Tired of winter? I feel you. Try hosting a wine tasting party.
When the blistering cold has got you down, there’s nothing like a wine get-together to lift your spirits. Hosting friends is always fun for me, and it’s often enough to yank me from my winter slump, at least for an afternoon or evening. Last year, I organized a New York wine tasting party with bottles from New York State. This year, Italian wines were the theme. Antipasto cleared our palates and was enough for a light afternoon meal. Here’s what we tasted.
Zonin Prosecco Cuvée 1821 ($12)
We started off our Italian wine-tasting, sipping, and drinking fest with a bottle of Zonin Prosecco Cuvée 1821. This sparkling white is fresh and elegant, and the ideal aperitif or celebratory wine. Our group polished off the bottle in no time. To be honest, I think you could drink this wine at any time of the day or night.
Rosso Dolce Castello Del Poggio Sweet Red ($13)
From there we went to the lightest bottle: Sweet Red. None of us are fans of sweet wines, so this one was our least favorite of the bunch. However, with its notes of apricot and peach, I think it would taste great in Sangria. We thought this bottle would be an excellent warm weather wine too––ideal for summer sips on an August day, and it would pair well with spicy dishes.
2016 Le Focaie DOC ($15)
Next up was the unbelievably bright wine from Maremma, Tuscany. We loved the soft finish on this bottle. The 100% Sangiovese is fruit-forward and lovely ruby color glistens in the glass. Le Focaie DOC may have been our favorite of the three dry reds. It’s smooth enough to pair with just about anything, so you could serve it every day. But this wine is especially good with grilled red meat, charcuterie, and aged cheese.
2013 Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG ($19)
Who doesn’t appreciate a good Chianti? One of the most popular Italian reds, Chianti is incredibly drinkable. This juicy, medium-bodied wine features berry aromas, mild tannins, and a touch of earthiness. Pair it with chicken or pork. Or, since it’s an easy-drinking wine, quaff a glass on a Sunday afternoon before dinner.
2015 Fattoria Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano ($19)
I adore this blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Alicante, and 5% Malvasia Nera. It’s juicy, fruit-forward, and smooth. You’ll taste cherry, plum, and a touch of spice. This wine paired well with the cured meat I served, but you could easily drink it with beef, lamb, veal, and poultry as well. It’s a terrific food wine for sure.
Have you hosted a wine tasting party at home before? It’s super easy and can be as casual as you like. Wine and food will always be the greatest way to bring people together, whether they’re BFFs or total strangers. And no need to worry if you don’t know much about wine. The more you taste, the more you learn.
Organize a wine tasting at home for friends, and I can promise––you’ll have a terrific time. 🙂
Here are my tips for hosting a wine tasting party:
Keep it small.
Invite a few friends or colleagues and not a large group. It’s much easier to keep track of everyone’s thoughts and each wine with handful of guests.
Choose a theme.
German wines. French whites. Pinot Noirs. You decide, but it’s best to go with a theme and stick to it. You’ll learn about the region and the grape and be more knowledgeable by the end of the tasting.
Pay attention to your glassware.
It’s probably a good idea to use one glass for reds and one glass for whites. But don’t stress if you have only one set of glasses. You can rinse between the whites and reds if you’re mixing. (I adore these RCR glasses. I have owned a set of 4 for years and they’ve been washed in the dishwasher hundreds of times. They are incredibly durable.)
Pour lightest to darkest.
Start with the lightest wine and work up to the full-bodied bottle.
While you don’t need to cook up an elaborate meal, your guests will appreciate snacks and something to cleanse the palate between tastes. Cheese, crackers, charcuterie, hummus, and appetizer-style foods work well. If possible, do some pairing research. Try and choose food that will complement the wines.
Have paper and pens.
You may want to take notes on the wines and discuss, so paper and pens are an excellent idea.
Set the scene.
Fresh flowers and candles go a long way at any gathering, and they’ll set the scene for any wine tasting party at home. Keep the music low, allowing conversation sans shouting.
Keep the water flowing.
Offer plenty of H20 available between sips.
Thanks to Colangelo & Partners for sponsoring a portion of this wine tasting.
Also, Kosher wine has come a long way. Please Piedmont wines to try.
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