There’s nothing I love more than getting together with my girlfriends and drinking wine. We are huge vino fans, and I mean, who isn’t?
I feel like I have reached the level of a minor league “wine snob” and my palette has definitely become more refined over the past decade. I was always the girl that would drink champagne with takeout and bottles of Veuve or Dom as gifts from my husband on those special occasions. I guess I do have my hubby to thank, because he’s actually the one who discovered 90+ Cellars!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with 90+ Cellars, they find the greatest wines from vineyards all over the globe and bring them to us – their customers, for a fraction of the price by getting rid of the middle man. Essentially, you are getting fine wine for a fraction of the price! Amazing, right?!
Last summer my husband brought home the sauvignon blanc and it was SO tasty! It was very well balanced and became one of our summer faves! Little did I know that 90+ Cellars would become my go-to, always-stocked-in-the-beverage-fridge, favourite wine distributor because well, they simply have the best.
Because I love so many of their wines, I decided to host a super fun wine tasting at my home. We had such a great time, and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of doing something like this before. If you’re contemplating the idea of hosting your own wine tasting, here are my go-to tips and tricks on how to make it go off without a hitch!
I totally recommend including a tasting before lunch or dinner. Usually my girlfriends and I will hit a winery before our mid-day meal or prior to going for supper, then take a bottle of our favourite home with us and open it during dinner.
Hosting a wine tasting in your home is no different. Having the wine tasting before a meal is a perfect transition, because when the sampling is done, your guests can choose which of those wines they would like to enjoy with dinner. Something to remember: don’t go crazy with the amount of wine you purchase either. No more than 8-10 samples total is needed for an afternoon of tasting. When serving, pour only one to two ounces per glass – this allows for left overs that can be served with your next meal.
There are two ways you can select your wines for your tasting party:
A. You could just walk into your liquor store and grab some random bottles and hope no one notices if they don’t flow well, or
B: You can plan it out and do it right. Remember, we’re throwing a real soiree here. So, some ways you can select your wines are by region, by year, and/or by category.
For the region, you may decide you want to try all wines from a specific Country (for example. all French wines). This is definitely the easiest route if your friends like various categories of wines, and particularly if you’re not sure on the pairing situation. As well, keeping it themed to one region can be great when it comes to food selection. If you’re serving up wine from Northern Italy for example, some northern Italian fare would be the perfect fit.
If you would rather choose based on category and focus on vintages, you could go with for example, eight bottles of a 1990 Bordeaux from a variety of regions. If you know your girlfriends all hate white wine and always go for a Merlot, this is a great way to sample a few different regions while sticking with one category.
For this wine tasting I chose the Lot 75 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, CA 2016. The Magic Door Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sancerre, France ($19.99.) The Lot 33 Rosé, Languedoc, France, 2017 ($11.99.) The Lot 132 Rosé, Cotes de Provence, France. 2017 ($14.99.) The Lot 50 Prosecco, Veneto, Italy NV ($11.99.) ALL of these wines are phenomenal. I knew my girlfriends would love them!
The Actual Tasting
Wine tastings should be done blind. Your guests should not see the bottles. You want an honest opinion and don’t want guests to be swayed by brands. Also, use a white tablecloth on your wine tasting table so your girlfriends can examine the color of the wine without a color bias. Additionally, try and avoid fragrances in the room. It’s important to remember that we taste with our eyes and nose first, so a strong scent in the room could alter your flavour pallet.
Wines should also be chilled to specific temperatures depending on whether you’re serving red or white. White wines should be chilled between 50 and 55 degrees and a red should be served closer to room temperature at 60 to 65 degrees.
Another thing to remember is that it’s important to clear your palate between tastings. This will allow your guests to taste each wine uniquely, without the flavours being impacted by the previous wines. Some wonderful appetizer compliments to wine tastings are cheeses, fruit, crackers and bread.
Now technically for a proper wine tasting, one would need a spit bucket but since we’re doing this at home with our girlfriends, no bucket required.
Be sure to compare tastes, try the wine with food and vote on your favorite. For some extra fun, vote blind and reveal the labels after a winner has been declared.
Ladies, enjoy throwing a wine tasting! It’s so much fun and I promise you’ll wish you had done it months ago. Be sure to share some photos with me or drop a comment about how your tasting went!
Thank you to 90+ Cellars for sponsoring this post, and as always, all opinions are 100% authentic and my own.