What is a wine tasting … really?

By Dave Solzman,
Owner, Delius Restaurant

I am frequently asked by customers to put on a “wine tasting” for their private party here at the restaurant or sometimes when we cater at their homes. On face value, this sounds like a simple enough request and something that is right up my alley. In theory it is, but over the years I have learned to ask several very important questions.
1. Are the people attending interested in learning about wine or just drinking wine?
2. Are the people attending going to be happy tasting small amounts of a wide variety of wines instead of a glass of their favorite?
3. For a “wine tasting” you will need a knowledgeable person to pick the wine, serve the wine, describe the wine and answer questions from the guests about the wine. For an event that is just offering wine as one of the refreshments, all you need is a bartender.
4. Will the people attending be told in advance the exact nature of the event or will they discover when they arrive that a “wine tasting” is what they are expected to participate in?
One of the most important rules of entertaining is that the party should be all about your guests. No one wants to hang out in your living room all night, entertaining themselves, while you’re stuck in the kitchen cooking those dishes you found in Gourmet magazine that you thought would “blow them away.” Likewise, you don’t want to offend or embarrass any of your guests. Be sure a wine tasting theme is right for your guests. Is anyone pregnant? Does anyone have moral or religious objections to drinking alcohol? Did you invite Bubba who got in a fist fight at your last party because someone made a disparaging remark about his favorite light beer? I’m sure you can see my point.
“Wine tastings” are great and generally work well for small groups, just keep in mind; they are really all about the wine. If the guests either don’t know about it or are not actually interested in it, the event can easily become awkward or downright boring. If you make sure it is the right theme for the guests and the type of event you are having, everyone will have a great time. I love wine tastings and love hosting them. If you are serious about it, I say bring it on!

The Wine Press

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