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Part 2: Wine Snobs Unite for a Wine-Not Wine Tasting Party & Review!
Our friends at Excelsior Wines sent us so much wine that we had no choice but to share it with our favorite winos and wine-hos at our first Cinfully Simple Wine-Not Wine Tasting Party! Double Portions (DP) and I set out to host the best wine tasting party and blind taste test this side of the Mississippi and by all accounts, we succeeded!
You DO NOT have a to be a food blogger to host one of these FUN and FABULOUS wine tasting parties! Grab some wines, invite some friends and let us help you Host a Wine-Not Wine Tasting Party of your Own!
What exactly goes into creating a Fabuloso Vino Fiesta? SOooo glad you asked…
From the invites to shopping for the right foods, plating and setting up our blind taste test, we found and created some great resources that I’d like to share with you! I’ve even created a shopping list and buying guide for you! I know, I’m so nice—More wine please!
The Coveted Invite
The invitation to our Wine-Not Wine Tasting Party was about as coveted as an invite to an Oscars after party! Okay maybe not THAT coveted, but we wanted people to think it was! And, since I needed help from my friends to review these awesome Excelsior Wine Choices—#RealWine4RealPeople—I had to make the invite appealing. Just because I work for food, booze and kitchen gadgets doesn’t mean everyone feels that way, so I started out with a very fun and forthright invitation from Punchbowl—My new favorite invite spot!
Hello my favorite wine snobs—ehr—I mean wine LOVERS!
One of my Cinfully Simple sponsors, Excelsior Wines, has been nice enough to send me more than a few NEW WINES to try out, and I couldn’t think of a better group of WINOS and Wine-Hos to help me taste test them!
So we’re putting together a gathering of some discerning palates to try out the wines, enjoy some cheese, grapes, chocolate and conversation about wine and world peace. I’m kidding about the world peace part of course, cuz who really cares about that when you have WINE?!
I should warn you now that these are not the $100 and up hoity-toity wines that y’all are used to. They are more like real people on planet earth wines at 20 bucks and below. HOWEVER, we have found a few to be quite palatable and getting your opinions really IS the entire point… If you’re the goal-oriented type, you’ll want to know that this Wine-Not Party is being designed so that I can use your feedback to write a “ group” review about these wines. In other words, you WILL work for wine!
Thank you in advance for helping to support your favorite charity—I mean food blog—I mean, Cinfully Simple.
Whether you spit or swallow is none of our business, we just want to see you there!
Disclosures & Fine Print: If you are a lush and need a ride home, may we suggest LYFT or UBER? If you use this link you’ll get $30 off your first LYFT ride, And if you prefer UBER, use this link to get $20 off.
Thank you & No WINE-ing please!
The most important part of hosting a Wine-Not Wine Tasting Party is, THE WINE! Our awesome wines were chosen for us by our friends at Excelsior Wines and our friend and liaison Jane from Creative Palate—LOVE HER! Though I’d recommend any of these wines, you can choose ANY wines you’d like.
In case you’re wondering, your wine choices do not have to be expensive! Ours were all under $20! Add a little variety by having both whites and reds and if you must, a rosé is ok too! Be sure to limit the number of wines to not more than 8 otherwise your guests might get confused, AND drunk!
Here’s a the list of the wines we tasted in the order we presented them for our blind taste test:
- Nik Weis Select 2014 Urban Riesling
- Decopas 2014 Sauvingnon Blanc
- Trivento 2013 Torrontes Reserve
- Trivento Amado Sur 2014 Chardonnay Pinto Grigio Blend
- Concha Y Toro/Casillero Del Diablo 2014 Reserva Chardonnay
- Decopas 2014 Malbec
- Concha Y Toro/Casillero Del Diablo 2013 Reserva Malbec
- Trivento 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
We had printed copies of each wine sheet, provided by our benefactors at Excelsior, available for perusal by our esteemed guests. You can print yours from the links above.
If you’d like to buy similar wines to the ones we tasted, check out the BUYING GUIDE at the end of this post! Cheers!
