How to Host a Wine Party!
How To Host a Wine Party!
Wine tasting parties are a great way to host a unique event and are easily customizable to fit any occasion ranging from casual to formal. A birthday, anniversary, girls night or a simple get together are all perfect excuses for a DIY wine tasting…but really, who needs an excuse to drink wine!
Keep it Simple
A great bottle of wine is reason in itself to celebrate. Several bottles of wine are even better. With so many options available it can be tough to decide which wines to feature. To cover all of my bases I like to choose a solid foundation of popular varietals mixed with one or two unique picks. I look for one option in each of the main wine categories to maximize my selection as well as to try to please every palate…
SPARKLING: Select a cava or prosecco to check this category off of your list. Sparkling wines tend to be very palate cleansing which is perfect for a tasting party where lots of different flavors and styles will be sampled. (Divine Wines Picks: La Luca Prosecco $9.99, Bohigas Brut Cava $15.99)
SWEET WHITE: A Moscato is always a safe bet for a sweet white wine, however, Rieslings can range from dry to sweet. Be sure to double check that you’ve chosen a sweeter style Riesling before making your purchase. (Divine Wines Picks: Zonin Winemaker’s Collection Moscato $9.99, Urban Riesling $9.99)
DRY WHITE: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Albarino are all great options for dry whites. Personal preference always prevails when it comes time to decide which varietal to go with. (Divine Wines Picks: Bread & Butter Chardonnay $11.99, Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio $14.99, Burgans Albarino $15.99)
LIGHT RED: Pinot, Pinot, Pinot! Pinot Noir grapes are light by nature and also feature flavors of earth, mushroom, and red berries which work well for pairing with certain party foods. (Divine Wines Picks: The Pinot Project $12.99, Angeline California Pinot Noir $9.99)
MEDIUM RED: You can never go wrong with a classic Merlot, however, a Malbec or a Zinfandel would also make a great substitution for something medium bodied. (Divine Wines Picks: Graffito Malbec $15.99, Michael David 7 Deadly Zins $14.99, Grayson Cellars Merlot $10.99)
BOLD RED: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Petite Sirah are all bold, full bodied and great choices for a hearty red. (Divine Wines Picks: Josh Cabernet Sauvignon $13.99, Bogle Petite Sirah $10.99)
*Bonus Tip: Divine Wines offers 5% off of every 6 bottles of wine purchased and 10% off of every 12, including sale items!
Wine & Cheese
Ben & Jerry, Brad & Angelina, Jay-Z & Beyonce, Wine & Cheese. Add an extra element to your celebration by incorporating one of life’s greatest pairs. In my opinion there’s no wrong way to drink wine and eat cheese, however, understanding some basic pairing “rules” helps maximize flavor potential and adds a fun element to the tasting. Just like wine, cheeses tend to fall into a few basic categories and I’ve matched them together to simplify your party planning…
Pair a CREAMY cheese with a SPARKLING wine: The high content of salt and fat in rich, creamy cheeses are literally cleansed by the bubbles in sparkling wines, leaving a fresh palate for your next round of sampling. Try our St. Andre French Triple Crème ($15.49/lb.) matched with your Cava or Prosecco.
Pair a SOFT cheese with a DRY white wine: Fruity or earthy flavors in dry whites tend to be more muted which requires softer style cheeses for pairings. Dry whites also typically feature a decent amount of acidity so selecting a soft but still flavorful cheese is a perfect way to create balance. Try our Vella Dry Jack ($13.99/lb.) paired with a Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Albarino.
Pair a SALTY cheese with a SWEET white wine: Pairing opposite flavors together can sometimes work in your favor to achieve harmony. Salty with sweet is a well known combination and it works just as well with wine and cheese as it does chocolate and peanut butter. Drizzle our Three Village Cheese Co. Halloumi ($14.19/lb.) with olive oil, grill each side for 2-3 minutes and serve with a semi sweet Riesling for a match made in cheese heaven.
Pair a MILD cheese with a LIGHT red wine: Opposites don’t always attract so matching the texture of the cheese with the weight of the wine is a fool proof way to create a successful pairing. Try our Findlandia Mild Swiss ($9.49/lb.) with a light bodied red like a Pinot Noir.
Pair a HARD cheese with a MEDIUM red wine: As the body of the wine gets heavier it’s important to select cheeses with enough flavors to hold their own. Tannins help smooth out the bite to an aged cheese like our Stella Italian Asiago ($12.99/lb.). Pair with a Merlot, Malbec or Zinfandel.
Pair an AGED cheese with a BOLD red wine: The heartiest reds require some of the strongest cheeses in order for the flavors not to get lost under the wine. I love incorporating staple items like delicious cheddar but I also love to add a fresh twist by selecting something local or unique. Our Barber’s 1833 Vintage Cheddar ($14.29/lb.) with a bold Cabernet or Petite Syrah is a match made in cheese heaven.
*Bonus Tip: Our cheese department offers “Nibblers” which are smaller, almost sample sized pieces of a wide range of cheeses. They are a great way to offer variety and still stay budget friendly.
Add Something Sweet
As a self proclaimed chocoholic I find no reason why chocolate shouldn’t be involved with just about everything. I visit the Healthy Living bakery on the regular (and pretend I’m going to share my multiple brownie order with my boyfriend). Our flourless chocolate cake is nothing short of drool worthy and happens to be naturally gluten free. We make pastries, cupcakes and a wide variety of other desserts in house and they are always fresh and readily available. We also carry a variety of local and organic chocolates. In general, pairings work best by creating balance between the two items being paired. You want to avoid one flavor overpowering the other. White chocolate loves smooth, sweet wines like Moscato or Riesling. Pair Milk Chocolate with medium bodied reds like a Malbec or Merlot and Dark Chocolate’s BFF is a bold red like a Cabernet or Syrah. Keep it casual by offering a variety of tasty desserts or take it a step further by chopping up small pieces of different types of chocolate to pair with the appropriate wines and you’ll satisfy every sweet tooth on your invite list.
Set Up For Success
Craft paper is a great, inexpensive way to create a guest friendly and Pinterest worthy set up. After putting so much work into perfect pairings you’ll want to make sure they are properly enjoyed. Cover a medium sized table or counter space with kraft paper and secure the edges with tape. Set up the wines in order from lightest to heaviest: Sparkling > Dry White > Sweet White > Light Red > Medium Red > Bold Red. Place your cheese and/or chocolate near their recommended wine pairings. Use markers to label each item and draw arrows to direct your guests from the cheese or chocolate to the appropriate wine pairing. Don’t forget some small plates, cocktail napkins and toothpicks for easy sampling! Crackers are a must for palate cleansing in between each pairing. You can also scatter small bowls of bonus items like fresh olives (available at our olive bar!), sliced apples (available in our grocery department!) or a variety of nuts (available in our bulk department!) to add some snack bling to your perfect party set up.
Cheers and party on!
-Kelsey, Divine Wines
*Prices may reflect current sales or specials and are subject to change
*pictures from www.vinepair.com