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Tips & Tricks of the trade
If this fall 2022 you are planning a FUN
you want all your guests to remember your event with enthusiasm. "THAT WAS THE BEST NIGHT EVER!" 🤗
With over 900 wine tastings under our belt, at Vin and Wine we have a good idea of what doesn't work and what does for a successful wine tasting.
As expressed by more than 8,000 participants here (comments and testimonials) , the key to success is mastering these two elements:
Here are 5 simple steps to hosting an edutainment wine tasting to ensure you enlighten and delight your guests.
We could suggest standardized or more traditional wine tasting themes like:
and so on.
BUT if you want a theme which is
Here are our suggestions from our 40 years experience in organizing the most successful wine tasting parties.
To start with, make sure the following elements are included:
an element of surprise that will have them hooked till the end
unpretentious and playful (we learn more when we have fun doing it)
a lesson to learn, an interesting theme they will thank you for
well organized and easy to follow
with information applicable in all circumstances
And to ensure the presence and enthusiasm of your guests, to get them hooked, offer them a blind wine tasting. And it will be up to them to guess the theme.
Your guests will blind taste 4 to 10 different types of wines and they will have to find the correlation between your wines. Here are some examples:
The wines are all local or from the same vineyard (all from Quebec or Ontario for example)
Pairs of identical wines, but one has been carafed and the other has not
All terroir wines (with little or no chemicals) as opposed to technological wines
The same grape varietal, but interpreted differently by the winegrowers.
These themes will challenge your guests on
their prejudices on local wines
the importance of carafing
the difference between a terroir wine and a technological wine
their limitation of always buying the same grape varietal.
In their journey to seek out the correlation between the wines you have served blind, they will learn lots of practical wine tips.
How to serve wine in a restaurant or at home
When to carafe a wine?
When is a wine ready to drink?
What makes up the quality of a wine?
What is a good wine?
This formula, in addition to maintaining their interest until the end to find out the origin of your wine choices, they will receive answers to questions they have often asked themselves.
This is by far the most popular wine tasting type we offer: find-the-correlation-blind-wine-tasting.
Our success since 1981 is largely explained by the organization of blind tastings only. Not only is it perfect for avoiding preconceived ideas about the wines that will be presented, but it also allows you to develop interesting appreciations without letting yourself be influenced by other superfluous factors.
The idea of a great wine tasting is to bring together and not to separate amateurs from professionals. Ideally, you want all your guests on the same page, regardless of their level of knowledge, everyone having an equal chance to shine.
This is another reason why blind tastings are awesome.
Each wine will be an opportunity to learn and apply practical and fun methods of appreciation.
Types of observations...
Here are some suggestions for your guests to observe when they blind taste your wines:
From the 1st, 2ᵉ and 3ᵉ mouth
With and without food
The level of acidity, astringency (tannin), sugar.
Predominant character (acid, tannins, sugar, balance, etc.)
Length in the mouth (how many caudalies, seconds)
The intensity of flavor and color from 1 to 5
Difference in odor intensity between flat and oxygenated wine.
The quality of the wine from 1 to 10 ()
Your olfactory memory (a smell that this wine reminds you of).
Your taste memory (a flavor that this wine reminds you of).
This list is not exhaustive, but is a solid basis for all beginners and connoisseurs alike wishing to learn and appreciate wine, and express themselves with confidence.
These simplified methods of wine appreciation, combined with easy to understand explanations, allow for a much better assimilation of information and a rapid improvement in the habits of your guests.
In other words, these proven exercises will allow them to get the most out of the experience you offer them and the opportunity to immediately apply their learnings.
Printed in advance and given to your guests before the wine tasting, these sheets will allow you to note their degree of appreciation and observations.
The simplicity of your wine tasting is imperative in ensuring everyone's attention. A wine tasting sheet from 1 to 5 is ideal for judging their appreciations.
To note / evaluate their wine appreciations, we suggest these answers:
1 = Doesn't suit my palate
2 = My palate has not yet acquired this flavor
3 = I'm not sure - Neutral
4 = I like it
5 = For my favorite list
You will find that the formulation of the answers offers a better understanding of the phenomenon of individual responsibility, for our eating habits and of the education of our palate. The idea is not to judge the wine, but to ask the right questions; where is my palate in terms of this wine?
When we know that a wine is of quality and not faulty, we do not say “ this wine is not good ” we say, “ my palate is not yet ready for this wine ”.
To note the degree of intensity, it is recommended to grade from 1 to 5;
1 = Absent
2 = Light
3 = Medium
4 = Substantial
5 = Intense
As an example, the method of appreciating the first wine could be as follows:
This amount avoids wastage as well as drunkenness, presuming they will drink the wines rather than spit them out.
It is important to adopt good habits from the start of the wine tasting.
Make sure everyone has their wine tasting sheet.
