5 Tips for Hosting An At-Home Wine Tasting

5 easy tips for hosting an at-home wine tasting party by Brianne Cohen, a WSET certified Sommelier, wine educator, judge, and writer based in Los Angeles.

Sip At-Home

Life as we know it has fundamentally changed, at least for the time being. Most Americans are under some form of SIP (shelter in place) order as we await further re-opening details. In the meantime, we’re all trying to carry on some semblance of normalcy as we work (and socialize!) from home! Below are my step –by-step instructions for hosting an at-home wine tasting for you and your friends.

at home i like this grape
p/c: Corinne Kutz @corinnekutz

When SIP first started, a basic Zoom happy hour with friends was all we needed. We were drinking a bit more than usual, bored, and hungry for connection to the outside world. After a couple months, we’ve realized that most of us won’t go back to true “business as usual” anytime soon. Some of us will be SIP-ing for many more weeks, whereas some of us might be able to have socially distanced get togethers soon. I have a solution for both options.

5 Tips For Your At-Home Wine Tasting

One piece of advice: keep it interactive! This is KEY! Zoom fatigue is real, even socially. After weeks of distance working and socializing, we need to still be able to engage and interact with one another. Here are my steps below for how to keep it interactive and fun.  

1- Virtual or In-Person?

Decide if the tasting will be virtual (e.g. Zoom or Google Hangout) or in-person and socially distanced, based on your local SIP standards. If you are lucky enough to be able to meet in person, decide on a location (a backyard is a good option). If in-person, make it BYO everything. Literally everything. People can bring their own lawn chairs, wine, wine glasses, plates/silverware, etc. This takes the pressure off the host and ensures that everyone feels safe to participate.

zoom call zoom wine tasting i like this grape
p/c: Chris Montgomery

2- Select a Theme

Perhaps the tasting will focus on female winemakers, a specific region (i.e. Rioja), a specific grape (i.e. Pinot Noir), or a specific style (i.e. All Things Bubbles). Everyone selects a bottle within the theme.

3- Bring a Dish

Whether you’re meeting in person or virtually, everyone should “contribute” one dish that pairs well with their wines. 

friends food wine i like this grape
p/c: Kelsey Chance @kchance8

4- Show & Tell 

This is the fun interactive portion! Each person shares the wine (and the dish) they brought. Have everyone do a bit of homework and share a couple fun facts about their wine. And lastly, have each person share what they are grateful for. This is important! Everyone is going through different struggles and emotions related to the virus. Spending a moment with your friends in gratitude is a great way to elevate the conversation and elevate everyone’s mood. 

5- Hire a Somm! 

As soon as the global pandemic hit, wine educators went virtual. A professional somm/wine educator helps with the wine selections, and will guide the tasting for the group. A somm can also lead the group in a fun wine quiz (e.g. using the Zoom polling feature), and can answer any wine questions you may have.  Most importantly, a good wine educator will meet your group where they are. It’s no fun to have a serious, stodgy somm if you and the group are more interested in what wine pairs with each character of Schitt’s Creek

Sommerlier Brianne Cohen
Brianne Cohen, certified sommelier & wine educator

Brianne Cohen is a WSET Diploma certified sommelier, wine educator, judge, and writer based in Los Angeles. She offers both private and public online wine tastings. Follow Brianne on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook or contact her at www.BrianneCohen.com to book a private at-home wine tasting.