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How to Host a Wine Tasting Party Like a Pro

Bring together all your favorite people for an amazing wine tasting party, complete with food, games and, of course, great wine!

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African woman greeting and embracing female friend for having a new house.Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Send out Invites

First things first: You have to invite everyone to the bash! Mail out cute wine-themed invitations to all your guests—everyone loves receiving physical mail. However, if you don’t have time to send old-fashioned invites, you can also draft up a quick email invitation, as well.

Oh—and don’t forget to include an RSVP so you know how much wine to buy.

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Closeup shot of wine shelf.Valentyn Volkov/Shutterstock

Choose a Wine Theme

Instead of just buying whatever bottles jump off the shelf at you, it’s best to have a game plan when you go shopping. Try to shop at a store with a large selection of wine, and choose a theme for your lineup, whether it’s all pinot noir, all dry white wines or all bottles from California. You can even do it by price point—all bottles under $15 or something similar.

Pick out some on your own, but don’t be afraid to ask staff for their recommendations. They may be able to steer you toward hidden gems.

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Cropped shot of a beautiful happy woman shopping at the supermarket walking with a shopping cart taking wine bottle from a shelfZoriana Zaitseva/Shutterstock

Calculate How Much Wine You Need

We know what you’re thinking: How much wine is needed for a tasting party, exactly? It depends on how many people are attending—so don’t go shopping until everyone RSVPs!

You can get 12 traditional 2-ounce tasting pours from one bottle, so if you have fewer than 10 people, you probably will be OK with one bottle of each wine. However, if you’re a little heavy-handed when pouring, you might only get six to eight glasses from each bottle, so calculate accordingly. (Here’s how much food you need, too.)

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Detail of glasses with red wine samples, on wood counter.ArchonCodex/Shutterstock

Get the Necessary Supplies

You’ll need at least one wine glass per person—however, if you plan on comparing wines, you may need two glasses for each guest. And, yep, glass shape matters. The other supplies include water, spit buckets, palate cleansers such as crackers and paper in case anyone wants to take notes.

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Friends Drinking Wine And Eating CheeseNatashaPhoto/Shutterstock

Plan the Accompanying Menu

What kind of food do you serve at a wine tasting party? You’ll typically want to provide light finger foods for your guests to snack on, so they’re not drinking on an empty stomach. A cheese board with fruit and meat is always a good option, but you can also put out an array of apps—check out our selection of the best appetizers for a wine tasting.

If you want something more substantial, we put together a wine tasting party menu for you, too!

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winegalsses on a settle table outdoortommaso79/Shutterstock

Create an Appropriate Atmosphere

As you set up for your wine night, there are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind. For instance, you’ll want to avoid putting out any smelly flowers or candles, as the aromas can interfere with your tasting.

If you’re planning the event outside, be sure to have some sort of bug repellent available, and you may also want to include mood lighting and gentle background music, too.

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Beautiful terrace or balcony with small table, chair and flowersYulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock

Have Information Handy

No one is expecting you to lead the tasting like a sommelier, but chances are your guests will have a few questions. You’ll want to do a little research in advance on the vineyards, grape varietals and so on. You can even put out wine books for people to flip through—here’s my pick on Amazon.

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The company of young people plays a table game called jenga. VGstockstudio/Shutterstock

Plan a Few Party Games

Don’t let your guests get bored! It’s always beneficial to have a few party games prepared in case of a lull—it can be as simple as your favorite board or card game. However, you might also want to plan a special wine-tasting party game.

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Group of unrecognizable people celebrating while holding wine glasses and toasting.FotoCuisinette/Shutterstock

Include Conversation Starters

To keep the conversation flowing, set out some wine-themed conversation starters. For instance, you could write things like, “Which wine is your favorite so far, and what’s one word you’d use to describe it?”

Pinterest has lots of ideas for conversation cards, some of which you can simply print out if you don’t have time to create them yourself. Or, you could buy a set here.

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Wine bottles in row and oak wine keg.Valentyn Volkov/Shutterstock

Have a Wine Swap to End the Night

Want to send everyone home with a bottle of wine? Ask your guests to bring their favorite bottle for a wine swap. Set them all out on a table, then let everyone choose a bottle on their way out. Bonus points if you decorate them!

Note: Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Camryn Rabideau
Camryn Rabideau is freelance writer specializing in fashion, beauty, home, smart technology and general lifestyle content. She holds a degree in fashion merchandising from the University of Rhode Island and jumps at any opportunity to combine her love for fashion and writing. Despite pressure from her peers, she remains on team #NoOxfordComma.
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