3rd Annual Blind Wine Tasting Party 2018

Every time I post about our annual blind wine tasting party, the questions are endless!
  • How does it work?
  • Do you supply the wine?
  • What kind of cheeses do you get?
  • Do you rinse cups between tastings?
  • How much should each bottle cost?
  • Etc., etc., etc.
Quick rundown: I invite between 12-20 people. Each couple is asked to bring one bottle of wine (not per person, just per couple), of their choice. It can be a white, red, rose, something that they love, something they've never had, something cheap, something fancy. We ask that whites and roses are brought cold, and reds at room temperature. We all do a tasting from each bottle, and rate them using score cards. After a winning bottle (accumulated by most points) is chosen, prizes are given out by the hostess. All of this takes place around an endless array of cheeses, crackers, meats, fruit, nuts, and more.

I am going to share as many details as possible. This year we kept the party a bit more intimate by having less people (less bottles to rate), and it turned out to be a BIG hit! Let me start with decor. I decided to move our usual summer gathering to autumn, which we found to be a lot more cozy and beautiful. I put out all my autumn decor (pumpkins, candles, red/orange/yellow tablecloths and little  home stuff) which really set the mood. The weather was crisp, which allowed us to use our warm heater on the deck, under the cafe string lights.

Bags & glasses: Labeled paper bags with tissue paper are kept by the front door, to allow guests to hide their bottles upon arrival. These bags are labeled A through H (or more if you have more bottles). Luckily, we own about 30 stemless wine glasses, so I clean them all the day of the party (those glasses get dusty sometimes) and purchased wine glass pens in order to write names on each. In each glass is a score card and rating system chart, plus a cup full of pens/pencils for filling the cards out.

Pour system: Next, we made my husband the designated pour guy! Next year we spoke about doing a flight style, this way people can drink at their own pace. Anyway, Kevin walks around and pours a little into each glass for a tasting, again with the bottle being hidden by the tissue paper. After about 5 minutes, everyone rinses out there glass quick in the sink, and we pour the next round. We like doing a max of 8 bottles because it lasts about 1 hour, and gives a nice variety of different wines before they all start tasting the same!

Once all the bottles are rated, I add up each letter. The bottles never leave their designated bags so we can keep track of which bottle is which. Which ever bottle wins, I give out a small prize. Other prizes were given for guessing how many corks in a jar, and winner of a food trivia game.

Winning bottle: In this case, the below bottle was letter D and won by major points! My friends, Arielle & Bryan, bought this bottle after tasting it in the liquor store (they were having some tastings that day). It was only $8! This is the second time that the cheapest bottle of wine won with the most points! The coolest thing about this particular bottle, is that you can download an app for it. When you point the camera at the bottle (through the app), the man on the bottle starts moving and talking to you. They are supposedly real criminals and tell you what their crimes were! Bottle is called 19 crimes, and was a delicious red.

Cheeses: This can be overwhelming because there are soo many to choose from! My local cheese shopped helped me pick a variety of cheese, and we saved the more common cheeses to purchase at costco. Some specialty cheeses we got included a bay blue cheese, bella vitiano merlot, pecorino tartufo (truffle), cranberry walnut, creamy brie, and more. From costco, we had goat cheese, asiago, manchego, garlic herb, smoked gouda, mozzarella and french swiss.

Meats / nuts/ other: At costco, we purchased a big box of mixed crackers. I bought small bags of chocolate - some dark, some milk - and placed them into little bowls. At the local grocery store, we grabbed some different meats & nuts. This included pecans, peanut mixes, cashews, peppered salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, olives and also some dried apricots. Picking up some grapes for the table always adds some sweet freshness, and they look pretty!

Infused Oils & Balsamic: Besides the cheese, my favorite part of the table is the bread cubes and infused oils & balsamic. We have a local shop that sells them and they are always the biggest hit of the party! Garlic infused olive oil, and Fig balsamic are two of the most popular. Serving something different like this, in addition to a cheese board, brings unique tastings and conversations. If you don't have a local shop like this, you can order online here.

This year, we also served beef & turkey burgers along with homemade bacon mac and cheese (to stick with the cheese them, of course). Some other pics from the party below. Any questions please feel free to comment! If you'd like a copy of the score card or rating system you can email me at kissmyapron@aol.com.

                                                                   Individual cheese boards from Qualtry.

Bacon mac & cheese recipe, just add crispy bacon into the cheese sauce before baking!

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