Many of us continue to long for that moment when we can once again sit at an indoor restaurant and enjoy a nice bottle of wine with dinner and friends or take a road trip to the vineyards to unwind and sip. While not nearly the same, there are ways we can fill the gap in the meantime. Gather a few close friends or family one lazy weekend and give one of these a try in your home.
Yes, you don’t need to hit the trail to do wine tasting. You can bring the trail to your very own home. The goal here is to keep it simple. Let the wine be the focus of the experience and build it around a theme. For example, you can pick a particular varietal, or region, or vintage. Or maybe even take a deep dive into a particular vineyard. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, you can find a number of pre-picked tasting sets here from Wine.com or here from WTSO. And to help elevate the experience, check out our wine tasting shop with a few items you might find handy.
This is where you kick it up a notch. Now the focus is not just the wine but how wine evolves and compliments food. Again, themes are always great, but dinner pairings require a lot more thoughtful planning. If you enjoy cooking yourself, you’’ll want to check out these books on wine pairing and some of our favorite and most versatile dinnerware and serving ware for dinner parties. We are big fans of small bites (tapas, cheese boards, and charcutier) and often make entire meals out of them. If you are as well, be sure to check out our blog “Pairing Made Simple”.
BYOB Wine Party
This is one of my favorite events. Bring-Your-Own-Bottle (“BYOB”) themes allow you to really get to know your guests in a meaningful way. I tend to pick themes around experiences. For example, “Bring a bottle of wine that made you first go ‘WOW!’” Or “Bring your most memorable bottle of wine.” Or even a slight twist on that theme, “Bring the bottle of wine that you shared during a special moment in your life.” Have your guests bring the wine bottle with the labels covered (e.g., a paper bag, blind tasting bag, etc.) with only their name on it. Have them each introduce the wine before pouring to set the stage (without revealing anything about the wine’s name). The focus here is to understand their experience with the wine in that memorable moment. Guests then taste the wine and only after everyone has had a chance to comment does the person reveal the wine’s identity. You go around the room until everyone has shared. You’ll leave that evening not only with a more diverse palate, but a deeper connection to the other guests.
Virtual Wine Class
Since the pandemic hit, virtual wine tastings have exploded. Many wineries and wine retailers are hosting them (and they are often free). Wine.com has an extensive list of free virtual tastings and you can even order the wines being tasted in advance. You should also check out your favorite winery’s website since many wineries are hosting virtual happy hours. For example, Kathryn Hall of Hall Wines has been hosting some phenomenal happy hours with celebrities like, the cast of Schitt’s Creek, Julia Louis-Dryfus, or Molly Shannon. Hall Wine’s full list of virtual happy hours can be found here.
If you are looking to take a deeper dive into exploring the world of wine (virtually, of course), there are a number of great online courses available. You can find some of the top courses here from heavy weights like James Suckling. Or, if you’re looking to watch a critic rate wines, there is always the entertaining GaryVee “Wine Library TV” series, which can be found here. Happy hunting!
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