I am responsible for conducting a wine class/tasting/session/fun event in 3 weeks. My knowledge of wine is modest but my audience is at basic no nothing level. I am asking for ideas on what would entertain them for about 1 1/2 hours. Obviously feeding them wine helps...but beyond that I need suggestions. I want to educate yes but not bore them. Things we may find interesting glass type, grape type, fancy tasting desciptives may not be there style.
All ideas welcome and appreciated. The more creative the better. Any sites out ther to help plan an event like this. How much wine should I plan to pour for about 50 people.
Thanks...I realize many questions
Original Post
That's very large gathering. So you'll need 4 bottles of each wine for a 2oz pour per person.

Do you have a theme for the tasting? Are you buying the wine and if so, what's your budget?

No theme yet..like I said they are at a ground level zero as far as wine tasting. I'm looking to get some orginal ideas about how to conduct tasting. Have folks ever done their own tastings for audiences. Thanks for info on amount..That helps
One evening is not a lot to introduce wine to newbies...

We do a 10 night course over a year and that's not spanning the entire wine world.

In fact people want to know roughly how to taste, before the carry on about grape varieties, ava's, d.o.c.g.'s and a.c.'s.
Maybe you can introduce the appreciation of color, smell and taste along a tasting, but that's supposing you have a basic skill yourself.

To an unprepared public (50 people, geeez man), you may want to pick four pairs of wines made of the obvious grapes. Each time a nice inexpensive one and a very good medium priced one (unless you work with the rich and you move a bit to the right, pricewise). Two sauvignons, two chardonnays, two pinot noirs, two cabernet sauvignons.

Get some information about how those grapes (have to) taste, compare the cheaper with the more expensive ones. Give some background about the regions of production.

Depending on how much time you want to spend, you can give the same flight again, this time blind and make the audience guess which is which and which is the prefered wine. A little game resulting in the most loved white and red wine...

Something like that.
But of course I haven't got a clue about who's going to be in your party.
I like Rik's suggestions, but with an hour and a half of presentation I'd recommend filling in the middle ground of the whites and reds with Riesling and Merlot.

A good book to reference (and one that I found useful when first trying to seriously explore wines) is Andrea Immer's "Great Wine Made Simple". She has some guidance on going through a tasting, and at the least you can grab some buzzwords on the typical aromas and flavors that these major varietals present.
Great suggestions. I like the idea of picking 4 wine types. Dry to Semi-sweet. I would like to through in some fun facts and jokes about wine.
Anyone know any jokes...tidbits that you really like.
Other than the number of guests, I've hosted wine-tastings similar to what you describe (me moderate knowledge, guests little knowledge).
I think the the key is to pick strongly contrasting wines within a theme.
--Most successful was a tasting of "Sweet Wines". We tasted a late-harvest Vidal, a Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh, a medium-sweet Madeira, a Tokaji Aszu, and a PedroXimenez Sherry.

(1)It was easy to convince people that these were interesting (many people aren't that intested in peering into a merlot)... It took no prodding to get them to consider and debate what kinds of flavours they were tasting.

(2)it was easy to collect history, wine-making techinques, etc for each wine.

(3)sweet wines are something many people think they've experienced before (most often sickly sweet memories), and will enjoy having those memories stretched.
if you're going to go with the mainstream (Cab, Merlot, Chard etc)... try reaching for the greatest contrasts possible:
Syrah (smoke, tar, bacon from the Rhone), Shiraz (Oz fruit-bomb style), and Shiraz (fortified "Port"style).
Grenache... a couple contrasting dry reds (look among Chateauneuf, Oz, Spain), a rose (Tavel), and a fortified (Banyuls).
Once you choose a handful of wines, you should be able to collect stories, and whatever else to talk about. I think the more distinctive the wine, the easier this will be. (Its much easier to amuse a crowd talking about Tokaji, than about California Merlot).

good luck.
You might also want to check out the Tasting Guide at Wine Spectator School. It includes a step-by-step tasting, pages for writing tasting notes, and a how to taste page. It contains a lot of the info you need; plus, it's free.

Tell us how your tasting goes!
Great Idea.
It can be lots of fun. One thing to remember is to not overcomplicate the issue with learning vino drinkers.
I have done these in past and have had a good time. Suggestion for first time tasting is to take 6 varietals, 3 white and 3 red.
Chardonnay, Reisling, Pinot Gris. Cabernet, Shiraz or Zinfandel, and a Pinot Noir. You will have 6 very distinctive variatels which most people should be able to tell differences.

If able to have food, do so. Cheese, fruit, meats. Pair the wines with food. Explain why they match if you know. If not just have it anyway. They will eat it.

Have a little info about each one. Where variatels are from, tasting charactoristics, and origins. That is enough info for beginners.
They should be able to enjoy without being overwhelmed.

Try also to have each wine from a different country or region. Such as
Cab Sauv - California
Shiraz - Australia
Pinot Noir - Oregon
Chardonnay - France
Reisling - Germany
Pinot Grigio - Italy

All these will have distinct charactoristics that these countries and/or regions are known for.
Have a contest. See who knows their wines. Winner gets a bottle.
Should be a good time.
Purple Smiles!
Some good drinking quotes-

Booze is the answer. I just don't remember the question.

Who needs friends when you can sit alone in your room and drink ?

I think hangovers are the body's way of telling us we didn't drink enough to still be drunk when we woke up the next day. — Tidewater Joe.

Alcohol is like love: the first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you just take the girl's clothes off. - Unknown

Not all men who drink are poets. Some of us drink because we aren't poets.

Don't bother trying to join the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It turns out they're apparently against all three. — Wiley.

A bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory.

I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day. Frank Sinatra

I was drowning my sorrows but they learned to swim. — U2

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