Bored by the standard wine tasting format? Here are some tips to jazz up your enjoyment of wine and provide your guests with a night to remember. These days, wine tasting is a fully fledged leisure activity, from touring wine regions around the world to attending masterclasses and dinners – and, of course, hosting tasting events at home.
In fact, home-based wine tasting has boomed in the Covid-19 era, so much so that they risk becoming formulaic. Here are some suggestions to give you some fresh ideas on how to keep your wine tastings interesting, covering technology, games and accessories.
There’s no shortage of wine on screen these days. Zoom-type webinars are now being offered by everyone from small local merchants to big-brand publications. It’s relatively straightforward to join these, especially when they send you packs of wine to taste along at home.
Virtual wine tastings has been a great solution during Covid-19. Tastings and webinars in a Zoom call got so popular that they risk becoming formulaic. It is quite easy to join these tastings and you can even get the wine delivered at your doorstep.
One of the most prolific of these services is 67 Pall Mall, the London-based wine club who have launched a dedicated streaming platform, which plans to offer wine sample kits for delivery worldwide. (Disclaimer: I am currently working for the Singapore branch of the company).
However, you can easily create your own on-screen presentation by visiting a few useful websites. Check out WeinLagen which overlays appellations and vineyards on a Google Earth backdrop, JancisRobinson for the online versions of the World Atlas of Wine and The Oxford Companion to Wine, and WineFolly with its archive of user-friendly infographics and videos. With a little online research, you can easily put together a homemade presentation to keep your guests entertained.
There are several ready-made solutions available as smartphone apps too. The Wine Game and Wine Acuity are both specifically designed for wine tasting parties. They offer an all-in-one solution that you and your guests can all play along with – the only thing to decide is which wines to buy, and the choice is unlimited.
There are a lot of websites you can use to create your own on-screen presentation for wine tastings parties, to keep your guests enteratined. You can also use smartphone apps like "The Wine Game" and Wine Acuity" that offer an all-in-one solution.
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If you prefer something offline, there are several wine-based board games that include a tasting element. Sommify was created by two sommeliers studying for their wine exams, who wanted to create a more entertaining way of blind tasting. The result is a multi-player game that allows everyone to learn about wine as they play. Barbuzzo’s From Vines to Wines has a similar theme, but with added general knowledge wine questions, while Wine Wars is a straightforward trivia card game that can test just how wine-savvy your guests really are.
"Sommify" is a wine tasting board game. Players guess the grape and country of the mystery wine using the incredibly simple Sommify method on The Sommify Wine Key. A fun game where you learn about wine as you play. Photo: Sommify
Another alternative way of running a wine tasting at home is to utilize the various gadgets and accessories that are available. One of the simplest ideas is to use decanters – anything will do, from a professional Riedel design to a simple glass jug – to see if your guests can tell the difference. Simply decant half a bottle in advance – using a Coravin to achieve this is even better – then serve two glasses of the same wine: one decanted, one freshly poured. Is there a difference – and if so, which do people prefer?
Taking this further, you could add in any of the aerators or ‘wine ageing keys’ that exist on the market. Plenty of these inventions make spurious scientific claims, but products such as the Vinturi are generally well regarded – and they are fun to experiment with.
A great way of running a wine tasting at home is to utilize the various gadgets and accessories that are available. Use technology, games and accessories designed for wine tastings for best experience.
Wine tasting should always be fun, but it can sometimes seem intimidating – or even worse, boring. Utilizing the technology, games and accessories that have been designed for wine tasting not only offers multiple ways of putting on an entertaining event, it also takes the pressure off the host – so all you need to do is brings a corkscrew.