Archive for the ‘wine tasting’ Category

Wine Tasting Party — Types of Tastings, How Much Wine to Buy, Home Set Up and Scoring the Wine

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Here is a guest post by author: Sandee Lembke.

Many of us have been to wine tastings at a winery or a local liquor store but have you ever hosted a wine tasting party at home?

Wine tasting party
It really is quite easy. First you need to decide what kind of wine party you are going to host.

Types of Wine Tasting Parties

Vertical — A tasting with an assortment of the same wine, from the same producer and vineyard, across several vintages (the year the grapes were harvested). An example is to taste Chardonnays from 2001, 2003 and 2006 all from the same vineyard.

Horizontal — Tasting various wines from the same vintage and ideally, wines from the same region and general style. The purpose of tasting one vintage is mainly to compare the different producers and vineyards. For example, Napa Valley red wines from 2001.

Blind — This is where you hide the identities of the wine by either wrapping them or putting them in paper bags. The bottles are numbered and scored without the tasters having the benefit of label, price, producer or anything else.

Guest Choice — This is the easiest wine tasting party to coordinate. Simply tell your guests to bring whatever kind of wine they choose. If you want to narrow them down a bit, be specific in your invitations, like “Bring a bottle of your favorite red wine, $20 limit” or “Bring your favorite bottle of Chardonnay, $15 limit.”

Obviously, you can combine some of these. How about hosting a Blind-Horizontal wine tasting party?

Setting Up Your Home

If you have the room set up 3 wine tasting stations; one for red wine, one for white and a third for the dessert wines. At each wine tasting station, have on hand:

A corkscrew
Measured pourers (serves exactly 1 oz. each time) Bottled water for rinsing mouths and glasses between tastes
A container for rinse water
Crackers for cleansing the palette between tastes
For the white and dessert wine stations, an ice bucket to keep the wine chilled

If you have separate wine tasting stations, you can increase the number of guests that you invite because everyone can spread out and start at different stations as opposed to everyone crowding around a single station. Either way, limit the number of guests to no more than 15 people. You want to easily be able to discuss the wines and having more people makes conversation difficult.

How Much Wine to Buy

If you are providing the wine yourself, keep in mind that a regular sized bottle of wine holds 750 milliliters or 25.4 ounces.

Using the Flip Top Measured Pourers, ensures that every guest receives an exact 1 ounce measure every time you pour. For $16.95, you get 3 of these nifty little gadgets and because they have a flip top, you can also store your wine with these

If you have 12 guests and use the pourers, you will only use half of each bottle (about 12 ounces) during the tasting process, leaving the rest to enjoy after tasting is over. Make sure you buy additional bottles of various wine to serve before and after the tasting.

Scoring the Wine

How wine savvy your guests are will determine if you score the wines during the tasting and if so, how you go about scoring them. Keeping things casual is usually your best bet because after all, it is a party. Typically, people do not want to be bothered with a complicated scoring process.

A good way to keep it easy is to give your guests a simple scorecard which lists the names of the wines. Ask them to force rank the wines in each category. For example, in the white category there are 5 wines to taste. Each person will score those 5 wines; 1 being their favorite and 5 being their least favorite.

At the end of the wine tasting, collect the scorecards and determine which wines are the party favorites in the wine category (reds, whites, desserts).

Lastly, to keep things simple, offer your guests meat, cheese, fruit and nut platters that complement your wine choices. This is a very important step in hosting a wine tasting party. You do not want your food choices to conflict with the wines you have chosen.

Hosting a wine tasting party at home is fun especially if you take the time to pick out some quality wines and pair those wines with good food. Your guests will appreciate the special care given when planning this type of party.

Article Source: Wine Tasting Party

About the Author:

Sandee Lembke from Theme Party invites you to visit her site for a Free Wine Tasting Scorecard that you can download and a Free Wine-Cheese Pairings Table to help you select complementary food.

Understanding the Connection Between Wine and Food

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

This film is part of a series of eight by Neil Smith, owner of the WineSmith wine shop in Ashburn, Virginia. I have selected some material by other wine writers while I am too busy to write my own articles.


Neil Smith: Hi, my name is Neil Smith with WineSmith and today, I am showing you how to pair wine with food. Right now, I am going to talk about the connection between wine and food and that connection is very important because it’s only in the fairly recent history that we have started to enjoy wine or think about wine as something to be enjoyed by ourself, but the origin of wine is actually, to have a beverage that helps enhance your meal, the flavors of the meal and brings in a little more sophistication to the meal. Most wines, I have talked about dryness and sweetness earlier in the video, most wines are on the drier side and are not necessarily meant to be enjoyed by themselves.