The process of figuring out what wine should come first in our lineup (listed above) was a tough one. The reds and whites were at each other’s necks vying for first but our real “odd man out” wine was the Riesling. It was the sweetheart of the dance. Sweeter and lighter than all of our other white wines do you place it first or last? Depends on if it’s dry? Is it dry? We’d never tried it so we didn’t know. Experts online did not agree so I made an executive decision and put it first, just because I’m tired of nice guys finishing last. 😉
After that, it was about color and depth–white wines are always first; Chardonnay was last on our whites list because of it’s fuller body. Reds come after whites, lighter to darker/fuller bodied. For example, pinot noir would go before malbec, cabernet sauvignon after malbec and so on. A blog post on Wine Tasting Order by First Pour Wine provided great insight!
Glassware – Wine Glasses
Almost as important as the wine for a Wine-Not Wine Tasting Party are the receptacles in which we drink the nectar of the Gods!
DP says Good wine glasses are essential for every wine tasting party, at least at our house! Our go to for great wine glasses is Riedel. I can’t say enough about our Riedel wine glasses and I love Riedel because of the quality but also because they have a HUGE variety of glasses to choose from in all different price ranges! If you’re on a budget and can’t afford to buy white and red glasses, our Riedel specialist recommends getting the Boudreaux/cabernet glasses that can be used with reds AND whites. We have the stemless O cabernet/merlot in a set of 4, and the stemmed Vinum bourdeaux/cabernet in set of 8. From stemless to stemmed, red and white, see our BUYING GUIDE at the end of the post for purchasing information and deals!
Sidenote: Riedel wasn’t the only player at the party, there was also a bit of plastic-ware. Spittoons being tough to find, we provided a Red Solo Cup (yes, this link does go to the song) and a bottle of water for each person. The solo cup was for the spitters, though I fail to understand why anyone would want to waste good wine! The bottle of water served two purposes; to drink and to rinse the glass, because no one likes adulterated wine!
Shopping List for Wine Pairing Foods
Rather than re-create the wheel I used my friends Google and Pinterest to find some wine pairing charts in order to help me with my shopping list for the wine tasting. I’m including the links to these great pairing charts from Wine Inquirer and Bungalow Chef. And because I’m a total infographic nerd, I’ve also got their images pinned on my Pinterest Board: “Pictures Worth 1000 Words”.
Then, using the charts and a shopping list I created, I wrote down the name of my wine (you can write the name of the wine you intend to buy) and then two or three things I wanted to pair with it. For example, one of my wines was a sauvignon blanc, I then looked at the charts and decided I wanted gouda, pine nuts and a lemon tartlette.
We also bought a couple of crazy “odd pairing” foods so that our guests could taste the difference between a good pairing and a bad one. One thing we found at our local Sprouts Farmers Market were non-GMO Cotton Candy Grapes! Another odd pairing item we used was my Legendary Salsa and chips, and one guest brought some amazing spicy shrimp! (Thank you, Tom!) All made for interesting “odd pairings” with many of our wines. In some cases, our guests simply tried the foods with reds that were supposed to go with whites and vice-versa in order to make their odd pairing assessments! And then we went overboard and bought a few other things we liked just for fun, like yogurt covered pretzels! YUM!
I even made you a shopping list to make things easy for you. You’re welcome!
CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION!
Plating the Pairings
Because we had so many wines, we had a lot of food pairings to go with them. And because we never do ANYTHING half-way, DP and I had a 12-foot island covered in food by the time our guests arrived!
Using the pairing charts I mentioned above we created small plates (one plate per every two people) with the pairings for each wine. This means each wine or two had it’s own pairing plate. We have plenty of plates in this food blogger’s house, but if you don’t, fancy paper or recyclable plastic plates will work just fine! We added our odd pairing items to the kitchen table adjacent to the island to keep them reachable, but not near the pairing plates. Our guests were quite frankly overwhelmed by our efforts! Many commenting on the fact that our wine tasting was the best wine tasting experience ever!
Because this was a blind taste test, DP thought it would be funny if we masked our wines in brown paper lunch bags! You know, the kind that makes you look like a real wino!
Secured with rubber bands, we were REAL CLASSY, like the Beverly Hillbillies version of a wine tasting!
