The holiday season is upon us and that means parties and get togethers. In the past few years, I have come to appreciate a get together that incorporates a thematic element. For example, our annual wine tasting has become a “not to be missed” event in our circle of friends. I have compiled some pictures and tips from our 3rd Annual Wine Party so you too can host the event of the season!
Where to begin:
When creating an invite, be sure to let your guests know what to expect in the way of activities, what to bring, getting home safely, and if necessary, what to wear. For this particular event, its important each guest know to bring a bottle (or two) of wine!
Now that the invites are out, here is what you will need in order to pull off the perfect wine “tasting”.
What you will need:
- brown paper bags
- clear plastic bags that will fit a bottle of wine
- blank gift tags
- wine glasses
- wine glass markers, wine charms or chalk
- a chalkboard, whiteboard or poster board
Make sure your wine glasses are clean — coffee filters will help you remove those streaks in no time. Seeing as it’s a wine tasting, try and use actual wine glasses and avoid the solo cup. We have slowly collected our glasses from thrift stores, wine tours, and garage sales. During the rest of the year, I store the extra glasses in a rubbermaid in our pantry.
Marking the glasses — the first time we hosted this party, I dipped the bottoms of all our wine glasses in chalkboard paint and placed them on wax paper to dry. Guests were then able to write their names in chalk, on the base of their glass. This year, courtesy of my mother-in-law, our friends were able to scroll their name on their glass with a wine glass marker! If you have enough wine charms, these would also be an excellent option.
Before your guests arrive, set up a place for them to vote for their favorite wines. I love using my big chalkboard for this, but you could also make use of a whiteboard or poster board. Put this in an accessible area so that your fellow winos don’t forget to cast their votes! Tip: we encourage our guests to vote for every wine they like. This keeps the tasting fun, involved and encourages other guests to try the wines that have multiple votes.
As each bottle of wine shows up, uncork it, place it in a paper bag, secure the top with a string and place a tag with a number on it. For any white wines, place a clear plastic bag over the paper one and fill your sink with ice to keep the wine chilled. This year I got into the holiday spirit and used an over-sized pumpkin filled with ice to store the whites.
Food. Each year I change up my approach to this aspect. The first year, we supplied all of the cheese, crackers, dips and spreads and I had certain guests bring their dessert specialties. Last year, I made a huge turkey dinner as our party coincided with Canadian Thanksgiving. This year, I asked every guest to bring an appetizer and I provided a popcorn bar and an appetizer of my own. Each year the food has been a hit and next year we are thinking we might take a stab at fondue!
At the end of the night, I opened the bags containing the wines with the most votes and sent out a message via the evite with a picture of the winning white and red wines.
This same red wine has won two years in a row. To quote my good friend Sam, “Oprah doesn’t lie.”
Most of all, remember that your guests came to spend time with you. Don’t stress over the details. Once the party gets rolling and the wine gets flowing, no one will remember the things you forgot!