7 Tips for Hosting an Elegant Wine Tasting Party

(Contributed by Jessica Smith) The statement “Wine is the nectar of the Gods,” ‘has been repeated often over the years, and pop culture has praised the beverage for its quality and enjoyment factor many times. Wine is special because it can be enjoyed in a simple fashion to relax with friends and family over an informal meal or it can be used as the centerpiece of an elegant wine tasting party.

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Just like tea, coffee, beer, whiskey, and other special beverages, wine can have a ceremonial aspect that involves knowledge, special drinking glasses, and etiquette when served for more formal occasions. Therefore, this article is intended to provide some tips to help you host a very elegant wine tasting party.

Tip #1: Research the Wine in Advance

Take the time to research the wine in advance so that you can provide your guests with the proper information about the wine varietal, region, winemaking process, and story of the winery.  Also provide information about the vineyard that the grape was grown in, body, food pairing, and other classifications like vintage.

Offer different types of wines at your wine tasting party. It is not just about the red wines. Everyone has different tastes and preferences, and you should have options like white wine and sparkling wine as well.

Finally, it is always good etiquette to mix wines of high-quality as well as affordability. Offer wines on the basic elements of the wine rather than the price of the bottles. Your guests will appreciate the fact that you know about your wines and that it is not all about price.

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Tip #2: Uncorking the Bottle

Though in a casual wine situation you may serve with a screwcap or in a box or can, in an elegant wine tasting situation, there is a ceremony around uncorking the bottle. You cannot just take out the cork and pour it into the glass. There is a proper way to open the bottle. It should be quick and quiet, and you should not make an unnecessary noise while opening the bottle. There are some tools which you can use to make this process easier, such as a corkscrew or wine key, a foil cutter, and a napkin or glass polisher to hold the bottle.

Tip #3: Serving the Wine

 There is a proper procedure which you have to follow when you are serving the wine. This will enhance the overall experience of the event, and also ensure that your guests know that you know your wines well. You should first show the bottle to your guests with the label framed with your fingers, and announce the vineyard, grape, location, and vintage to your guests.

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Tip #4: The Right Glasses

 As with tea, coffee, beer, whiskey or other special beverages, it is quite important to provide the right glasses because they are an integral part of the tasting party. Wine glasses complement the type of wine that you are serving. For instance, you should serve red wines in a large glass with a bowl-shaped bottom. On the other hand, ensure that you serve the white wines in a smaller egg-shaped glass. For teetotalers at your party, consider serving juice, iced-tea, soda, or other non-alcoholic beverages. This can be served in a wine glass or a highball glass that is easy to hold. Needless to say, the glasses should be clean and spotless. It is helpful to polish the glasses with a clean cloth before your guests arrive.

Tip #5: Allow a Sip before Pouring

It is customary for the host to pour out a sip of the wine in a small glass before it is served to confirm the quality of the wine. This usually involves examining the cork to make sure it is not saturated with wine, then smelling and tasting the wine to make sure it is not corked nor has other unpleasant odors. Though it is rare to find a bad bottle of wine – less than 4% of the time – if this happens, remove the bottle from the table and replace it with another bottle of wine. After the party, you can return the bad bottle to the store from which you purchased it and request a refund.

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Tip #6: Pouring Etiquette

Pour the wine in a clockwise manner and ensure that you have served the women in the party before the men. Always pour from the right side of the guest and leave the glass half empty. This helps to ensure that the wine is not spilled while drinking. If you are pouring an older bottle of wine, you should also make sure that the last glass to be poured out of the bottle does not contain any sediment. If this happens, open another bottle of the same wine to serve the guest, or filter their glass of wine to remove any sediment. Another option is to decant the wine in advance into a glass decanter and leave any sediment behind in the bottle.

Tip # 7: Food & Wine Pairing

 There are different foods which you can offer at the party, depending on the wine that you are serving. For instance, if it is a white wine such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, or Sauvignon Blanc, lighter colored options such as grilled chicken, fish, or vegetables make great pairings. For red wines, such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Syrah, darker meats such as beef, lamb, or hearty pasta with red sauce always pave the way to elegance. Also don’t forget cheese, which you can easily pair with almost any wine. Sparkling wine is also a great compliment to food because the tiny bubbles cleanse your palate with each sip. Experts say that sparkling wine, such as Prosecco or Champagne, can be paired with any food except red meats.

