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I am hosting a wine party in the upcoming weeks for a charitable organization and just need some feedback. I will also be pairing food with everything too.

Obviously I do have a budget and there should be around 40 people. So, probably 4 bottles of wine each. I am having issues narrowing down my flight, just so much I'd love to share.

I have been in the wine business for such a long time, and I know so many good wines but to narrow it down is, for whatever reason, becoming difficult.

There are a couple of 'must-haves' seeing as it's my Girlfriends charity. I'm just the source and knowledge.

How is this line-up?

Riesling -GF must-have
Pinot Noir
Cabernet Sauv
Possibly a dessert- either Dessert wine or Port

Being in the wine industry, I would love to throw on a Zinfandel seeing as most of these people are probably wine novice... so they associate Zin with White Zin and I want to break that fear. Also throw some Malbec and even some American or Australian Syrah/Shriaz. But, my list of the flight keeps getting higher. Or a really nice hefty Meritage/Bordeaux style blend sounds nice. Should I keep it all American with my flight or should I go to each wine and select it where it's known for... ie Riesling get a German, Chardonnay a nice Chablis from France etc.

Keep it simple? All American? Just 6 wines?

Need help cutting it down or is that flight sufficient for wine novices (possibly a few knowledgeable people will be there)? I have all the wines I could possibly want... but there is just so much to explore and to share with others...
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Originally posted by JohnBev:

I am hosting a wine party in the upcoming weeks for a charitable organization and just need some feedback. I will also be pairing food with everything too.

Then it's not a wine tasting. It's a wine dinner or wine with snacks.

I've done a number of these for charities and we do the wine tasting first, then sit down to a dinner with the wines we tasted. The only thing to eat during the tasting is baguette as a palate cleanser. You can't properly evaluate a wine if you're tasting it with food.
With 40 people milling about and socializing, it will be difficult to corral them all in for a formal tasting, unless you sit them all down. Will it be a formal tasting with dinner, or is it more of a cocktail party with a variety of wines?

If it is the latter, then don't waste your time with so many varietals. If most of the folks are novices, then stick to the basics, 2-3 whites (Chard, riesling), 3 reds (Cab, Pinot, Merlot).
I do it every year for a group of 50-60 people. We taste 10 wines, 5 white and 5 red. I arrange 5 large oblong tables with the wrapped numbered bottles (one at each end of the table), water pitchers, dump/spit buckets, plates with sliced baguettes, and numbered tasting sheets. It's actually quite easy to set up. I go over the procedure with the attendees in advance and everything always runs smoothly.
Perhaps I misspoke about it being a wine tasting.

It will be more of a 'cocktail/wine' party, I suppose. Each wine will be with a small taste of food to enhance the combination between food and wine. Since there won't be dinner the 5 or 6 small plates will have to be enough to make them somewhat satisfied.

I'll be the one pouring on one side of the room and my girlfriend on the other. I would be available for the questions on the wine and the more in-depth discussion on the combination.

Why does it go well with this dish?... What are the characteristics of this particular wine?... What else may be suited for your palate?... etc.

Perhaps the basics like Wine Doc suggested is the best route... keep it simple and let the guests branch out on their own and I'd be glad to show them the road.

Perhaps with a more small group would be good to host a blind-tasting... those are always a blast.


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