Tips for Hosting a Holiday Blind Wine Tasting
There are so many different party “themes” you can do for the holidays. From a simple holiday cocktail party, to an “Ugly Sweater” party, white elephant or secret Santa, the list goes on. Some might consider these to be traditional or fun while others might be over dressing up in an terribly ugly holiday sweater to drink eggnog all night. To each their own! However, if you are looking for a new holiday party theme this year, what better way to incorporate our favorite wine to drink during the holidays and host a holiday themed blind wine tasting!
I have been dying to host a blind wine tasting party for our friends and thought how perfect it would be to tie this party into the holiday party we throw this year. Gather together your wine drinking friends, pick out a few bottles to taste test (keeping the bottles disguised and hidden of course), and later all guess what types of wine they each are to see who really is the expert. This can be such an easy set up, but still can be a beautiful and classy holiday event.
Here, are a few of my top tips for hosting a holiday blind wine tasting:
For a blind wine tasting, it’s good to diversify the selection of wines from crisp, bright options to bold, rich, full-bodied wines. I recommend getting three whites and three reds to even things out, starting the tasting with the whites and then moving to the reds.
In my whites lineup I used the 2014 Carmel Road Monterey Riesling, 2015 Matanzas Creek Winery Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc and 2014 La Crema’s Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. For reds, I used the 2012 Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 La Crema’s Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and the 2013 Arrowood Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. All were a great array of domestic wines to taste, analyze and compare.
To hide the label of the bottle there are a few ways you can do it:
- If you’re feeling crafty, these numbered labels were super simple to make! Using a stencil, simply draw out each number (1, 2, 3) on a piece of paper. Make sure to measure the paper around the bottles label so it’s completely hidden. Secure the number around the bottle with tape. This makes it easy for you to later reveal the wine.
- If you aren’t feeling so crafty and/or want to hide the entire bottle, you can use a plain paper bag or fancier velvet wine tote. Just be sure to number the bag as well!
A wine tasting is not complete without some light bites to munch on while tasting the wines. Your friends will thank you! To keep it simple, choose three cheeses that pair well with each of the wines (when in doubt, go mild). Red and white wines can go well with the same cheeses too!
Have crackers and other accoutrements to pair with the cheese on the tables in bowls or on the cheese boards. Encourage guests to taste the cheeses with the wine to get the full flavor effect. This handy infographic can help you pick your cheeses.
For décor keep your color palette simple! During the holidays my favorite color combination is gold, green and white — a very simple, but classic holiday look. For the centerpiece I simply used greenery I picked up from my local grocery store, laying it out on the table and adding gold round ornaments throughout. These gold taper candle holders are my absolute favorite table setting accessory I have invested in. I used gold candles for this particular setting, but these holders pair well with any color.
Since I don’t have six glasses for everyone attending, I set three glasses at each place setting since we had three whites and three reds, and just rinsed the glasses in between tasting. The glasses I used were Burgundy glasses, but Bordeaux or any simple wine glass works too.
Tie a small number to each glass so your guests know which bottle the glass of wine came from. Each place setting also had their own marble cheese board (you can also use wood ones) with their accompanying cheeses along with a bowl of crackers. Lastly, these wine tasting cards from DWC Creative (you can special order them from her!) were the perfect touch to be the name place setting card as well!
For the blind wine tasting cards you can make them however you want to guide the tasting of your wines. These ones by DWC Creative number the wine and have a line for “notes,” including appearance, aroma, body, taste and finish. Each guest is to rate each category 1-5, five being the best on their feelings towards the wine. Below the rating there’s an area for guests to write any comments about the wine as well. These cards make it a fun way for guests to really focus on the full effect of tasting the wines. This holiday party is sure to make (or at least try to make) you and your guests a wine expert!
At the end of each tasting, it’s time to reveal the wines! My favorite part after the reveal is hearing everyone discuss their favorites and/or surprise as to which they liked best. It’s even better when the wine they favorited isn’t one they typically purchase.
I hope you enjoy these tips! Let us know in the comments how you like to host your blind wine tastings.
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Photos by Pure Lee Photography
Calligraphy by DWC Creative