How to Host Your Own Casual Wine Tasting At Home

Looking to impress guests or clients? Or you're simply arranging a fun event with friends? We've got top tips for hosting a wine tasting at home.

How to Host Your Own Casual Wine Tasting At Home

Looking for ideas for an interactive (and educational) get together with friends and family? Or perhaps you’re seeking out unique ways to impress guests or clients? We recommend hosting a casual wine tasting at home. It’s a fantastic way to try new and different varieties and broaden your wine knowledge.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we’d like to assure you that you do not need to be a wine expert to create an authentic wine tasting experience at home. The essential ingredients for success are a good selection of quality wines and an enthusiastic group of guests who share your love of wine.

In this article, we offer practical tips for how to plan and prep for your wine tasting at home, take you through different types of wine tasting experiences you can hold, and recommend a versatile lineup of Alvi’s Drift wines that can cater to all occasions, budgets and palates.

 

5 Steps to Prep For Your Home Wine Tasting

  1. Choose a theme for your evening and decide on the type of tasting experience you would like to host (see ideas below).
  2. Decide on who supplies the wine for your party. Are you providing the drinks, or will you ask guests to bring along a bottle or two?
  3. Set up your table with wine glasses, a pad of paper and a pen for making notes. Have jugs of water available as well as spittoons for guests who wish to use them.
  4. Limit the number of guests. To make for a more intimate and manageable tasting, you may want to keep invites to approximately 10 people.
  5. Select the wines for your tasting. This will largely depend on the type of tasting experience you choose to host. Alvi’s Drift offers a wide selection of award-winning wines at affordable prices – ideal for all occasions and palates.

Here’s a recommended lineup of Alvi’s Drift white wines to get you started, from easy drinking to ultra premium:


Signature Range Sauvignon Blanc
221 Range Chenin Blanc
Reserve Range CVC
Albertus Viljoen Range Chenin Blanc

Recommended Alvi’s Drift wines for your wine tasting at home.

 

Choose Your Type of Wine Tasting Experience

A simple tasting

Incorporate a selection of different wines, starting with lighter white or red wines and progressing to more full-bodied options. You can even add a selection of dessert wines to end off the evening.

 

Area-specific tasting

Choose a particular wine region and taste a selection of wines from the area. This type of tasting lends itself to exploring different terroirs and their effect on the final product.

 

An estate-specific tasting

Choose a selection of wines from one estate’s offerings or a particular varietal. For instance, Alvi’s Drift produces a range of Chenin Blancs - start your tasting with the entry-level Signature Chenin, and end with the premium Albertus Viljoen Chenin. This allows you to experience the same varietal from across different price points.

 

Vertical tasting

Taste several wines from the same estate or producer from different years; typically, they are produced under the same name or label but are from different vintages. This will allow your guests to appreciate the evolution of the wine over time and give them a better understanding of the effect that climate and growing conditions have on the wine.

 

Horizontal tasting

Compare wines from the same year and region/style. In this format, tasters look at differences between producers rather than comparing wines of different vintages from the same producer.

 

Blind tasting

A fun experience and a great way to improve your knowledge of wine flavours and aromas. Bottles must be wrapped ahead of time to hide the labels. You can run this in various ways – one is to taste wines from the same varietal, which is revealed beforehand, but you do not know what region the wine is from. You might taste Shiraz and have to discern where the wine is from. Alternatively, invite your guests to bring two bottles of wine from the same varietal - one cheaper and the other more expensive. This will either confirm or dispel the perception that the higher the price tag, the better the wine.

 

Food and wine pairing

You can create various food and wine pairings, from cheese and wine to dessert and wine. This type of tasting explores food’s impact on the flavour of wine and vice versa. If you provide the food, you can invite guests to bring a bottle to complement the dish or food type.

 

 

Take Your Wine Tasting at Home to the Next Level

Want to go one step further and enhance the overall experience? Here are a few tactics you can incorporate.

  • Invite a winemaker or wine expert to co-host your tasting. They can elaborate on the specifics of tasting wine and what to look out for.
  • Prepare your own short presentation on the history of South African wine. This will go down especially well if you’re entertaining foreign guests. All the info you need can be found in our blog: “The Storied History of South African Wine”.
  • Download an app to help you distinguish the flavours and aromas you are experiencing. Check out Tipple, which helps you taste wine like a pro.
  • Print out the tasting notes ahead of time if you know all the wines you will be tasting. Alvi’s Drift has detailed tasting notes to help enhance your experience.
  • Incorporate the 5 S’s of Wine Tasting:

    SEE: Observe the colour and intensity of the wine.
    SWIRL: This allows for aeration or, in simple terms, exposing the wine to oxygen and allowing it to “open up” so that you can properly experience the full range of aromas and flavours.
    SNIFF/SMELL: It is recommended to smell just after swirling, and don’t be afraid to get your entire nose in there! Note all the aromas you are experiencing.
    SIP: The moment you have been waiting for. Sucking in the air as you taste allows further aeration on the palate. As well as the flavours, observe the acidity, tannins, fruit level and the wine’s feel on your palate.
    SAVOUR: See if and how the wine lingers on your palate. Does it have a long or short finish, and most importantly, did you enjoy the wine?
  • While not absolutely necessary, varietal-specific glasses go a long way to create a memorable tasting experience.
  • A wine flavour wheel is a great visual tool to help you distinguish the different flavours in a wine.

Download the Alvi’s Drift Wine Flavour Wheel for your at-home tasting.

 

Start a Tasting Club

If your tasting is a success, you might get requests to turn it into a regular event. You could go so far as to form a “tasting club” with like-minded wine lovers. Give each member a chance to host an evening at home each month.

Rather want to join an existing club? The Alvi’s Drift Wine Club offers excellent member-only special offers.

 

Shop Online For Your Wine Tasting At Home

Shopping for your next wine tasting at home has never been easier. Read our handy guide to shopping for wine online.

Visit the Alvi’s Drift online shop and stock up on a fantastic selection of wines for your tasting event.

FIONA ROSSITER

Founder of www.inspiredlivingsa.co.za, Fiona loves sharing her wine knowledge with others. One of her favourite quotes, "Life is too short to drink bad wine" sums it up perfectly. Living in South Africa, she is fortunate to have access to one of the world's best wine regions.

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