The ultimate guide to hosting a blind wine tasting
While blind tastings might seem like the realm of the tried-and-tested expert, they're actually an awesome way to test your palate or a fresh way to have a bit of unorthodox fun.
Not sure where to start? Here’s our step-by-step guide to hosting (and participating in) the ultimate blind tasting. Get your taste buds ready!
Step 1: Choose a theme
Here’s where you get to let your imagination go wild! Go cheap versus expensive, focus on a particular country or region, build your tasting sesh around a holiday, tailor your wine selections to the season; make it fun and make it personal.
And once you’ve chosen your theme? It’s time to…
Step 2: Gather supplies
First up? Wine, obviously. You’ll need to take a few things into consideration here, budget and number of attendees chief amongst them. If you’re hosting a tasting with numbers that’ll make it difficult to serve appropriately sized pours with just one bottle, consider doubling up on every wine you need so you’ve got plenty to go around.
You’ll also want some sort of opaque material (brown paper bags or thick wrapping paper work well) to wrap around the bottles so your guests can’t tell what they’re drinking.
Make sure you’ve also got a Sharpie or a marker on hand so you can number the bottles (more on that in the next step), as well as a handful of pens and a stack of paper or notecards that your guests can use as their tasting journal.
We’d also recommend locating a bucket of some sort for people to spit or empty their glasses into and picking up some pour spouts to make serving as easy as possible.
Step 3: Wrap and number your bottles
Time to put those paper bags and Sharpies to use! Making sure the labels on your bottles are completely covered is key to a totally blind tasting, so you may need to double-wrap for good measure.
As you go, number your bottles and keep a list of which wine corresponds to which number. If you’ve got FOMO and want to be a part of the tasting yourself, ask some poor soul who’s not invited to your epic night to number the bottles for you.
Step 4: Pour
Depending on how fancy you’re feeling and the funds and resources you have at your disposal, you can assign each person a different glass for each wine or just use one glass per person and rinse with water after each round. Here’s where the spit bucket and pour spouts come in handy.
Step 5: Swirl, sniff, and sip.
After each pour, have your guests perform the wine-tasting trifecta: the swirl, the sniff, and the sip. Feel free to jot down some brief tasting notes, and then move on to #6.
Step 6: Guess away!
It’s your time to shine, mofo! Is it a cabernet sauvignon? A shiraz? Is it from California? Australia? Or maybe France?
Your guests should be able to use the theme of your tasting to inform their guesses — but you can also plan ahead and prepare little hints for each wine if you’d like to. Write these on little slips of paper and distribute them to each person, or just read them aloud as you’re tasting each vino.
Step 7: Reveal the bottles.
Starting with bottle #1, remove the wrapping and reveal the true nature of each wine. If you’ve been feeling extra in the days leading up to your tasting, you can even have a little prize ready for the ‘winner’!
We’d love to hear what you think about our blind tasting rundown, whether you’ve already hosted one or have a session on the calendar for the near future. Find out more and read our guide to wine etiquette here.