Wine Tasting Party Ideas

Blind Tasting Party

1) Pick a theme: one varietal from several producers in one region; one varietal from various regions around the world, etc.

2) Invite a small group of friends (four to ten). Make sure there's enough stemware for a glass per wine per person. (Have people bring their own if you don't have enough!) You'll also need paper and a pen or pencil for each person.

3) Plan on providing up to six wines or ask each guest or couple to bring a wine wrapped in a brown paper bag.

4) The tasting should take place in a well lit room with a white tablecloth or placemat. No fragrant candles, perfume or foods before the tasting and no talking during the tasting!

5) Mark the bags and base of glasses with a letter and pour in order.

6) Guests taste the wines and guess the varietal, region or producer OR list their preference. In the first, the guest with the most correct answers wins. In the latter, the guest who brought the most popular wine wins. How about a bottle of Merryvale-Beckstoffer Vineyard X Cab!

Wine Blending Party

This one can get messy, but it's loads of fun.

1) Ideally, participants have pure varietal wines to blend, but since single-varietal wines are hard to find, use wines with a varietal on the label - e.g. Starmont Cab. That ensures it's at least 75% of that varietal.

2) Plan to make traditional blends such as 'Bordeaux' from Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot or 'Super Tuscan' from Sangiovese, Merlot, Cab Sauv and Syrah. Or, create non-traditional blends such as Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, or even reds and whites together.

3) Each team will need a carafe and measuring cup, and enough stemware to taste the final blends side-by-side. Figure enough wine for a four-ounce taste for everyone.

4) Guests begin by tasting the wines to ascertain their qualities. If the Cab is young and tannic, the 'player' might use a greater proportion of Merlot to make the blend more approachable.

5) Participants measure their predominant varietal and pour it into their decanter. They then add smaller amounts of the other varietal wines until the blend is the best they can make. Remind everyone to keep track of their blend (e.g. 70% Starmont Cab, 30% Starmont Merlot) to compare at the end.

6) Each guest tastes the final blends 'blind' and rates the wines on complexity and drinkability. Best one wins - perhaps Merryvale's flagship blend 'Profile'!

Pairing & Sharing Party

1) Set a theme (French, Italian, Greek, Indian, etc).

2) Have each guest or couple bring a course and the accompanying wine!

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