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In the end, it is all about the ambiance of the party. You should pave the way for light conversation and ensure that all your guests have a great time.

jessicaAbout the Author: Jessica Smith has been writing for several years. She is a writer by day and reader by night. She loves reading, cooking, traveling, and dancing. As writing is her passion, she hopes to be a successful writer one day.

Photo Credit: Pexel.com

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Trend of Adding Ice to Champagne, Cremant, and Provence Rose Growing in France

On my recent trip to France, I discovered that the trend of adding ice to wine is spreading throughout the country. Introduced several years ago by Moët & Chandon, other Champagne and Cremant houses have followed suit, as well as some Provence Rose producers. However, interestingly, they have created separate blends and new products for their wines that are designed for ice additions.

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New Sparkling Wine from Cattin Winery in Alsace – -just add ICE!

The reason for this was all explained to me by Anais Cattin, during my recent visit to Cattin Winery in Alsace. Anais explained that because these wines are usually consumed in the summer with the ice melting in the wine, that the blend must be fruiter and sweeter. They have just released a new wine called Cattin Cremant d’Alsace ICE. Made from 100% Pinot Auxerrois, it is purposely made in a sweeter more fruity style, with 40 grams per liter sugar (4% RS). This sparkling wine is designed to be drunk with ice as an aperitif, and is targeted at younger wine drinkers in France and abroad. The packaging on the bottle is also unique, with the design created by a French street artist who specializes in painting large outdoor murals.

For more information on Cattin Winery, click on this link  https://winetravelstories2.com/2018/04/08/cattin-winery-in-alsace-creating-captivating-cremants-great-wine-tourism-experiences/

Many Advertisements for New Wines Designed for Ice

While in France I saw many advertisements for these new types of wine designed to add ice, and my French wine business students were raving about how good the new Rose Ice wine from Provence is on a hot summer day. Below is an advertisement for one of these “ice concept” wines on a street corner near a bus stop.

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Advertisement for new “wine with Ice” on street corner in France

 

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How I Fell in Love with Wine – A Great Role Model and Exceptional Customer Service at Gloria Ferrer Winery

(Contributed by Brenna Machek) – I fell in love with wine through two memorable experiences. The first time was with my parents, and the second time was when I landed my first big job in the wine industry.

My Dad – The Role Model

I remember every summer coming to Northern California for a vacation with my family. In exchange for some fun boating time with my brother, my parents would make us stop by a couple wineries so they could have their “fun adult time”. I would watch how my dad carefully eyed the wine in the glass, stuck his nose deep in the rim of it and closed his eyes to fully inhale the esters that came from the wine he was about to taste. He would then sip a little, swish it around and make the pitter patter sound with his mouth to embrace the tannins all surrounding his taste buds. I would pretend to copy my dad with a glass of sparkling apple cider and he would just laugh and say, “Soon enough little one”.

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Brenna Waiting Outside a Tasting Room Door

My First Job in the Wine Industry

Well, “Soon enough” came earlier in the year when I FINALLY turned 21! A couple months after that big celebration I attained an internship over the summer as a Wine Marketing Manager with Brown-Forman. During the internship, I was required to do two wine independent study days where I went on a private tour and tasting of two top competitors for our company.

Visiting Gloria Ferrer Winery in Sonoma Valley

The winery I chose was Gloria Ferrer. I was with a group of people for the main tour of the winery but then brought into a private room for my own tasting and pairing with the manager of the Tasting room. Gloria Ferrer is located in Sonoma County, California and is gorgeous to visit during the spring and summer time, which is when I visited. It has a beautiful view of the vineyards and of the Sonoma region. The tasting room is occupied by a bar area where customers can stand and taste, or indoor and outdoor seating, where waiters attend to you and can bring food or desserts to pair with your sparkling wines.

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Gloria Ferrer Winery.  Photo Courtesy of Gloria Ferrer

The Best Customer Service Ever – and Some Amazing Wines!

