (even stainless) reacts with it. Only taste wine from glass.
What are your tips for a successful wine tasting? Share them - I'd love to hear!

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