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How to Host a Wine Tasting at Home

Learning about wine can become both a costly and time consuming habit. You can read, study, and memorize all you want, but at the end of the day, there's no better way to learn about vino than to get your hands on as much wine as possible. So what exactly does that mean? That's right-- tasting, tasting, and more tasting.

While endless amounts of tasting does indeed sound like heaven, bearing the financial burden that a non-stop supply of bottles demands can become quite costly. Rather than calling it quits (or go broke in the process,) we've got a better solution-- host an at home wine tasting! With a couple of friends, a few bottles, and some basic supplies in between, you've got yourself a bona fide DIY tasting class. Follow the steps below for a seamless night of sip-induced studying.

Setting the Scene
There's nothing better than nerding out over wine with others who are just as passionate about the stuff as you are. Grab a few of your fellow wine-loving friends and set a theme, be it region, variety, or something even geekier (soil type, anyone?) Wrap the bottles in foil or brown paper so no part of the label is showing, and splash a two-ounce tasting pour into each person's glass.

Even better, have your friends bring their own personal glassware sets so that each person can have multiple tastes in front of them at once; comparing and contrasting wines is much easier with multiple options at your disposal. Best of all, having each person contribute a bottle to the theme not only spruces up the variety-- it saves the host (ahem, you) a significant sum of cash.

Whether you're formally seated around a table or low-key posted up in someone's living room, make sure that each participating taster has a notepad and pen in front of them. Writing down observations will not only help everyone articulate their thoughts better, it will also come in handy for remembering details at the end of the tasting. Getting into this habit regularly, even when out at a restaurant or sipping solo at home, will rapidly increase your tasting perceptions.

Palate Cleansers
Keeping palate cleansers on hand is always a good idea. Water bottles are generally a must (hydration is key!), though having a stash of bland, flavorless crackers available will help cleanse your palate in between wines. While wine and cheese are a match made in heaven, save the sultry pairings for after the actual tasting; despite their undoubtable deliciousness, cheese, chocolate, and all of our other favorite treats can significantly alter a wine's flavor profile.

Get Talking
After individually tasting through the flight in front of you, pull it back in and discuss the wines amongst each other, one at a time. Compare tasting notes, thoughts, and opinions on each bottle tasted; you'll be surprised at just how much discussion stems from tasting only a few bottles of wine! After everyone has said their piece, remove the foils from each bottle and have a grand reveal. Who knows-- the wine you chose just might be everyone's favorite!

And the best part of it all-- behind the whole learning thing, of course? Finishing up those bottles with your group of unofficially certified, 'connoisseur' friends! Break out the charcuterie, cheese board, and get the party started. After all, the point of wine is to enjoy it with the ones you love most. Plus, nothing tastes as good as a glass of post-study vino. So grab a glass, pour some of your favorite, and soak up every last sip of those newly identified bottles; go on, you deserve it.