How to host a blind wine tasting

Feb 28, 2013 at 6:18 p.m. ET

Who doesn't love a party centered around wine? A blind wine tasting party is a fun way to taste wine without any preconceived notions. You might be surprised that a budget wine is your favorite pick!

Woman smelling wine

Have an array of wines of various costs? See which ones really taste the best! This is a fun way to taste and explore the many wines that are out there at different budget/price points.

The concept

Ask each guest to bring a bottle or a box of their favorite wine. Know ahead of time who will be bringing what and try to have at least two to three of the same varietal. This helps you compare when you select which brand is your favorite. It also helps to compare the various prices and regions. Do not assume that a $60 bottle of French wine is going to "test" the best. In fact, you just might be surprised at what your favorites turn out to be. You can easily host a blind wine tasting with your friends, even on a budget. Determine a maximum price point before the party, so that everyone sticks to the rules.

What you need to get startedwine glass

  • Wine glasses
  • Glass of water for each guest
  • Dump bucket (in the event that, gasp, your guest wants to spit out the wine)
  • Wine
  • Someone to pour and keep track of which wine has been poured/served
  • Blindfolds

What to serve

Decide if you will only be serving red or only white or a combination of both. Plan to have a glass of water for each guest and, at the very least, serve bread for guests to eat to help cleanse their palates. Also consider serving some light appetizers. Once your guests are all ready, have scorecards and pens for each guest.

Setting the wine stage

Ask each guest/taster to put on a blindfold. Because you have a variety of varietals, you do not want someone to assume that the most expensive wine being served will be the best testing wine. In fact, opening your world up to so many options is the whole reason for this party, in the first place! If blindfolds are not available (or are, for some reason, refused), do not allow your guests to see you pour the wine. Pour the wine in another room or have someone help you place ribbons or wine glass markers (charms) at the bottom of the glasses so you know which wine was poured into which glass. This will be especially important when you are tasting boxed wines, as you cannot cover boxed wines the same way you can cover labels on bottles with aluminum foil or paper bags.

Try these delicious wines on a budget >> 

Offer wines from various regions

You will want to serve wines of similar varietals and from the same regions, for fair comparison. Black Box Merlot would be easily compared to Bogle Merlot as these wines are from the same region in California. You might be surprised to find that the less-expensive Black Box stands up to Bogle. Throw your guests a curveball by adding a boxed wine to the mix and see what happens when they add up their scores.

Offer other wines from Chile, Argentina or Spain, like Root 1 Cabernet Sauvignon pitted against Concha y Toro Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon. You'll stump guests when it comes to choosing a favorite and the "wine snobs" will be shocked at the $12 price point for both wines.

Malbec, although it originated in southwest France, is the most popular varietal from Argentina. Malbec tastes of blackberry, blueberry and black raspberries. Compare Black Box Malbec to Cultivate The Gambler Malbec. The Black Box price point averages at a suggested retail price of $25 a box (the equivalent of four bottles) and the Cultivate The Gambler Malbec is $20 a bottle. Guests might choose the Black Box Malbec as their hands down favorite of the entire night.

Keep an open mind

The most important thing is to open your mind as you open your bottles and boxes and allow yourself to taste freely when it comes to blind wine tasting. You allow your senses to smell, taste and enjoy the wines with no knowledge. You are not "judging" the label or brand, you are judging the taste.

More tasting party ideas

Cheese tasting party
Beer tasting party
Wine tasting tips