Holiday Cheers: Hosting a Wine Tasting Party
By Kylene Keith
The holidays are upon us, which means it's time to polish the silver,
break out the fine china, and get ready to entertain. Or maybe you'd
rather open the package of plastic silverware and stack up the paper
plates? Whichever sounds more your style, there's nothing like a few
bottles of wine to enhance the holiday festivities. You may be hesitant
to throw a wine tasting party imagining that you must be a wine connoisseur
with a cellar full of vintage Bordeaux to host a proper event. We beg
to differ; anyone can have an enjoyable, enlightening and stress-free
wine tasting party. We've provided a few tips to send you in the right
direction. You certainly don't have to follow all of these guidelines
to have a successful party, but taking these ideas into consideration
will guarantee a wine tasting celebration that will both entertain and
- Variety is not only the spice of life, but also the key to a great
wine tasting party. Serving a diverse selection of wines from several
different wine regions is a good way to please all of your guests
while also allowing people to compare and contrast different wine
styles. Take this opportunity to introduce your guests to wines made
from obscure grape varieties or produced in up and coming wine regions.
It's a fairly safe bet that your guests have tasted a Cabernet Sauvignon
from Napa Valley, but have they ever tried an Aglianico from Sicily?
Not only will you broaden the wine horizons of your guests, you'll
likely save money by seeking out lesser-known wines.
- Take a moment to learn about the wines that you're serving. Use
the Internet, the wine merchant who sold you the wine, or the back
label as a resource. It may seem like a lot of homework, but your
guests will appreciate even the smallest tidbits of information about
a wine they find enjoyable.
- Think about what foods or cheeses will complement each wine. Again,
variety is the golden rule. Offer a wide range of appetizers to allow
each wine to shine. We've included some suggestions to get the ball
Ewald's Ceviche with Wonton Chips
This dish screams for a light-bodied white wine with good acidity. A
Sauvignon Blanc is the natural choice. Look to Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume,
New Zealand, South Africa, and California for good examples of this
varietal. You could also try a bright and lively Albarino from Spain,
a complex and racy Riesling from Germany, or a clean and crisp Pinot
Grigio from Italy.
Flay's Grilled Mushrooms with Hazelnut Gremolata
The earthy elements in this appetizer would benefit from a rustic red
wine. A Ribera del Duero and a Rioja from Spain both typically display
red fruit flavors with an underlying earthiness and balanced oak. A
red wine from the Rhone Valley in France or a Pinot Noir from Burgundy
or Oregon will also bring out the earthy flavors of the mushrooms and
Donna's Tempura Fried Zucchini Flower with Ricotta and Pecorino Cheese
and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
Try this Italian inspired dish with a white Arneis from Piedmont,
Italy. This white wine has intense aromatics and characteristic flavors
of apples, pears and a hint of licorice. A Prosecco is also a great
choice for this recipe. This Italian sparkling wine will act as a good
foil against the fried zucchini. A light-bodied red wine such as a Barbera
or a Dolcetto with juicy fruit flavors and soft tannins will also match
the flavors in this dish.
Cheese can enhance the qualities of almost any wine. It is an especially
nice accompaniment for big, bold wines with firm tannins and explosive
fruit flavors such as California Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, Australian
Shiraz, or French Bordeaux.