Once you have your guest list in place, you'll have a better idea of what kind of wine to buy. If you're serving friends and family who prefer bargain best sellers, you'll likely plan your menu differently than if you're trying to impress your wine collecting coworkers.
To plan a cohesive tasting menu, some experts recommend choosing one varietal, such as sauvignon blanc, or region, such as South Africa, so that guests can compare and contrast similar wines.
After you know who is coming and what kind of wine you're serving, don't forget that all vino is not created equal. Once you know what kind of wine you'll be tasting, know how it should be served. Most white wine should always be chilled, but if it is served too cold, it can be difficult for guests to pick up on delicate flavor nuances. Serve white wine no colder than 45 degrees F and red wine no warmer than 60 degrees F.
Pairing food with wine can be tricky, but keep one mantra in mind as you cook up your menu: your wine and food should not overshadow each other.
According to Gwendolyn Osborn, wine director at Wine.com, the weight of the food should match the weight of the wine. If you are serving creamy cow's milk cheese, accompany it with a full-bodied red wine. If you prefer a more acidic cheese like goat cheese, pair it with a crisp white wine.
Sometimes wine tasting might seem more like an art or science than a game, but you want your guests to have fun at the same time. If your pals are winos, make it an educational tasting and have everyone answer a trivia question about each sample of wine before they sip.
In addition to wine and food, make sure that you have plenty of supplies on hand to make a memorable evening for your guests. Keep pitchers of water for hydration, along with an attractive "pour bucket" for guests who choose not to drink their full samples of wine. Don't forget that some people like to munch on bread or crackers for palate cleansing in between wine flights.
Most importantly, bring your sense of humor. Even if the wine is forgettable, guests will remember an evening filled with laughs.
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