A Thoughtfull Guide to Hosting a Wine Tasting

sommelier pouring wine from a bottle into a glass on an outdoor patio
How to craft a tailored, intimate tasting for the wine enthusiast in your life

The appeals of a wine tour are endless, a (mostly) classy day strolling through the vineyards, tasting the latest blends of your favourite vino, and soaking it all in with your favourite person. On the other hand, that lovely picture also comes with a price, travel time, and plenty of logistics. But there’s no reason to sacrifice quality time enjoying some top-quality vino with your best friend just because you don’t have access to a vineyard in your backyard (which is, of course, the ultimate goal). No matter where you are in the world, take that time to reconnect, indulge in conversation, and host your own wine tasting.


Choose your theme

One of the best parts about wine tastings is being able to compare, and find the best wines from around the world. Choosing a theme will set the tone for the tasting, allow you to create an atmosphere, and give you a starting point to choose which wines you want to feature.


  • Pick wines from one region - you can stay local, or pick from famous regions that you’ve always wanted to visit like Napa Valley, Bordeaux, La Rioja, Tuscany and more.
  • Stick to one grape - choose your favourite variety of wine, and get bottles of that kind from around the world. For example, get a Sauvignon blanc from Bordeaux, Loire Valley, Napa, and New Zealand to compare.
  • Pick a year - perfect for celebrating an anniversary, pick a year of significance and get a couple bottles of wine from that year (you can also do this with one grape, so just getting a Merlot from 2001).
  • Comparison wines - cheap vs. expensive blind tasting. 

Take cues from experts The Grape Witches or Wine Folly on how to create an unstuffy, memorable experience.


Send out invites

Use the Thoughtfull Gift of Time certificate to set it in stone—without the accountability of an invitation, it’s easy to brush ‘handshake deal’ plans aside if something else comes up. Include the obvious details like the day, time, theme, and location; if you’re requesting your guests bring a favourite bottle, add a one-line brief (so everyone brings an on-theme blend), a dress code, and a food pairing to bring (if you want to turn it into a potluck style event).


Set the scene

You’re not going to grow a vineyard in an afternoon, but you can add some small touches to take your night up a level.


  • Use string lights and candles (unscented so it doesn’t affect the wine tasting) for a romantic, intimate mood. 
  • If you’re featuring one specific region, play music that reminds you of that area. 
  • Put up photos from a region you visited before, or get inspiration for your next trip and print out place cards photos from a few wanderlust-worthy renowned wineries. 

Set the table

  • Make sure you have enough wine glasses for the tasting so you don’t have to keep rinsing them out—even a small drop of water can dilute the taste of the wine.
  • Place a glass of water and some bland, crispy crackers in the middle of the table for in between tasting, as eating foods with a lot of flavour/fats can impact the wine’s overall taste. 
  • Have each person write out a quick description of the wine they bring, print out enough copies for every person at the tasting on stock paper. If you don’t want to write it, most wineries have product descriptions on their websites with all the information you’ll need. 
  • ...Or make it a mystery and do a blind tasting. You can collect the wines as guests come in and either wrap them in tinfoil or place them in a paper bag, label each wine with a letter, and vote for your favourite. 

Insider tip

If you have a variety or wine, make sure to start with the sparkling, then move from lighter whites to bold reds. Another rule of thumb to follow, dry to sweet and young before old.

Whether you’re a sommelier or just think that difference between red and white is the colour, your friends will appreciate the effort you put into creating a magical night.

Having all these small details worked out before can help you focus on the most important part of the event, spending quality time with the people you love. Salut! 

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