When I attended Gloria Ferrer, it was the best customer service I have experienced. The tasting room manager personally went over the sparkling wines and food pairing with me in a private room and patiently answered all my interview questions. I was given a complimentary tasting and even sent home with my favorite bottle for an extremely discounted price.

Gloria Ferrer is known for their sparkling wines, but they also carry still wines in their line of products. I was able to taste their Demi-Sec, Royal Cuvee and Blanc De Noirs alongside some food pairings such as a spicy salami, lemon sprinkled crackers, and sweet almonds with a cheese plate. I was lucky enough to taste a variety of their still wines such as the Estate Pinot Blanc, the Pinot Noir Rose, and the Jose S. Ferrer Selection Chardonnay. For being so popular in the sparkling wine category, they acquire some beautifully crafted still wines. My favorite overall was the Estate Pinot Blanc.

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Sparkling Wine at Gloria Ferrer Winery in Sonoma County, CA

Why a First Tasting Room Experience Can Be So Memorable

I have visited a wide range of wineries in the Napa and Sonoma regions of California, and have to select Gloria Ferrer as my favorite and most memorable experience, because it doesn’t compare to anything I’ve encountered before. The hospitality of the employees, the breath taking views, the wines, and the history made it the complete package. Gloria Ferrer made my experience one that was unforgettable and made that summer a top ten favorite moments in my year. I highly recommend it to friends and family and visitors in the area and can’t wait to go back soon.

 

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How I Fell in Love with Wine: Autumn Leaves and Finding Grape Buyers

Contributed by Victoria Herrera – In 1950 my great grandfather bought 75 acres of farmland outside of the town of Healdsburg in Sonoma, California in the Dry Creek Valley AVA. It was then passed down to my grandfather, who was an immigrant from Italy. Naturally he planted several acres of Zinfandel grapes that he would sell to make a little bit of cash, and also make wine for the family.

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Vineyard Leaves in Autumn

Growing up, I always enjoyed visiting my grandfather at his Healdsburg property. I enjoyed watching him take care of his chickens, vegetable garden, walnut trees, and grapes. He took great pride in everything he grew. One of the best parts for me was to climb to the top of the hill in the autumn time and look down across the vineyards. There was a full 180-degree view of the Dry Creek Valley, and the vine leaves were always beautiful shades of yellow, gold, brown, red, and green.

Recently my grandfather passed away, so my mother and her two sisters had to take over the work of the gardens and vineyards. However, we no longer had any one to sell the grapes to because the connections my grandfather had remained with him. We were left with beautiful grapes, but no idea what to do with them or to whom to sell them.

This is how I fell in love with the wine business. My mother and I reached out to people, and eventually we found someone to buy and harvest our grapes. Experiencing the whole process created a spark within me, and I knew I wanted to be involved in the wine industry. That is why I am studying wine business at Sonoma State University.

Though I am not old enough to drink wine yet, I will be in another year. Then I look forward to falling in love with wine in another way – through exploring taste and texture, pairing with food, and sharing with friends and family.

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Old Vine Zinfandel in Autumn

 

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How I Fell In Love with Wine in San Francisco

Contributed by Cecilia Bandalan – It was a cold winter day in San Francisco, and I had just turned twenty-one years old. I was also dating a French guy from Marseille here on a temporary visa working at a biotech company. Prior to dating him, I had very little experience with wine. After meeting him, we would drink wine at the end of our workday, but nothing he bought really lit a fire in me. He tried explaining the flavor notes; even paired some with cheese and charcuterie, but it still never excited me. Not until the day of my birthday.

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Tournedos Rossini. Photo Credit: CC by 2.0

He insisted that we eat at a French restaurant to get this one particular dish called Tournedos Rossini, which is a filet mignon pan- seared in butter, topped with a seared piece of foie gras, drizzled in a black truffle demi glace. Our waiter also suggested I get a Cote du Rhone to pair with this dish. Now, at the time I had no idea what foie gras was. When my French boyfriend told me that it was duck liver, I immediately pushed the dish away. He said, “Cecilia, trust me, foie gras is one of the greatest luxury foods in the world, have an open mind and just try one bite.” So I sliced a beautiful medium-rare piece of filet as well as a small slice of the duck liver, moved my fork full around the black truffle demi glace and took a bite. It was absolutely amazing. I chewed for a little bit, swallowed, then took a sip of the Cote du Rhone wine, and I kid you not, I lost track of time and very briefly forgot that I was on a date.

