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How to host a wine tasting at home

Thinking about hosting a wine tasting at home? Read our simple guide on how to taste wine and prepare for a wine tasting party!
wine tasting at home guide - featured image

You don’t need to be a wine expert to host a wine tasting – anyone can host a wine tasting at home – and it’s a great way to get together and enjoy a glass, especially from our range of top-dog wines made here in our very own Barossa Valley winery. Invite friends to come and discover more about wine, explore new wine styles, and appreciate the complex styles, character and taste of our vegan-friendly, sustainable wines.

What do you need for a wine tasting?

Wine (obviously): To experience an all-around wine tasting, offer a good range of wine styles for you and your guests to compare.

Include a bottle or two from our small batch of delicious wines.

Wine glasses: How else will you breathe in all those alluring aromas if they’re not swirling around in a traditional wine glass? Try to get enough wine glasses so you have one for each round of wine you will taste to avoid cross-contamination of wines.

Wine terminology list: Some of your guests may be beginners to wine tasting – lend them a hand by writing a handy glossary of common wine-associated words.

Read our bluffer’s guide to wine – how to sound like a wine expert.

Wine tasting notes: Give your guests a pen and notepad to record their wine-tasting experiences; this is great for detailing everything from the colour of the wine to the initial flavours, aromas and finish.

Food: It wouldn’t be as fun without having something to pair wines with. A word of caution, though – highly flavoured foods can dominate the taste of the wine (which defeats the whole point of wine tasting), so opt for lighter-flavoured snacks.

Cheese is a perfect pairing with wine. To help you pair the right cheese with the right wine, read our guide to creating the ultimate cheeseboard.

Water: Staying hydrated is essential, especially when trying all those delicious wines, so taking a few sips between tastings is a good idea as it also helps cleanse the palate between rounds of tastings.

Person pouring a glass of red wine

Pick a wine-tasting theme

We all love a themed evening, and your wine-tasting evening need not be any different – allow your creative juices to flow freely when choosing your wine-tasting theme.

Some possible ideas to consider:

  • Wine theme by country: Choose a country as your theme, such as Australia Day and try various Australian wines (we thought we’d load the game with a closer-to-home recommendation).

  • Old world wines vs new world wines: This theme is ideal for more seasoned wine enthusiasts as it can be enlightening and entertaining to compare the two styles of wine.

  • Blind tasting: This theme can bring mystery to the party. By blindfolding guests, they are tasting various wines objectively. Guests can guess each wine’s region, vintage and grape variety – or even if it’s just plain ol’ red or white for absolute beginners.

  • Regional wines only: Whether it’s Barossa Valley or Hunter Valley, pick a region and sample wines from that area only, then ask guests to observe the different notes, aromas and finishes of each wine.

  • Seasonal: If it’s the height of summer, choosing light-bodied and refreshing wines may be a good idea. In winter, opt for more appealing rich and full-bodied reds.

Discover our full range of small-batch, sustainable, vegan-friendly red wines.

Choose a wine selection

If this is your first wine tasting at home or if your guests are novice wine drinkers, you can keep things simple by narrowing down your tasting to single grape varieties, like:

You can then introduce grape blends that provide a more complex style of wine whilst balancing out the flavours of grapes.

We have a wonderful variety of amazingly varied blends that’ll be a knockout with your guests. Stuck for ideas? Why not include Moonlighters White, a blend of Chardonnay and Viognier with notes of nectarine and apricot or opt for classic red blends like The Red Sedan, blended from Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, offering tantalising red berries flavours.

Wine tasting at home - enjoying a glass of red wine

How to taste wine at home

Tasting wine at home may seem straightforward, but it is a bit more complex than most people think. One thing’s for sure – it doesn’t have to be a rigid operational, official process. Wine tasting can be fun – follow a few tips, but ultimately go your own route and enjoy the experience – no one’s keeping score!

  1. Hold the wine at the stem. This allows the wine to remain at the right temperature while cupping hands around the bowl can adjust the temperature and compromise the taste.

  2. Take a few moments to observe the wine’s colours, hold it up in natural light, and swirl the glass gently, noting the hues whirling around it.

  3. Now for the fun part; taste the wine. Take a generous sip (but not gulp) and allow the wine to linger on your tongue for a few seconds. Try to discern the acidity – does it taste sour? Does it taste sweet? Bring your attention to the texture – how does your mouth feel dry or smooth?

  4. Don’t forget to be mindful of the finish and note the aftertaste. What sensations linger in your mouth once you’ve swallowed the wine? Can you detect a creamy or astringent aftertaste? Do these sensations last for a short or long time?

  5. If you’re unsure, take another sip (or as many as you fancy) until you are satisfied with your observations. Before trying the next wine, cleanse your palate with water to remove the previous wine taste from your mouth.

What foods to serve at a wine tasting at home?

When serving food at a wine tasting at home, use neutral foods that cleanse your palate, such as crackers, fruit or bread. Serving finger food is a fail-safe option to ensure guests don’t go hungry and the wine flavours aren’t compromised.

Some foods that may work well are:

  • Cheese: Not only do cheeseboards look impressive, but they complement many different wines. Soft and creamy cheese like Brie and Camembert complement crisp white wines, whereas hard cheeses like cheddar are more suited to full-bodied red wines.

  • Appetisers: It’s always a good idea to serve rustic-style bread – the more diverse the textures and flavours, the better. Olives and nuts go well with bread and wine, and you can get adventurous by serving breaded mushrooms or bruschetta.  

  • Charcuterie: Another dependable food choice for wine tastings is cured meats, as the saltiness of the various slices of meat can pair nicely with the tastes of most wines. Prosciutto partners well with crisp whites. Chorizo pairs fantastically with full-bodied reds, while Salami is a reliable accompaniment to medium-bodied red wines.

  • Desserts: Dark chocolate desserts pair well with full-bodied reds, and fruit platters can harmonise with various styles of wine.