Many large and small businesses offer employees guided wine tastings with our sommeliers. Our team has organized hundreds of wine events and has developed a list of creative ideas and best practices for managing successful ones.
You can host your wine-tasting event, private party, or home- or office wine event using the information below.
The Sommelier Company can help you find a competent sommelier to run your tasting. Do not fall for the temptation to hire an inexperienced presenter to save some money.
Our sommeliers have been tested for public speaking and are certified by the best sommelier education organizations. They also live near your event venue. Ask us about our credentials. Our responsive office team will also prepare your event flawlessly.
A. Selecting The Wines
1. It is best to have between 8-10 wines for a tasting. To better understand the differences in flavor, guests should try two wines at a time.
2. You should therefore provide two glasses of wine for each guest. If you hire a sommelier, they can bring additional drinks.
3. For up to 12 people, one bottle of wine will suffice. This is 8-10 bottles for 8-10 wines. To ensure that everyone has a good experience, each guest will need an additional bottle.
4. A bottle holds approximately 13 pours, each of two ounces. This is an excellent tasting amount, but guests should consume only eight to ten wines in one bottle. Unfinished samples should be available in pouring buckets.
5. It is a common mistake to show only American wines at your tasting. There are many wine varieties worldwide, so it is a mistake to only show American wines at your tasting. It is better to teach guests how to appreciate different wines. It costs less to showcase global wines.
6. A sparkling wine, such as Champagne, Cava, or Prosecco, is a standard welcome drink. However, flute-shaped glasses are required for this.
7. Two to three white wines and six to seven red wines are recommended. While most people like red wines, a variety of white wines will give you a more balanced taste.
8. Consider the best classic wine and region combinations when choosing wines. But keep it varied. Here are some ideas:
– Chardonnay (France)
– Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre, France
– Riesling from Mosel, Germany
Viognier from Condrieu, France
– Chenin Blanc, Vouvray (France) or South Africa
Gewurztraminer aus Alsace (France).
– Albarino (Spain), Rias Baixas
Pinot Noir from Burgundy, Oregon, or New Zealand
Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux (France) or Napa Valley
– Cabernet Franc (France)
Syrah from Australia or the Rhone Valley (France)
– Sangiovese (“Chianti” or “Brunello di Montalcino”) from Tuscany (Italy)
– Nebbiolo from Barolo or Barbaresco (Italy)
Tempranillo de Rioja (Spain).
– Grenache, Southern Rhone Valley (France).
– Gamay (France)
– Malbec, Argentina
Zinfandel from Paso Robles, California
9. Allow the sommelier to assist you in choosing individual wines if you are hiring one. He’s experienced in tasting many wines, so he can help you choose the right wine for your budget.
10. Avoid buying wine at a supermarket. These wines are often more expensive and less quality than those in a wine shop. They also tend to need a more comprehensive selection. Call us to find out which wine shop is the most competitively priced in your area. You can ship wine from any state to most of the U.S., but you will need to pay around $30 for shipping.
11. For the end of the evening, consider a sweet or fortified white wine such as Sauternes dessert wine (or Port). Even better, pair it with dessert. Perhaps creme brûlée with Sauternes or chocolate cake with Port.
B. The Format Of The Tasting
1. It can be a great way to build excitement and set the mood for the tasting by introducing it beforehand. Perhaps:
– The Best Grapes From Around the World
– Wines rated 95 or higher
Wines of Italy
– A Night in Tuscany
– The Old World vs. the New World
– France vs. Italy
France vs. California
– Exploring The Southern Hemisphere
– Wine & Food Pairing: Serve a heavy appetizer along with each wine
Vintage wines that are in keeping with the theme of an anniversary or birthday
2. Perhaps your friends are interested in something other than wine. Instead, offer them a whiskey tasting, where they can sample important Scotches, Bourbons, and Tennessee whiskey. We do have whiskey experts available for tasting events.
3. Blind tasting can make the event more exciting and competitive. Each wine bottle can be placed in a paper bag, and guests can try to identify which one based on their experience or textbook clues.
4. To make your event social, educational, and memorable, bring in a sommelier or wine educator to lead the tasting.
5. You can choose between a relaxed walk-around with tasting stations or a more structured sit-down dinner with choreographed presentations course-by-course.
6. You can host an event at your home, but you might want to avoid renting a venue. Many restaurants will allow you to buy your dinner and provide a private space and corkage for any wines.
7. To avoid unpleasant surprises, give clear guidelines about the wine type (grape, region combination, price level) and how much each guest should drink. This is not the best way to go.
C. Food Pairing Considerations
1. The event’s theme should align with the food you prepare, or at the very least, not differ too much. Wines are best enjoyed with food, such as most French and Italian wines.
2. Wine pairings are often complemented by cheese, honey, charcuterie, and chocolate. A guided cigar tasting, with live rollers, can be arranged if you have outdoor access. These and many other delights are available from our experts, such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tea, jam, and more.
D. Recommended Wine Budget
1. For quality wines, expect to spend between $20-$90 per guest
2. We recommend $50 per person for an impressive tasting.
E. Logistics and Setup
1. Before and during the event, chill the white wines (preferably on ice).
2. Pouring buckets can be placed around the venue so guests can dispose of any wine they don’t want. This is particularly important if there is a lot of wine available.
3. Wine shops sell special pens that temporarily sign guests’ names on glassware or number bottles with labels to allow blind tastings.
4. Keep guests from getting into the pool area by avoiding glassware. Plastic glassware is also an option if you are going for a summer or outdoor theme.
5. Make sure your guests only drink a little or drive. You can encourage small tastings and the use of buckets.
F. Complete Supply Checklist
– Space and location suitable for events
– Tables & chairs (for seated events).
– For reception-style events, there are tasting stations (6-10 feet per station)
– High-top tables and other furniture for reception-style events
– Table covers and other decorations
– Wines and spirits for tasting
– 2 wine glasses per person for seated events and 1 for reception-style events.
– Ice buckets and cooling crates
Ice is often needed to taste white wine, beer, and whiskey.
– Throw buckets
– Pens and paper (for attendees to take notes)
– Wine glass marker pens
Mini-plates and forks, as well as display platters to serve food/pairing products
– Water glasses or bottles for the attendees
Clean up after the event
The Sommelier Company has organized thousands of wine-tasting events across the United States and abroad. We offer turn-key programs for all U.S. metropolitan areas and worldwide.