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December 9, 2022

How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

Post By:
Cynthia Betancourt
In-House Contributor
Restaurateur & Advanced Sommelier
Guest Contributor:

Forget white elephant. A wine tasting makes the perfect activity for your upcoming holiday party! Once you understand the basics on how to taste wine, the greatest gift you can give is sharing this skill with others. It’s a fun and memorable experience too.

Throwing a wine tasting party may sound intimidating if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, it’s really quite simple if you follow these basic guidelines. (Guidelines… not rules! Don’t stress- have fun!) 

Here is your complete guide to throwing a truly unforgettable wine tasting party!

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Start with a Theme 

If it’s the first gathering, consider asking the group what they like. If they prefer white wine over red, then white it is! Here are some ideas to take it to the next level and enhance your theme.

A Tasting Tour of White Wines  Explore the difference between Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon etc.

White Wines from around the World Transport your guests to different parts of the globe with white wines that capture the essence of each region. 

Regional Wines Wines of Chile, Wines of California, etc. You can expand your theme into the food and music selections too! Dress it up- wear a beret for Wines of France and voila- theme in full effect!

Focus on One Grape Varietal – Love Pinot Noir? Do a trip around the world featuring Pinot Noirs from different countries.

Dolce & Dessert Wines – Skip the charcuterie and consider an unexpected approach with a dessert wine tasting! For this one, you won’t need as much wine per guest. The norm is usually one to two ounces of per glass.

Bubbles – We all enjoy a glass of Champagne, but there are other options out there, such as Prosecco, Cava, Franciacorta. Consider exploring the varieties of sparkling wine from just about every wine region in the world!

Select your Glassware 

If you indulge in one feature, please splurge on high-quality crystal wine glasses! It really does impact the taste of the wine. Now, I’m not suggesting you break the bank, however, as long as it is lead-free crystal, you are good to go. My top recommendations are Riedel or Schott Zwiesel. When washing your glassware, use hot water only and a clean, lint-free cloth to shine them. NO DISH SOAP, since it leaves a residue. It also leaves scent contamination, which taints the wine’s aroma.

Make Sure Your Wines Are the Perfect Temperature 

Follow the 20/20 rule: Take white wines out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving, and put the red wine in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Food Pairings 

Avoid chocolate and cheese. Yes- cheese! I know this is a cornerstone for most charcuterie boards, however, cheese (and chocolate) alter the wines considerably. Usually plain charcuterie works best. If you wish to keep the cheese options, parmigiano and white cheddar are ideal. Consider fun and surprising food pairings that accompany the region, grape varietal, or overall theme.


Playing games can help break the ice and keep the fun going. Try this fun wine bingo game from Amazon! Consider bottles of wine featured in your tasting as prizes for the winners.


The right music can help set the tone for your gathering! If you are doing a Tuscan wine tasting, set the mood with a modern Italian playlist. Every little detail helps to enhance the experience of those first sips. 

Like scent, wine has the power to evoke wonderful memories of people, places, and food.  What a special gift to give to your guests- happy hosting!