Party like it’s 1999: It’s cold. It’s dark. How about a wine tasting party?
If wine isn’t fun, what’s the point? However, certain personality types have the annoying ability to suck the life out of anything. You know who I’m talking about, don’t you? I can see you nodding. No place is this truer than wine. Don't let that happen to you. Please. And I’m not one of those either, scout’s honor.
Never hosted a wine party? Well, what better thing to do during these cold winter months? The truth is, most people like the idea of a wine tasting party, but when they think of actually hosting one, it’s another story. A lot of people shy away because they feel that they don’t know enough about wine. They’re not wine experts, and you have to be a wine expert to run a wine tasting, right? Wrong!
Folks I’ve talked to about this often: pick wine based on a pretty label or a store’s recommendation. One of our customers I was speaking to about this, Catherine, said, “When I’m done with a glass, I can tell you if I liked it or not, but my review ends there. The whole wine thing just sounds daunting.”
Catherine, we hear you! What I’d like to do today, is to convince you that hosting a wine party can be fun and easy. Your party can be as fancy or as informal as you want and what better thing to do in the suburbs of Boston in the middle of winter? Add a little food and some music in the background and I call that a good time.
So, without further ado, the uber simple, can't be screwed up Metro West Wines, “Wine Tasting for Dummies (Lite).” We’ll probably get a call from their lawyers.
Let’s get started. I’m a big fan of learning what are called the 4 S’s of wine. While I didn’t make this system up, it’s pretty damn good anyway. I’ve always taught that the most important way to learn about wine is to try as many different types as possible. That’s your a starting point. Now let me give you a little vocabulary to help you talk about a particular wine in relation to another. You can teach this to your party guests.
Step 1: Seeing
After you pour the wine into the appropriate glass, look at the color. Hold the wine up to a white napkin, so you can really see the variations in the red or yellow color. The wine should be clear not murky.
Step 2: Swirling
Gently move the wine round the glass, coat the sides of the a little. This adds oxygen to the wine, opening it up, so you can taste the wine at its best and will help you identify scents.
Step 3: Smelling
Stick your nose deep in the glass – now’s not the time to worry about being rude! Try to identify what you’re smelling. Here are scents to look for: For whites: grapefruit, lemon, lime, pineapple or melon. Also, see if you can pick out vanilla or oak. For reds: cherry, strawberry, blackberry or plum, and coffee, smoke, or chocolate.
Step 4: Sipping
At last, the step you were waiting for! Coat your entire mouth with wine, getting every nook and cranny. After you swallow, pay attention to how the wine lingers in your mouth and what happens to your taste buds. Don’t just stop at one sip. It can take two or three before your taste buds wake up. Sometimes at first sip you might not think you like it, but on third sip, you find it's delicious. The first question to ask yourself: Do you like it? Or do you not like it? Then try to identify the different flavors you've smelled, along with characteristics such as sweetness, tanginess, and alcohol content.
Compare Notes: Put those "4 S's" to good use. By recording your thoughts on the wine you've sampled, you'll start to identify patterns in wines you've enjoyed—and ones not so much.
To make this easier, I’ve tried a few apps like Hello Vino, which lets you take a photo of the bottle and add such information as year, price, rating, sweetness, smell, and alcohol content. I'm not afraid of geeking out now and then.
Food: The final frontier
One of the most funnest aspects of wines, in my humble opinion, is trying differents types with your favorite foods. For many people this is also the most intimidating. Mostly because of the so called “experts” proclamations about the rules of what goes with what. It’s all BS of course, what’s important is what you like. But, as starting point, we have turned those rules into a web tool resource available on our website. We call it “Cuisine Match.” Give it a try.
Want some help making this all happen? Drop us a line.
Did this help? Even a little? Let us know. That’s it for now... be back soon.