How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

Pouring wine into wine glasses
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A wine tasting party is a creative way to gather friends and family together to learn about wine and experiment with new or unusual varietals. Whether you are merely pairing wines with specific cheeses or doing a vertical or horizontal tasting, you are sure to notice new nuances in both red wines and white wines as a result of the focused tasting. Read on for practical steps to help you host a tip-top tasting experience.

To begin your wine tasting party planning, you will need to decide what type of tasting you would like to host. There are many versions of wine tastings, from wine and cheese pairings to vertical, horizontal, price point and beyond.

Wine Tasting Party Ideas and Themes

The Vertical Wine Tasting Party

Old World vs. New World Wine Tasting

The Wine and Cheese Tasting

The Price Point Wine Tasting

The "Big Eight" Wine Tasting

  1. Determine your guest list and send invites at least two weeks before your tasting (you may consider utilizing free online invites through
  2. Design a tasting card that specifies the type of wine, the producing vineyard, the year and a brief description of the wine (usually found on the wine’s label). Make sure that each guest has their own tasting card to record the wine’s distinct appearance, aroma, flavor, and cheese pairing nuances.
  3. If you want to keep the tasting a bit more casual, simply supply guests with a pen and paper for them to jot down their own notes. Have them rate the wines—which wine did they like the best, least, etc.
  4. To make your event a bit more challenging, offer a “blind tasting” experience. In this case, you still provide your guests with their individual tasting cards. However, you pour each wine without identifying the label (cover bottles with foil or a brown bag and mark with a number prior to serving), allowing them to incorporate all of their senses to identify the respective wines based on the labels’ descriptions. The guest that is able to identify the most wines correctly wins a prized bottle of wine or perhaps a book on the art of wine tasting.
  5. Decorations for a wine tasting party can range from a white tablecloth and candles to Old World, Tuscan faux paintings and vintage bottles scattered throughout your “tasting room.” In either case, remember to keep the atmosphere light and engaging. You may consider starting the evening with a bit of wine trivia, just to get the conversation rolling.
  6. Still feel like you could use a bit more help in the planning and hosting of the Wine Tasting party? Then check out the SWILL Wine Tasting Party Kit - includes tasting guidelines, fun invites, a step-by-step guide, wine bags, glass markers and of course, a corkscrew.

What You Need

  • Four to Six Wines
  • Appetizers: you might consider offering some light munchies before the tasting
  • A loaf of bread: provide plain bread for guests to cleanse the palate between wines
  • Wine glasses: one per guest
  • Pitcher of water: for rinsing glasses and palates between wines
  • Dump bucket: for discarding wine before next pouring
  • Tasting cards: for describing and recording each wine tasted
  • Aluminum foil or brown bags: to cover wine bottles if you opt for a blind tasting
  • Pens and Paper
  • Humor: encourage your guests to share their thoughts and humor on each wine


  • Typically, when tasting wines, you will want to work from dry to sweet with white wines and progress from light to full-bodied with red wines. Also, it is ideal to start with younger wines and move to the more mature wines at the end. Have your guests sample each wine by itself, assessing the wine’s unique color, aroma, and flavors.
  • The general rule of thumb for determining how much wine to pour per person is 2 ounces of wine per glass, per wine for each tasting.
  • Providing plain bread and water between wines allows for guests to cleanse their palate and sets them up to fully experience the next wine.