If you think about European cuisine, it’s very common to hear about Europeans having a glass of wine with every meal and there is a reason for that and to illustrate that point I would like to invite you to do a taste test with me. We are going to do is take a sip of the Cabernet Sauvignon that we talked about at the intro clip, then we are going to take a small bite of the cheese and then take another sip of the Cabernet Sauvignon. We are going to discover how the wine actually changes flavors in profile when it’s paired with the food. So start with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and notice how the full bodied wine it has those tannins that I talked about in the last clip. It has that mouth drying feeling and now we are going to take a bite of the cheese and then I have a sip of the wine and even a small bite of cheese has already helped to soften the tannins on the finish of the wine. So the wine is much smoother and softer now than it was by itself and likewise, the wine actually brings out the flavors of the cheese a little bit more so the two really do complement one another.

So, you will see in future clips as we talk about the other rules of how wine and food can really complement the taste of one another and the feel of one another in the mouth. So that’s a little bit on the connection between wine and food and now we are going to get into the first rule which is matching the weight of the wine with the weight of the food.

Basic Wine Vocabulary

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

This film is part of a series by Neil Smith, owner of the WineSmith wine shop in Ashburn, Virginia.


Neil Smith: Hi, my name is Neil Smith with WineSmith and today, I am showing you how to pair wine with food. Right now, I am going to spend a few minutes talking about wine vocabulary just to explain a few terms that I will be using throughout the course of video. We are going to start with the term sweet and dry and it’s helpful to talk about dry wine first.

When wine is made, it starts with sugar. There is sugar that’s naturally present in the grapes and the fermentation process converts that sugar into alcohol. When all of the sugar is fermented into alcohol, there is no residual sugar left behind and you are left with a dry wine. If some of the residual sugar is – if some of the sugar is left in the wine it’s called residual sugar and if it’s significantly present, then the wine is considered as sweet wine and you do have a level in between called semi-dry but we will talk about that in a few minutes.

So, some wines can be dry, but still have enough fruitiness to them that they have an impression of sweetness. So it’s helpful to think about a jar of jelly for example. Some wines have are considered jammy or jelly-like in the sense that they have very concentrated fruitiness and although, the wine is technically, dry it has some of its fruitiness that it seems somewhat sweet. So it’s an important distinction to make. Generally speaking, your sweet wines are only reserved for things like dessert in the parties. The next term I want to talk about briefly is acidity. Acidity is a very important component in wine because it helps a wine to stay clean and crisp. If you think about something like a lemon wedge that has a lot of acidity and you squirt a little lemon over your fish or chicken helps to bring out the flavors. Acidity also helps to make your mouth feel clean. So that if you take a bite of food and then follow that with a sip of the clean white wine that’s high in acidity, it helps your mouth feel clean and ready for another bite.

The final term I am going to discuss is tannins. Tannins are also naturally present in wine just like they are in tea. If you think about leaving a teabag in the water too long you get a very tannic effect and the tea has astringency or it has the mouth drying feeling. Wines that are high in tannins can have the same effect and tannins can come from two places. One is naturally present in the wine and the other is when a wine is aged in oak for a significant period of time it can have additional tannins that it leaches from the oak. So those are the most important terms we will be using throughout the video today. So now let’s get into the connection between wine and food and the five rules for pairing wine and food.

How to Pair Wine with Food

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

This film is the first in a series of eight by Neil Smith, owner of the WineSmith wine shop in Ashburn, Virginia. At the end of the video, you will have the opportunity to click to watch the next one.


Neil Smith: Hi, my name is Neil Smith. I am the owner of a wine shop in Ashburn, Virginia called WineSmith. Today, I am going to give you a few points for how to pair wine confidently with food. We are going to cover some basic wine vocabulary to get us started and then I am going to give five simple rules for you to remember that as you plan your meals to pair wine with food. We are matching the weight of the wine with the food, complementing or contrasting wine flavors with the flavors and texture of the food, paying attention to sweetness and acidity in the wines, Dessert Wines and Sparkling Wines and then finally, practicing and experimenting often. But before we begin, it will be helpful to have a few items on hand to get the most out of this video. First is the Sparkling Wine, a dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc and then a full bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. For food items, something salty like popcorn or salted peanuts, some crackers, two types of cheeses – one soft and creamy like goat’s cheese and something else that’s a little bit harder and firmer like cow’s cheese, some barbeque sauce, plain grilled chicken strips, some cake donuts and some lemon wedges.

So before we begin, let me tell you a little bit about myself. Prior to opening this store one year ago, I spent over a year studying and tasting wines. Since we have opened, I have conducted several classes on wine basics and how to pair wine with food. So with that said, let’s get started on pairing wine with food and I hope you will take away lots of information from the video.