Rate the first taste of this wine from 1 to 5.
Note the second mouth and a third to compare with the first 2.
Compare your notes with those of others.
The idea here is to make them realize that the first mouth is never the best one. However, most of your guests will usually judge their first sip of a wine instead of waiting for the subsequent ones when their palate is ready.
At the restaurant for example, when you are made to taste the wine before serving it. This is wrong! It is by smelling a wine you know if it's faulty, not by tasting it. Like when you find some suspicious food in your fridge. You will smell it first, not taste it. Wine is the same.
By asking your guests to note the first three mouths separately, they will see for themselves that it is the subsequent mouths that are the most interesting. It is only after we have satiated our basic taste buds (sugar, acidity, astringency) that we are ready to better appreciate the more complex flavors of wines.
If some of your guests haven't noticed any differences between their 3 sips, reassure them by explaining that we all have different sensitivities to taste perception. But as a general rule, 95% of our participants noted that mouths two and three are always much better than the first mouth.
First explain what they are.
Optionally, cut a lemon into quarters and give them a taste, for those who have forgotten, what acidity is.
This sensation can be replicated with the seed of a grape or, ideally, a full-bodied black tea.
A sweet lemonade will do just fine.
Make sure everyone understands what you are talking about. If your guests are comfortable with each other and have no hesitation in frankly expressing themselves, ask if these aspects are well understood. If in doubt, take the time to further explain.
Once understood, they need to note the degree, level of each important element of the wine from 1 to 5, 5 being most intense.
When we mention "type of wine" we tend to think about the 3 most known; red, white and rosé wine. But there's many more wine types than this. Let's consider the different intensity of acidity, astringency, bitterness, sweetness, tannin, etc. If we take different intensity of sweetness as an example, we have fortified and dessert wines, just to name 2.
As you can see it can get very complex to go into the intensity of each element which are the primary characteristics of all wine types. And we haven't even talked about sparkling wine and the different tastes they convey.
To keep it simple, and without enumerating all of them, here's a good example of what a wine tasting list should look like:
There are 11 main types of wine to choose from. The idea is to serve only one of each for your wine tasting. This will give you a good idea as to where your guests are at, in acquiring the taste for all of them, the education of their palate.
Which wines to choose for a wine tasting? Other elements to take into consideration.
Must be Terroir wine (no technological, chemically induced wines)
Originals and researched (no wines from the depanneur or corner store)
Easy to access in terms of palate, price and purchase
Prepared in advance: carafed and/or decanted and brought to the ideal temperature
Regardless of the chosen theme, they should all be terroir wines. No one wants to end up with unwanted side effects the day after. And it's not just to say that the wines you have served are of high quality, meaning the least chemically induced, but you want to be able to prove it.
Avoid offering popular wines unless you want to contrast them with a premium wine.
Take your guests out of their comfort zones with original wines that demonstrate you have taken the time to research the best wines for your wine tasting event.
Make sure your wines are accessible to everyone and reasonably price. Private import wines over $40 are rarely appreciated as a selection.
If your blind theme is “local wines”, make sure they are also sold at a local wine shop (SAQ / LCBO) or that the winemakers also deliver to where your guests live.
To allow your guests to better appreciate your wines, at the end of the wine tasting, give them the technical sheets for each wine served, either in printed form or digitalized with a QR code to scan.
You will find the technical sheet on the vineyard's website. If you can't find it, switch to another wine. I have rarely seen quality wines without its technical data sheet, with the exception of locally produced wines, which is too small a quantity to worry about.
Or even more eco-friendly, print one wine list with all the QR and / or barcodes. When your guests scan them, the wines will be added directly to their, previously downloaded to their mobile device. This is convenient for directly noting your appreciation by adding them to your favorites list, or knowing where to buy them.
Crescendo is the short answer. In other words, from the lightest to the strongest in taste. Same goes for your meal. We tend to serve a light side dish / starter at the beginning of the meal. It helps to preserve your taste buds for more intense flavouring, usually at the main course. It's the same for your wine choices.
You also want to serve a wine which is the same intensity as your food.
Similar to your food again, it's good practice to go from savoury to sweet in the middle of your meal. Here's an example of a wine tasting list:
Same principle as sweet and sour when one amplifies the intensity of the other by alternating.
PS. A 750ml bottle of wine serves 12 guests.
The majority of wines need contextualization, a balance to offer the best of themselves. It is therefore imperative to offer food during a wine tasting.
Fall is the best season to get amazing food from harvests. One of the best time of the year for wine pairing with fresh food.
Here are some food suggestions:
Mayonnaise based salads (pasta, potato, poultry, etc.)
Seafood, fish, shrimp, smoked salmon, etc.
Terrines, pâtés, rillettes, liver mousses, etc.
Breads and water
Avoid spicy foods and keep neutral flavours. You have to make sure that the intensity of the flavours are equal to that of your wine.
