Wine is a drink best served…shared. Okay, not so poetic, but true nonetheless. I know this from experience – while I thoroughly enjoy pouring myself a glass of wine while I make dinner or when I get home from work, I most appreciate drinking wine with my friends, family and coworkers (there’s nothing better than an impromptu tasting for the Coravin marketing team on a Friday after work). Wine is more than a drink or alcoholic beverage – it can act as a conversation piece, a community builder, a debate topic. There is no consumable more complex or interesting. Why not share that experience with others?

Whether you’re a beginner (like me) or a well-seasoned wine drinker, hosting a wine tasting in your own home is a great way to engage the people around you and get them interested in wine too (if they aren’t already). There are lots of different ways to go about this, and none of them have to be as formal as a professional tasting. Here are some tips to get you started:

1.) Choose a theme: As I said before, there are many ways to organize a wine tasting.

There needs to be some type of theme among the wines you choose to taste – a tasting of a California Cabernet, an Alsatian Riesling, a French Burgundy and an Italian Barolo, for example, wouldn’t be successful because there is no common “theme” or connection, and less to compare…aside from the fact that they’re all made from grapes. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • A varietal tasting: for example, try wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and France (Sancerre) for a New World-Old World comparison tasting.
  • By region: Do a comparison tasting of wines from Italy – compare and marvel at how one relatively geographically compact area can produce such drastically different wines, from a Sangiovese Super Tuscan to an aromatic Barbaresco to a bold Brunello. This can also be a fun theme if there’s an event to tie it into (is there a wine producer hosting an upcoming Olympics? No? Well then we’ll just have to commemorate Bastille Day with a vertical of Louis Jadot Montrachet).
  • Vertical: This might be a little tricky, and is probably for more advanced wine enthusiasts, but is highly education – and a lot of fun. See how many different vintages of the same wine (same label, same producer, different year) you can find and taste them together. You may be shocked to see just how drastically the weather, terroir and method affects the outcome of a wine until you taste them side by side.

2.) Make sure you have all of the appropriate materials:

  • Coravin System: Armed with your Coravin System, you’ll be able to host a tasting on a moment’s notice for as few as two people. You can save the remaining wine from each bottle to include in future tastings.
  • Glasses: (with stems) for each guest. Yes, you are going to have a lot of dishes…but that’s the price you pay for hosting a memorable get together for your friends and family.
  • Tasting grid: this is a sort of placemat for everyone to keep track of which wines you’re tasting and in which order. Each glass should be numbered, this will help correlate to tasting notes.
  • Food: definitely provide some bread or crackers along with water (still or sparkling) to cleanse between tastes. Depending on the wines, you might also consider picking up some charcuterie – they can help clear tannins between tastes.

As a young professional, most of my friends are beginners when it comes to wine, and hosting these tastings has been my way of engaging them with my new hobby. The best part about it is that because I use Coravin, I have been able to show them wines they would otherwise never try. If only a few of my friends and I were going to sit down for a tasting and only pour a third of six different bottles, there’s no way I would want to spend more than say $12 per bottle. However, if I can pour a third of a bottle and keep the rest to add to my (small, but growing!) collection…well then I’m much more open to spending more on higher quality wines. This benefits both my friends and myself – I consider it an investment; I just stocked up on six new bottles for the next month or two, and my friends just got a taste of “extraordinary,” and maybe a palate for Spanish reds. That’s a win-win in my book.