Add a little decadence to your next gathering by hosting a wine tasting soiree. You don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to indulge in a fine Bordeaux, savory cheeses and decadent confections. A simple appreciation for palatable experiences meets all the requirements. Round up a group of your closest comrades for an evening of new flavors and cherished memories.
The Set Up
Wine culture presents the perfect mix of relaxed sophistication. Your informal tasting party should combine elements of carefree elegance without a trace of panache. For the perfect epicurian vibe, think rustic vineyard meets vintage chic. Create a relaxed self-serve atmosphere by setting up three stations for the following must-haves:
- Tasting supplies: On one table, set out all the necessary tableware including wine glasses, a pitcher of water and glasses for cleansing the palate, and a receptacle where guests can pour out any extra wine between tastings. We also recommend setting out wine markers or labels to help guests keep track of their wine glasses.
- Savory bites: Arrange a separate table for savory fromages with the chosen grape varietals, labeled and pre-arranged by pairing.
- Sweet treats: Lastly, lay out a spread of fine chocolates and select wine pairings. All items should also be labeled and organized by recommended pairing.
If only wine selections were as simple as red, white and sparkling. Choosing from the extensive collections of grape varietals can overwhelm even well-versed sommeliers. To help narrow down the options, select a theme by region like France or California. Or, simplify the process by selecting one of our carefully imported combinations like the Tour de Franceor California Dreaming collections that include three bottles from the region of choice. By choosing themes, you can also have a little fun with decor. Spruce up the party by turning your backyard into a French bistro or add a casual West Coast flare with rustic Napa-style decor.
Pick your Pairings
Wine tasting is all about creating a delightful sensory experience through the combination of palate-compatible pairings. Chocolates and cheeses create a heavenly match by highlighting the similarities between wine tasting notes and ingredients in the food. Ultimately, perfect pairings are at the sole discretion of your taste buds, however, here are some basic rules to get you started: Savory selections: As a rule of thumb, white wines are known to better complement sharp and salty variations of cheeses but, as always, let your taste buds be your guide and use these recommendations to get started.
- Chardonnay’s natural hints of vanilla pair well with Bloomy cheeses like Brie and Camembert.
- Red wine lovers will savor pairings of Cabernets and Merlots with hard cheeses like Gouda and Cheddar, respectively.
- Pungent blue cheeses like Gorgonzola are even more flavorful alongside a sweet Port blend.
- Pair fresh options like mozzarella and ricotta with airy whites like a refreshing Pinot Grigio.
Sweet companions: Chocolate pairings fair well with lower sugar reds that maximize sweet flavors of cacao and mocha. For an extra decadent experience, try our selection of fine Godiva chocolates. Enhance flavors in Cacao Dark Chocolate with a Sparkling Shiraz or pair buttery milk chocolate options with a lightly fruity Pinot Noir. Read more about pairing chocolate flavors with wine in our Guide to Chocolate.