Tips to Host Your Own Blind Wine Tasting Party
I recently hosted some friends and family for blind tasting of several sparkling wines. A blind tasting is one in which the participants (and sometimes even the host) don't know which wine they are drinking. This can be both fun and educational. Some surprising outcomes:
Time as a Factor: Often if you are drinking one bottle at a time you will finish it more quickly. But with several bottles opened for a “blind” you have a different dynamic. Participants have an opportunity to try each wine a bit over the course of 1-2 hours as it “opens up.”
Value: You may choose wines of a similar varietal (all chardonnay for example) from several different price points. Without big names or labels to get in the way of perception, sipping blind can be a great way for participants to discover new wines and values they might not have been open to before.
Guessing Varietals: If you have a group of experienced wine drinkers at your event you can use this as a fun competition! Introduce a few single-varietal wines (Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Tannat) and invite guests to discuss the flavors in each wine as they attempt to guess correctly.
Regardless of the goal of your event, here are a few tips for pulling it off successfully:
FIRST Select your wines and theme. I recommend 3-5. Consider 1- a common theme (sparkling, reds, french, sweet, etc) 2- what you want your guests to learn (see above) 3- don't make it too hard, people like to have a chance at being right, so go with some "classic" wines and single varietals 4- plan and write up a series of questions, based on the wines. For example "What flavors is everyone picking up?" "Do you think old v new world?" consider if you want them to be shouting out answers or writing down guesses. Also will YOU be blind tasting or will you be guiding them?ay to keep those well chilled even as people try another splash and another...
SECOND Cover the bottles (tin foil, brown paper bag...) to obscure the labels. Also consider how you might keep them at a good temperature during the event. If you're sipping sparkling wine, you need a way to keep those well chilled even as people try another splash and another...
THIRD Number the bags of wine to identify each bottle uniquely w/o revealing what's inside.
FOURTH Prep wine glasses and location. Depending on how many glasses and people you have you can either 1- Get 1 glass per person per wine (ideally) or 2- Get one glass per person. If you use one glass per person per wine, number each persons glasses to correspond to the numbers on the bags. If you have 3 people and 3 wines, you'll need 9 glasses. You can number with tape and a pen or a wine glass marker. Don't forget to 3- Give everyone some paper and a pen to take notes one each wine. 4- It's also a good idea to consider some water and snacks.
FIFTH Pour & Enjoy! You've done all the hard work preparing, now pour the wines and execute on your strategy. Have everyone taste and take notes one wine at a time. If you have multiple glasses, they can do side-by-side tastings.
SIXTH The reveal! After all that talk and guessing, what's really in each bag? Feel free to have people shout out guesses at this point. Consider some talking points and take aways you want your guests to walk away with. Did anything surprise everyone?