Wine Tasting Terms, Scorecard & Tasting Guide
Again, Thank GOD for the Internet and all those Wino bloggers out there! We didn’t have to recreate the wheel to find the tools we needed to make our party a hit!
Because we knew that not all of our guests were the wine-hos that we are, we made sure we provided tools for everyone—the wineducated and unwineducated—to have a great time! It probably helps that DP and I have been facilitators for the last 20 years or so! This couldn’t JUST be a wine tasting or a blind taste test, this had to be a full-on WINE WORKSHOP where each person could walk away with some new nugget of info on wine! In fact, even being the self-professed wine-snobs that we are, it ended up being an education for us as well! We didn’t realize how much we had to learn about WINE and wine tasting! But, practice makes perfect, and we’ll forever be practicing.
Wine Tasting Blind Taste Test Scorecard
We started with the Wine Tasting Scorecard. We looked at several examples, but since I mentioned that our approach to this Wine-Not Wine Tasting Party was well, unique, we did create our own card and printed one for each taster. Knowing that every palate is different, our goal was to capture first impressions as well as what the wine was like when paired with the right things vs. the wrong things (odd pairings), the overall opinion of the wine, and for fun we asked our tasters to see if they could guess the type/varietal of wine. Here is the printable version below (two pages). You’re welcome! 🙂
CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION!
Wine Tasting Terms Cheatsheet
I am a woman of many words, clearly; but even at that I have a hard time describing wine. Maybe it’s because no one has ever asked me to describe the level of silky oakyness that exists in a butterballish chardonnay I’m drinking at the dinner table. So I figured if my guests were like me they probably could use a cheatsheet. After all isn’t “cheatsheet” just another word for resourceful? Plus, let’s face it, 8 bottles of wine and 10 drinking guests, picking words off a page may be a whole lot easier than thinking by bottle 5 or 6!
DP and I were wondering how best to introduce our wine tasting newbies to the ins and outs of tasting; whilst providing a refresher for our seasoned wino’s without losing our audience. Presto, this fabulous wine tasting guide by Meaghan Nolan provided the right amount of information to get everyone swirling and leg watching. This was almost TOO easy! You guessed it. Also on my Pinterest page!
For place settings, each tester had a spot at our big kitchen island and each place setting included the following:
- A wine glass
- A wine charm
- The aforementioned red solo cup
- A bottle of water
- An appetizer plate (ours were recycled clear plastic)
- Small pile of toothpicks (to use with cheese and fruit)
- A cocktail napkin (ours were funny because that’s how we roll)
- A wine tasting scorecard
- Wine tasting terms handout
- Wine tasting guide handout
- A pen
The Winegenda – Let’s get this party started!
We wanted this to be a really chill kind of event. A little wineducation, a little socialization and A LOT of drinkification—That’s a CCism cuz I had to make it rhyme.
As our guests arrived we let them mill around and enjoy each other’s company, before they bellied up to the bar. We took a few photos, pointed out our handouts and then asked everyone to pick a spot based on the wine charm they liked the best!
After that, Dr. DP did a quick overview of how to properly taste wine, based on our Wine Tasting Guide. Yes. She’s REALLY a doctor.
Let the drinkification begin!
We presented our wines one at a time, making suggested pairings based on what we had plated. We let our tasters taste, test and discuss and write comments about each wine according to our blind tasting scorecard; then for fun, we asked them to guess the type of wine they had tasted.
WE DID NOT REVEAL OUR WINES UNTIL ALL WERE SAMPLED!
Join our mailing list to find out what our tasters said about our wines in
Part 2: Wine Snobs Unite for a Wine-Not Wine Tasting Party & Review!
Wine-Not Wine Tasting Party Buying Guide
If you’d like to purchase similar wines to those we tasted, click on the links below:
Riedel Wine Glasses
Best for Wine Tasting! These are the one’s we have – buy 6 and get 2 free! 8 Glasses for the price of 6. Not a bad deal!
If it’s just the two of you, try this stemless set of two!
Or this stemmed set for two:
If you drink more white than red, may I recommend one or both of these…
Last But Not Least – The Corkscrew
Don’t know about you but I hate a bad corkscrew! When you’re opening this many bottles you’ll need a good one! Try this rechargeable model from Wine Enthusiast!