Choose your dishes according to the food/wine pairings. You must therefore have tasted your wines beforehand to consider their intensity of flavour and level of acidity in order to be as accurate as possible for the pairing.
Each wine should have at least 3 to 4 different food to accompany them. This will allow you to compare what works and what doesn't for the majority of your guests' palates.
Placing all dishes in the center of the table from the start will allow you to come back to them later to try again with other wines. For example, “ Does smoked salmon, that benefited from the acidity and minerality of white wine #2, work as well with the fruity and astringent red wine #5? ”
Wine and cheese tastings are nice if you have mainly semi-sweet, sweet or extra-sweet wines to offer. Dry wines don't have enough smoothness and unctuosity to make cheeses more digestible and palatable. Having cheese in your selection is therefore an excellent way to demonstrate this phenomenon, especially if you have an astringent wine compared to a soft, unctuous wine.
As the organizer, you must animate the evening. If you spend your time in the kitchen preparing the dishes, it's an unpleasant wait for your guests. If you insist on the full meal formula, consider hiring the services of a chef for the evening.
The formula we recommend is to go to the market, get the food, unpack and place it on trays in the center of the table. It's easy and casual. Which also proves that we don't need slave for hours over food to enjoy a great evening with an excellent bottle of wine.
Your guests leave with lots of ideas that you have brought to life for them. Perhaps a first which, we hope, will become a habit.
Alternatively, hosting your wine tasting evening at a Bring-your-own-wine restaurant is also a great idea. Make sure your wines also match the menu. Keep in mind that a Friday or Saturday evening is probably not the best time for a quiet evening at a restaurant.
In short, every reason is good reason to plan a wine tasting. And why not, we all have to eat at some point and what's more sociable than to serve wines with your meal. It's up to you to make it interesting.
At home, when I serve a wine to a guest, I never tell them what they are drinking. Right there, it's a Blind Wine Tasting. And all I ask is for them to tell me is where their palate is in regard to the taste of the particular wine. I'll ask them to rate it between 1 and 5. See? Already I'm half way through a wine tasting and all I needed was a bit of information like you are reading right now, on this page.
Here's more details:
There are the essentials, like
And there are the moments that we offer ourselves,
Saturdays represent 80% of our wine tastings. So there is a good chance that this is the day that is most appropriate for your guests, but a day to avoid if you opt for the restaurant option. For that option, Sundays are more pleasant.
Fall, Winter and summer, through the start of the school year in September and the return of spring, all seasons are ideal for wine tasting. Above all, it depends on the availability of your guests.
Send invitations early enough so that people have time to respond and plan accordingly.
Tip: “ People are busy, they don't always have time to answer your emails. By sending them a single invitation by email with 2 or 3 choices of dates and details, everything is settled with a single sending. ”
There are also sites as well as Facebook which allows you to vote on the date best suited to your group. They will thus have at all times an update of the best date and the possibility of asking questions.
In Quebec for 11 years, since 2011, Vin and Wine has organized more than 900 wine tasting events, including hundreds of at your home wine tasting parties, with great success, as expressed here by our patrons >> .
An experience that allows us to refine your wine tasting party to perfection.
The wine tasting kit is very simple and should reflect the accessories we use every day.
1 for dry wines and the other for sweet wines
1 pen/pencil each
1 wine tasting sheet
1 wine corkscrew opener
1 kit to hide the wine bottles
Ideally, there are blind wine tasting kits numbered 1-10 like this >> . Alternatively, you can use old socks or wrap them in paper bags or gift wrap.
As for the carafe and/or decanter, we trust that you have prepared your wines in advance. So you won't need to do it on that day.
For the spittoon, in north America, it is rarely used, but sometimes for those who do not swallow their wines, such as pregnant women or others and who would still like to participate.
You will also need table accessories for the food; plates, utensil, glass of water, etc.
For more information or help in achieving the best wine tasting party possible, contact us at 514-463-1140 or click here ⬇︎
What better than a wine tasting to bring everyone together.
"It was so awesome. I had a great evening. Dany was really well organized and super informative. He has a great 'experiential' approach to learning about wine and all that goes with it. Sharing, great food, Fantastic company in a warm and welcoming atmosphere."
OVER 900 WINE TASTINGS / EVENTS
You are in good hands.
"What an exceptional evening! Dany is a sommelier who is passionate not only about wines but about everything that revolves around this divine beverage. It's an experience to live and relive! I highly recommend it. Thanks to Dany for having shared some of your knowledge with us. This evening made me want to learn more not only about wines, but also about food and wine pairings!"
"I have had the pleasure of attending many events and dinners in my time, but never one like the one we experienced with you. Your knowledge and passion is second to none and that is what really made the difference ."
These information could enlight someone's day! 🤗
A short 21 second video to show you how it's done. 🤗
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