Not only was the dish amazing, but I remember starring at my wine glass wondering to myself, “Why is this red wine so damn delicious?!” I swirled it around to see if someone poured something in my drink because I could not believe how incredible this dining experience was. After swirling the wine around a little bit, I stuck my nose into the glass and took a big whiff, and from there it just all made sense. I understood the magic of pairing good food and even better wine. Ever since I was hooked on food and wine.

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Cote du Rhone Wine. Photo Credit: Agne27

I never stop looking for incredible wine and food pairings. I am also constantly trying to give myself “wow” moments where time stops. It truly is an exciting subject to study in college and it is a wonderful career to have. As a current tasting room associate, I feel overjoyed when I see that “wow’ factor on a customer’s face when they taste a first sip of the wine I am presenting to them. Overall, I am very passionate about wine and cannot see myself working in any other industry. Wine is magic!

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Ten Great Reasons to Love California’s Wineries and Vineyards

(Contributed by Gregg McPherson) Californian’s have much to be thankful for – great weather, fabulous beaches, soaring mountains, and a thriving economy. Many people focus on Silicon Valley and the amazing technology that is produced there when they think of what drives California’s growth. Not as many people realize how important the wine and grape growing industry is to the people of the state. These are mostly small to medium family businesses that provide quality jobs and a product that is loved across the US and around the world. California’s wines generate roughly $32 billion in retail sales. That is a staggering number.

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Beautiful California Vineyard on Sonoma Mountain

The good news is that California’s vineyards and wineries have grown steadily since the end of prohibition. This growth is accelerating as we reach the late 2010’s. Here are some of the key financial, agricultural and employment highlights of California’s wine industry. We hope these numbers give you a greater appreciation for just how important this industry is to the state and the country. Created by the California Winery Advisor, publisher of the popular Best Wine Club Guide.

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Which Top American Wine Was Preferred by Chinese Master Class?

(May 19, 2017) Last evening I taught a Master class in Shanghai, China entitled “Top Wines of America.” It was scheduled from 7 to 9pm at the Hyatt Regency, and all 34 seats in the class were filled with young Chinese wine professionals. Most were working in the industry as wine retailers, marketers, or educators. There were also a few importers and winemakers in the class.

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Master Class on Top American Wines in Shanghai China

The hosts of the Wine100 Competition organized the master class and arranged for the wines to be available for the event. They requested that I select 8 highly rated wine brands that were available in the Chinese market, and that could represent the major wine-producing states of California, Washington, Oregon and New York.

My translator was Melody, who had graduated from the WSET Diploma program, so she knew wine quite well. We began with a 30-minute overview of the history and statistics of American wine, and then spent some time describing the climate and soil of the four major wine regions we would be tasting (See Powerpoint below, which includes Chinese translation).

Wine100 Masterclass on American Wines by DRLizThachMW

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Line-Up of Top American Wines

Line-Up of Top 8 American Wines

We tasted through the following eight wines, and then I asked everyone to vote by a show of hand for their two favorites. Following are the results:

  1. Forge Dry Riesling 2015 New York Finger Lakes = 3
  2. Kistler Vine Hill Vineyard Chardonnay 2013, Russian River = 11
  3. Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 = 13
  4. Kosta Browne Pinot Noir 2014 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Vineyard = 11
  5. Turley Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 = 6
  6. Opus One 2012 = 10
  7. Harlan The Maiden 2000 = 8
  8. Cayuse Syrah 2010, Cailloux Vineyard = 6

The Winning Wine from Oregon

So Domaine Serene Pinot Noir from Oregon ended up edging out the others by a couple of points. Though this wasn’t a scientific poll in anyway, and cannot be generalized, it was interesting.  In addition, I had been told before arriving in China that younger Chinese are beginning to show a penchant for pinot noir, over the more tannic cabernet blends that their parents have preferred. So perhaps we are starting to see a shift in palate preferences….

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With Anita and Melody – my two brilliant translators

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