A wine tasting party appeals to wine experts and novices alike and makes a nice change from the usual dinner or cocktail party. Any number of guests will work, depending on the host’s space; but having at least 12 makes it more interesting and having more than 24 gets very complicated.
Send out invitations a month in advance, and ask guests not to wear fragrance to the party so that everyone will be able to smell the wines (an important aspect of tasting).
You will need one glass per person, rinsing the glasses between wines. A separate glass for each wine is ideal, but 12 people tasting six wines would need 72 glasses. Have a pitcher of water and an empty bowl or ice bucket on the table so that guests can sip water and rinse their glasses between wines.
For a tasting, a 2-ounce serving of each wine is sufficient. One bottle holds 12 servings. If you are having 12 people, you will need one bottle of each wine. If you are going to taste six wines, you could ask each couple, or “pair” of guests, to bring one bottle. Or you could supply all the wine. Bag, or otherwise cover, and number each wine. Such a “blind” tasting ensures that guests won’t be influenced by the labels.
Have a theme for your wine selections; for example, Napa Valley reds, Italian whites, one varietal from several regions, one varietal from a single year from different regions, different varietals from a single region.
An assortment of breads, crackers, cheeses, and fruits can be offered. If you plan to serve something more substantial, do so after the tasting.
A wine tasting can be as simple or as technical as you like. Try to suit the level of interest of your group. Provide guests with pencils and tasting sheets listing the wines so that they can write down their impressions as they see, smell, and taste each wine, perhaps ranking them in order of preference. When everyone is through tasting a wine and making notes, have a discussion.