Host A Summer Wine Tasting Party
We absolutely love wine tasting. You get to try wines from across the globe and learn about your palate, which is how you individually identify characteristics of a wine through sight, smell and taste — while also spending time with your partner, friends, family or all of the above. We consider wine tasting elevated day drinking and it’s fun to do at home. You can dress up all fancy, try different wine varietals, set up a delicious spread and enjoy the day. With incredible weather, sunny beach days, and ideal outdoor temperatures, summer is the perfect time to throw a wine tasting party!
You don’t have to be a wine expert to host a wine tasting party. To simplify the process, we have provided you with a guide to everything you need to have an exciting self-hosted wine tasting event. Pro tip: Invite those you enjoy drinking with the most!
Party Tips & Tricks
One of the key ingredients for a successful wine tasting party is preparation.
- Store white and rosé wines in an ice bucket or fridge to ensure each wine is served at its optimal recommended temperature. But don’t serve them too cold or the aromas and flavors will be muted.
- A classic clear wine glass is the best glass to use as a default, if every guest is given one glass each. Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson’s The One is designed to suit red, white, rosé, and bubbly - a must for our next wine tasting party!
- It’s important to always have snacks at a wine tasting table for the hungry guests, but also to help cleanse your palate between wines. While the guests are snacking, ask them to take note of which snacks pair well with which wines and compare after the tasting!
- For snacks, a cheese board is always a good idea. Have each guest bring their favorite cheese, charcuterie and fruit and build the ultimate cheese board.
- Other fun snacks to try: Caprese skewers, hummus plates, sliders, chicken wings, popcorn or other snacks are a great go-to — more recipes and ideas below!
- Embrace the seasonal colors and decorate the space with summer flowers and unscented candles to highlight the accents and set the mood.
- Welcome tip: When guests arrive, set the party mood by handing them a surprise glass of white wine when they walk into the party. Once all the guests have arrived, ask everyone to guess which wine they are drinking. A small gift goes to the winner!
The Wine List:
You'll want at least one white and one red for your event but ideally, it’s great to try to have two whites, two reds, a rosé and a sparkling wine in order to taste them all side by side.
- Our most highly recommended wine tasting set of wines is our McBride Sisters Collection Reserve Wines. This California Reserve Wine Set includes our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Reserves are single vineyard wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey County. This gift set is perfect for your smaller and more intimate wine tasting party. These wines are complex and express their terroir beautifully.
- For the larger wine tasting parties, look no further than our McBride Certified Tasting Pack. This 9 bottle pack of wines includes an array from our collections to give you the full line up. We recommend starting with the Sparkling Brut and ending on the Zinfandel.
- Plates and utensils to dig into the canapes!
- A discard bucket to use if someone chooses to not finish their wine.
- Water to rinse out the glass and keep everyone hydrated between glasses.
- Pen and paper for each guest to take notes on the wines being served.
Themed Party Ideas
It’s always fun to add a unique element to a wine tasting by creating a theme for the night! Try some of these different theme ideas to make your wine tasting one to remember:
- Cool California Classics: When all the leaves are green and the sky is golden, California dreamin’ becomes a beautiful reality. Make a playlist of Californian bands and arrange the tasting around Californian wines. Try our sophisticated California Reserve Wine Set (Chardonnay & Pinot Noir) and pair with Californian canapes, such as this California-style shrimp cocktail, which will complement our Chardonnay perfectly.
- A Summer’s Night in Tuscany: Transport your guests to the romantic hills of Tuscany, where beautiful architecture meets fresh produce and breathtaking scenery. Create an Italian playlist, an all Italian cheese plate complete with olives, and decorate the area with vines to really set the mood.
- Show & Storytelling: Ask each guest to share a story that corresponds with their favorite glass of the night, this could be a story the wine reminds them of, a drinking experience that they just can’t forget or maybe their dream destination to be enjoying the glass of wine. Alternatively, for a more educational experience, ask each guest to prepare 1-2 facts about the wines of the night and have each share their facts while sipping the corresponding wine, this would require telling them the wines in advance!
