How to Host a Wine Tasting—Even When You’re Staying In
For your next virtual happy hour, try an online wine tasting. We'll show you how you can sample wines online with your BFFs.
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While staying in, many of us are thinking of creative ways to connect with our friends. Some folks are doing digital game nights, virtual book clubs and online trivia. I’ve been connecting with my pals with regular happy hours, and we’ve been having a lot of fun showing off our cocktail game. We’ve also been enjoying sipping on our favorite wines.
Sure, opening a bottle of what you have at home works just fine, but sampling the same sips can make you feel more connected when you can’t visit in person. That’s where virtual wine tastings come in. These online meetups let you chat with your BFF while trying a rosé you’ve both been eyeing. Here’s how you host a wine tasting with your pals online.
Choose Your Wines
Lisa Kaminski/Taste of Home
The first step of any tasting is to select the wines you’d like to try. There are lots of routes to take with this one!
- Have each taster pick a wine: This is a good way to ensure that everyone will get to sample something they’ll enjoy.
- Try a selection of one type of wine: If you’re all Merlot lovers, try three of them. Love a good bubbly? Try a few champagnes. Going in-depth with one type of wine can be a good way to parse out exactly what you love.
- Sample wines from a single winery: See what your favorite vineyard has to offer and try a few bottles from their assortment. This is what I did with my gal pals and Taste of Home coworkers. We sampled a few wines from Sonoma-Cutrer—a winery I’m fond of. We sampled Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, the Cutrer Chardonnay and a Rosé of Pinot Noir.
Once you’ve made your selections, all that’s left to do is bring them home. Try grocery store pick-up options, wine delivery services or get them shipped to your door right from the winery.
Grab Some Snacks
No wine tasting would be complete without a handful of snacks. You can prep yourself a mini pairing menu if you want to go all out, but simple accouterments like fruit, cheese, nuts and homemade bread are just as delicious.
If you ask me, no tasting is complete without a decent snack spread. These foods are fun to nosh on while you chat, but they also can help clear your palette between samples. My favorite wine tasting snack: a fantastic cheese board. I like to make a small scale version for myself with a few cheeses, grapes, almonds and water crackers.
Link Up with Your Friends
When it comes to hosting a virtual party, there are lots of options. You can try Skype, Zoom, Facebook and plenty of other video platforms. If you can, try chatting via your computer instead of your phone so you can be hands-free. You’ll need them at the ready for uncorking each bottle.
Taste Like a Pro
Nicole Doster/Taste of Home
Now that you’ve chosen your wines and readied your snacks, it’s time to start the wine tasting. You’ll want to sample your wines in a particular order. Camille Berry, sommelier and Taste of Home contributor, recommends this practice: “Go lightest to most full-bodied/lower alcohol to higher alcohol, youngest to oldest, white to red, driest to sweetest.”
With your order set, pour yourselves a small sample and run through the five S’s: see, swirl, sniff, sip and savor. Don’t fell silly giving your wines a swirl or swish. It’s the best way to unlock the flavors and aromas.
Once, you’ve sampled the wines, discuss! My pals and I had a long chat about this Chardonnay. We picked up on some of the same hints on this one. It was fruity but had touches of vanilla and baking spice. Essentially it felt homey—perfect for spending time inside and curling up with your friends via video chat.
Remember to take notes on the wines you sampled—particularly the ones you really enjoyed. Be sure to snag a bottle of your most beloved option and uncork it when you’re able to enjoy a glass together again.