How to Throw a Wine Tasting Soirée

We don’t throw a lot of parties. Intimate gatherings, no problem, but parties… they’re a lot of work. I like the planning process until like a day before when I inevitably panic and decide A) no one is going to show up or B) it’s going to end like that party when I was 18 where I was arrested for “internal possession of alcohol” (seriously, that happened).

A few weeks ago I got the idea to have a wine tasting for my graduate school class. “What better cohort-bonding is there?” I thought. I threw out the idea and there seemed to be some interest which is how this whole wine-tasting party came to be. The premise was simple (and based on my birthday party last year). Everyone brings a bottle (or food), we cover the labels and we write down our humble opinions and ratings of each bottle.

The tasting was slated to begin at 4:30 pm and by 5:00 no one had shown up. It was kind of my worst nightmare. I threw a party and nobody came. But then everybody came and we had an amazing time. It was super laid back and I have a sneaky suspicion that that was a welcome relief to those in the room who may not have taken my suggestion (from a previous blog post) and read “The Ultimate Wine Companion edited by Kevin Zraly (buy it here) from cover to cover.

Cohort 12 Wine Tasting

Tasting

Tasting

Tasting

In total, we had 13 bottles, 9 red and 4 white.

1. Altes Herencia 2011 Garnatxa Negra (Spain)

2. Acronym  2011 Red Wine Blend (Pinot Noir/Syrah)  (California, USA)

3. Charles Shaw 2011 Shiraz (California, USA)

4. Colpetrone 2007 Montefalco Sagrantino (Italy)

5. Bay Moon 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (California, USA)

6. Clos Du Bois 2010 North Coast Chardonnay (California, USA)

7. Dr. L Reisling (Germany) [Label was peeled off, not sure what year, best guess 2010]

8. Argento 2010 Malbec (Argentina)

9. House Wine Red 2010 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc) (Washington, USA)

10. Beaulieu Vineyard Coastal Estates 2010 Merlot (California, USA)

11. Acronym  2011 Red Wine Blend (Pinot Noir/Syrah)  (California, USA)

12. Arcangelo 2010 Negroamaro Salento (Italy)

13. Waterbrook 2010 Chardonnay (Washington, USA)

Bottles

The Stats:

1. Altes Herencia 2011 Garnatxa Negra (Spain) 4.8

2. Acronym  2011 Red Wine Blend (Pinot Noir/Syrah)  (California, USA) 6.6

3. Charles Shaw 2011 Shiraz (California, USA) 4.9

4. Colpetrone 2007 Montefalco Sagrantino (Italy) 6.2

5. Bay Moon 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (California, USA) 4

6. Clos Du Bois 2010 North Coast Chardonnay (California, USA) 5.4

7. Dr. L Reisling (Germany) [Label was peeled off, not sure what year, best guess 2010] 5.7

8. Argento 2010 Malbec (Argentina) 6.1

9. House Wine Red 2010 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc) (Washington, USA) 6.7

10. Beaulieu Vineyard Coastal Estates 2010 Merlot (California, USA) 6.1

11. Acronym  2011 Red Wine Blend (Pinot Noir/Syrah)  (California, USA) 7.4

12. Arcangelo 2010 Negroamaro Salento (Italy) no score

13. Waterbrook 2010 Chardonnay (Washington, USA) no score

Iku Tasting

The results are fascinating. The #2 and #11 wines were the same bottle (unbeknownst to those tasting) and both came out near the top, although #11 won by quite a bit. Not every person tasted every wine, so that could have something to do with it, but even people who scored both the #2 and the #11 were different. But, if you read the tasting notes carefully, people did detect similar tastes in both.

Coming  in second was #11, another blend. Fourth was number #4, which happened to be my personal favorite. A funny thing did happen when tasting. Someone else had number 4 and said he didn’t like it. Immediately I started to second guess my opinion. That’s the thing with wine tasting, it really is about subtleties and can be influenced by many factors.

The last two wines were not scored. This is completely my fault, as my sheet to fill out only went to 11. I meant for people to fill out 12 and 13 on the back, but I think at that point we were all more focused on having a good time.

Some fun tasting notes:

“Smells like Christmas. Initial note of cheap frosting…” -Chris (#11)

“Ruby colored, light smell -slightly smoky. Very fruity taste, sweet and a little dry.” -Lauren (#2)

“Smells slightly skunky. Crisp light. Not much flavor. Like a slightly bitter, watery grape juice. -Carrie (#3)

Tasting

Wine tasting

Conclusions:

This was so much fun. Having a party like this is a great way to try different wines, but also a good chance to discuss those wines.

The wine I chose was number 2, the Acronym Pinot Noir/Syrah. I chose it kind of accidentally. I was talking to my brother, who has become somewhat of a NY wine expert, and was hoping he could help me choose a really nice East-Coast wine. He asked me to take a picture of the NY wine section at the store I was at and then send it to him. Turns out, there was no one bottle of NY wine there. I had to ask the wine steward if he had any NY Pinot Noir. He said no. I said NY anything. He said. No. And then I told him I was doing a tasting and he said, “Do you want to get crazy?” I was like, “of course I do” and he suggested the bottle I bought. So imagine my surprise when I found out someone else brought the EXACT SAME BOTTLE. (As I mentioned before.) Crazy, right?

For future tastings, I would need to find a better way to keep white wines chilled. And by a better way, I mean any way at all.

All in all, though, this is a party everyone should throw at least once!

Wine Tasting

Tasting

tasting

5 Comments

Filed under Beginner's Guide, Today's Tastings

5 responses to “How to Throw a Wine Tasting Soirée

  1. So sad to miss this but looks like a blast! And I totally understand the fear of no one showing up: that has happened to me a lot. I find it so interesting that you had two of the same wines, and their scores were a bit off, but still the highest. Count me in for the next one!

  2. Bummed that I missed this. Sounds like a great time. And I am such a dummy when it comes to tasting, I really could have learned something!!!

  3. Looks like a great time was had by all…so sorry we weren’t able to come. Hope you’ll consider hosting another one in the future.

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