- Guess the Price: A variation of blind tasting, this game focuses around guests guessing the price of wines being served. Have everyone taste each wine and rank them in order of low to high, along with their reasons for choosing so. This fun game will work well with our California Reserve Wine Set, which is on the higher end, in comparison to our McBride Sisters Collection Black Girl Magic Trio, our most popular, but lower in price point than the Reserve Wines.
Wine & Food Pairings
Light whites with fruity or vanilla hints and floral rosés make the ideal summer drink, but we can’t forget about a vibrant and opulent Pinot Noir, or a cherry plum Red Blend. The perfect summer wine can be based on cooling you down in the hot climate, or it can come down to pairing with your favorite dishes - the choice is yours!
For this wine tasting party we’re exploring untraditional and elevated food pairings to match our prestigious California Reserve Wine Set and McBride Certified Tasting Pack. Open the tasting with some truffle popcorn, and save the rest of the food until after the tasting activities to ensure a clear palate. If guests get hungry in between tastings, you could also have a cheese board to snack on. Check out our cheese board guide here.
Pear, Pancetta and Pecan Puffs
Image and recipe via Taste of Home.
The perfect combination of savoury and sweet, these pear, pancetta and pecan puffs will be delightful with aromatic and refreshing McBride Sisters Collection Black Girl Magic Sparkling Brut with the perfect balance of lush fruit and delicate tart bubbles — available in the McBride Certified Tasting Pack here. Is your mouth watering yet?
Salmon Mousse Canapes
Image and recipe via Taste of Home
The contrasting textures and refreshing flavors of these salmon mousse canapes are only topped by the stunning presentation. Smoked fishes such as salmon are a match made in heaven with Pinot Noir. Get fancy with your snacks for your summer wine tasting and pair this dish with our McBride Sisters Collection Reserve Pinot Noir available in our California Reserve Wine Set, it's the pairing you may not expect but then you've eaten the whole plate and your glass of wine is gone! Thank us later.
Image and recipe via The Wicked Noodle
So simple, yet so impressive, Oysters Rockefeller will step up your wine-tasting party to the next level. This delicious dish pairs perfectly with our McBride Sisters Collection 2020 Marlborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc available in our McBride Certified Tasting Pack here.
Wine Tasting Key Vocabulary
Impress your guests with some of our wine tasting key vocabulary words below, it’s a great way to teach your wine loving guests more about the wine tasting process and give them the chance to become an expert as well!
- Palate: The sensory experience that you have individually while the wine is in your mouth. Understanding your palate is more than just the flavor of the wine in your mouth, it's the physical sensations (acid, sweetness, astringency, etc) of the wine after you take a sip.
- Aroma: The sensory experience of smelling and sniffing the wine, aroma also contributes to the flavors you taste when the wine is in your mouth. Aromas of a wine can also change the longer it is exposed to the air, oxygen so be sure to go back and smell the wine multiple times throughout the tasting.
- Terroir: The natural environment where a wine is produced and the grapes are grown. This includes the soil where the vines are planted, topography, climate and other factors that influence the composition and characteristics of the wine.
- 5 S’s of Wine Tasting: See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Savor — the 5 S's are the 5 steps to tasting wine in order to activate your senses and identify the different characteristics of the wine. The 5 S's are steps to understand the wine's characteristics.
- Single vineyard: A wine where all of the grapes that go into the winemaking process for a wine come from a single vineyard. This can be from different vineyard blocks or even all from the same vineyard block. Single vineyard wines are not blends from multiple vineyards and are considered representative of the terroir of where they are grown.
- Vintage: The year that's present on the wine label, this is the year the grapes were harvested from the vines to begin the winemaking process.
To optimize your wine-tasting experience and provide the most enjoyable event, consider these final tips.
- Keep in mind the order of tasting. Not an absolute must, but aim to follow the order of wines to taste, starting with sparkling then working your way from lighter to heavier.
- To take things to the professional level, share the 5 S’s of wine tasting with your guests prior to taking your first sip. See, swirl, sniff, sip, and savor.
But most importantly, enjoy yourself! Wine tastings can often be intimidating, but we’re here to break the rules. It's time to drink the wine however, whenever and wherever you want. Cheers!