Informal build your own small home tasting?

I’m organising a small informal wine tasting evening for me and three others. None of us know much about wine, and we’re more interested in the socialising than the technical side of things.

My thought was to buy a mixture of half bottles from TWS with different grapes/regions etc, then use the tasting notes.

I’ve looked at various kits available from elsewhere but they either seem overpriced, involve arranging a wine expert, or are cases of full bottles we’ll just half-finish.

Does anyone have suggestions to improve my plan? Am I missing out on a good tasting kit available from TWS or elsewhere? Any good ideas for selecting wines? Anything I haven’t thought of as someone very new to wine technicalities?

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https://www.thewinesociety.com/product/the-joy-of-wine-experience-home-tasting-kit

This might fit the bill!

But you will have some leftovers

Sounds a good way to start. There are tasting kits, but as you say they mostly involve either over-priced small samples or full bottles.

Unless you know very well the tastes of the others (and your own), you could start with a selection of half white/half red, possibly with a sherry or sparkling to start and/or a sweet to finish. Once you start to know what you want to try next you can start to be more picky with what you choose.

Ideally try to have as many glasses per person as wines of each colour so you can make comparisons. Expert tasters can remember; most of us can’t. Certainly at least 2 glasses/person. If you don’t have them already, a box or two of ISO tasting glasses is a good investment.

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Yeah, I’d really like to have lots of variety and not lots of open bottles. We’re not aiming to get drunk. :wine_glass::crazy_face:

That’s super helpful.

I’d not considered keeping glasses with wine in for comparison. Do I need to worry about palette cleansers of some kind?

There are a few interesting half bottles case. I did similar during one of the lockdowns on zoom with some friends where we all ordered the same set of halves and did a rhone tasting which worked better than just choosing things at random.

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Palette cleansers: water and rolls are a good start. Some hard cheeses (interesting to taste with and without). Don’t make too much work for yourself: juggling bread, cheese, various bottles, glasses… may be enough for one evening.

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How about some head-to-heads of the same grape in different styles or different locations? So a loire sauvignon blanc versus a New Zealand sauvignon blanc, and a Bordeaux cabernet-merlot versus the same mix from South Africa. Taste them ‘blind’ as wine A versus wine B, ask guests to guess which is which, and vote on the favourite before showing the results.

Take it as seriously as you like.

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This is always my favourite way of doing it. Often an eye opener how different the wine can be.

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There have been some very good suggestions for you already particuarly around choosing one grape variety and tasting examples of it from around the world.
Although you want to focus on the social side rather than the technical aspects my advice is: ask yourself what you ultimately want to achieve. I have run a tasting group for 10 years and work part time doing tastings at a local winery. My experience is that what people like is a fun evening and go home thinking “I have learned something today.” So with that thought in mind, in the longer term it will help you if you learn something about the technical aspects. It is those aspects that make wines taste the way they do. When you have chosen your wines if you do some quick internet searches about where they are made and how they are made you can then help your friends understand why the styles are different. You need only start with some basics. For example What is the climate like and are the wines made or aged in oak or stainless steel. Those two are just basic examples of factirs that have an important bearing on differing styles of wines.
By giving some focus to the techincal side you can soon start to bank up some knowlege enabling you to make more informed choices.
I wish you every success and many enjoyable evenings.

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Why don’t the three of you just meet up every month and each bring a bottle to a certain value and be prepared to speak briefly (having a done a bit of research etc) about the wine you are championing. you do not have to drink it all and can take the remainders home with you.
This is the best way to learn/enjoy wine at its best. Every now and then you will discover a blockbuster that will make you go out and buy a few bottles. Similarly, you will have some disasters, or wines that none of you really like.
Good luck and keep meeting up, it’s the best way to enjoy wine no matter what your inspiration for drinking it is.

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