Posted by DebbieTuesday, February 24th, 2015
Have you been renovating all winter? Show off your new digs by having friends and neighbours over for a do-it-yourself wine tasting? It does not need to be an overly grand production, rather a novel ‘reason’ to have people over to ooh and ahhh about your handy work.
Like hiring a designer or contractor, you can call on a Sommelier (check out our 17 Savvy Sommeliers who are there to help you) to take care of all the details and work with a caterer to prepare a menu paired with each wine. Here’s our tips & trick on hosting your own wine tasting:
Depending on how formal and structured you would like the experience to be, a wine tasting can be conducted at a large dining room table with rows of wine glasses waiting to be sampled. For a more casual experience, try a reception style in your family room, but the reality is that everyone may end up in the kitchen. This way they can help themselves to a table full of different wines and platters of hors d’oeuvres throughout the evening.
Step 2 – What’s your theme?
Your wine tasting event can focus on exploring wines of a certain country or region or can examine one type of wine such as Pinot Noirs, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnays from various wine regions around the world.
The top 5 themes for wine tastings that our Savvy Sommeliers design & host are:
A Trip Around the World in 5 Glasses
Cheese, Chocolate & Wine!
An Endless Night of Bubbles! (showcasing different styles of sparkling wines)
Passionate about Pinot (featuring Pinot Gris & Pinot Noirs from around the world)
Be Adventurous – wines under $20 you’ve never tried
With your theme in mind, now comes the fun part of selecting the wines. Here are tips from the pros at Savvy Company:
Welcome your guests into your newly-renovated home with a glass of sparkling wine. The popping of the cork sets the mood for a party (watch that it does not spray onto your freshly-painted walls or hit the ceiling!) and a glass of bubbly cleanses and refreshes your palette, preparing it for the evening ahead of delicious wines and foods.
Feature 5 to 7 wines as too many wines will ‘numb’ your palette. Each sampling of wine should be approximately two ounces (about one inch in an ISO wine tasting glass…more about glasses below). This equates to serving 10 people per bottle of wine.
Step 4 – What about food?
Wine is made to be enjoyed with food. At a minimum, offer your guests sliced baguettes and water crackers to cleanse & refresh their palettes between wines. To augment the food selection, have an artisan cheese board with an assortment of hard, soft and blue veined cheeses. Go a step further and enhance the wine and food experience by pairing each wine with hors d’oeuvres.
Tip from the pros: leave pickles, dips & vegetable sticks for another party and serve foods like grilled vegetables, hearty meatballs, chicken satay, roasted nuts & olives …and don’t forget cheese!
Now…Let the fun begin!
Enjoying wine engages all of your senses. There are no rules to wine tasting as everyone’s impression is personal and this makes for interesting conversation. I always say, “Wine tasting is as easy as eyes, nose and mouth.” With each wine, take note of the colour (eyes), the aromas (nose) and the flavours (mouth).
Let’s taste a wine together… Pour approximately two ounces into your wine glass.
Tilt the glass 45 degrees away from you, using a white tablecloth as the backdrop and notice:
The colour and clarity of the wine.
What colour does it remind you of:
Whites – pale straw or golden
Rosés – cotton candy pink, salmon or terracotta
Reds – garnet, fire engine red, cherry, purple, ink or opaque
Aromas or bouquet, however you call it, Sommelier pros suggest to hold the ISO tasting glass by the stem, swirl the wine in a steady circular motion to introduce air into the wine to release the aromas.
What does the wine smell like?
Basic descriptors are:
Sparkling wines – nutty, refreshing, crisp
White wines – dry, floral, citrus, tropical fruit, pineapple, pears, apples
Reds – cherry, strawberry, blackberry, earthy, vanilla, leather, dried fruit
And now to taste! Take a sip, chew the wine (as if it were mouthwash) to coat your entire mouth.
Is the wine light, medium or full bodied?
Does the wine taste the same as it smells?
Do the flavours linger or disappear?
Try each wine with food and note how the food changes your enjoyment of the wine.
After an evening of swirling, sipping and perhaps spitting, it is no wonder that a wine tasting is a fun way to explore the world of wines as well as socializing in your newly renovated home.
Tools of the trade
ISO wine tasting glasses: These tulip shaped glasses (right) allow you to easily swirl 2 ounces of wine and the narrow rim captures the aromas. For a formal tasting, one glass per featured wine is needed per person, or a casual cocktail style event requires one glass per person to re-use throughout the event.
White tablecloth: drape your table with a basic white tablecloth so that your guests can use it white background to really see the colour of the wines
Pitcher of Water: for rinsing the glasses and refreshing your palette in between wines
Spitoon or bucket: used to empty unwanted wine and rinsing water.
Don’t forget the corkscrew!
If you are DIY-ed out and want a Sommelier to design and organize a fun wine event in your home, call on our Savvy Sommeliers us anytime 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926).
Or join us at our Taste & Buy events to sip and sample Ontario wines which are not available at the LCBO.
Next event: County in the Capital – Wednesday April 8th- featuring hard-to-find wines, craft beers & ciders from Prince Edward County. Tickets $65 + bring a friend for $1. Buy your tickets quickly – this event will sell out fast!>>
This article appears in the ‘Spaces’ issue of Ottawa Life Magazine – March/April 2015