While you might think of wine tastings as events that take place at four-star restaurants, you can easily prepare your own wine-tasting party with the help of your nearest liquor store in Fort Collins. Mulberry MAX has an on-staff Certified Sommelier to help you with everything you need.
The first step in planning a wine tasting party is determining the kind of event you want to host. The simplest and easiest option is a stand-alone tasting, which allows participants to focus exclusively on what they are drinking and not fill up on or get too distracted by food. You can also combine a tasting with a dinner, cocktail party, or other gathering. Another option is to serve a light dinner, then follow with a wine tasting. Or, invite everyone over for a tasting of dessert wines followed by cookies, cake, or a dessert of your choosing. Regardless of the style of party, the following guidelines will help you plan a stress-free tasting both you and your guests can enjoy.
When to Host a Wine-Tasting Party
As long as you match your wines to the weather—lighter wines in the summer, heavier varieties in winter—you can host a wine tasting any time of year. In terms of specific days, think about your guests and their drinking habits. Depending on the crowd, you may get more RSVPs for a tasting on a Friday or Saturday, when people can relax and not have to worry about going to work the next day. Keep in mind that if you're not serving food at your tasting, it's wise to pick a time when guests are unlikely to be hungry—just after lunch or dinner is ideal.
Providing a new glass for each wine removes the possibility that flavors from one wine might taint the flavors of the next, but it's not very practical. Using one glass throughout the tasting is fine—just be sure that tasters dump out any extra wine (and do a quick swirl-rinse with water) before moving to the next sample; keep a bucket nearby for dumping. And although different wines beg for different glasses, one basic wineglass works for most tastings. Use a glass that is perfectly clear (so you can see the wine), has a stem (so you don't warm the wine with your fingers), and has a bowl that's deep enough that you can swirl a little. Before the tasting, be sure to thoroughly wash and rinse all wineglasses, making sure there's no soap residue that could affect the tasting. Regardless of which wineglass approach you decide to use, your nearest liquor store in Fort Collins can give you assistance on where to find the proper wine glasses you need for your event.
Water pitcher and glasses
Cool water is essential for cleansing the palate between wines. Be sure each taster has a glass filled with ice water before the tasting starts, and set out a large pitcher for refills.
There are myriad options for corkscrews, but the best one is the one that works for you. Have a backup handy in case your regular one breaks—or you have a lot of wine to open and need an assistant. A foil cutter can also come in handy.
Bucket or large bowl
Arrange one or more buckets or large bowls in the tasting area where guests can pour extra wine. Also offer each guest their own small cup if they prefer not to swallow each wine.
Tasting grids, plus pens and pencils
A tasting grid is a chart that allows tasters to record their impressions of each sample. It's also a bit of a "cheat sheet." Tasting can be intimidating, but breaking the evaluation down into discrete elements and offering some descriptive terms can help get people started.
A "tasting menu" details the wines to be sampled. In addition to the name of each wine, its geographical origin, and vintage, include background information on the wine and where it can be purchased at your nearest liquor store in Fort Collins.
Picking a Theme
One of the most fun aspects of planning a wine tasting is deciding what kind of wine to sample. You might start by deciding if you want red, white, sparkling, or dessert wine. You can sample different wines from one region (Rioja, New Zealand, the Napa Valley, etc.), or taste the same varietal produced in different parts of the world (Cabernet Sauvignon grows in many regions). Regardless of your theme, your nearest liquor store in Fort Collins can help assist you in selecting the perfect bottles of wine for your chosen theme.
Also, think about your guests and how much they know about wine. If you're hosting a group of novice wine drinkers, a more basic tasting such as an introduction to one of the major red wine grapes works best. If your group is more experienced, try experimenting with lesser-known varietals or different vintages of the same wine. Also think about the season: Heavy reds are unlikely to draw crowds on a steamy August evening, but they would be perfect in February.
A Little Research Goes a Long Way
Several days before the tasting, spend time researching your wine and preparing notes so you can introduce the bottles to your guests. If you like, prepare some trivia or fun facts. This will make for a more interesting and educational tasting, as providing some context often helps tasters connect to and remember a wine.
Once you get the bottles home, store them on their side, away from direct light, and at cellar temperature (55°F). If your home is on the warm side, lower your thermostat or place the wine in the basement or on the floor of a dark closet where it's slightly cooler. Also try to keep the temperature consistent and store bottles away from vibration if possible.
Palate cleansers, along with plenty of cool water, keep your taste buds neutral and awake. Your nearest liquor store in Fort Collins will most likely recommend bland crackers or bread (a plain baguette, nothing grainy), which "act like sponges, absorbing any lingering flavors." Avoid anything flavored or overly salty—the point is to refresh the palate for each new wine.
Chill the Wine
In general, white wines are served at 45 to 50°F (10°C) and reds at 55 to 60°F (15°C). Be sure to chill whites (in the refrigerator or in ice) two to three hours in advance. Red wine can be served at room temperature, but if your house is particularly warm, you may want to put the bottle(s) in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes or just until they are cool to the touch. Red wines should not be served cold, so be sure to take them out of the fridge about one hour prior to pouring.
Check out Part 2 for how to structure your wine tasting!
Editor: Mr. Max
We work, live, breathe and of course drink the beverage world. This is where we nerd out.