Those Festive Wine Tasting Parties    by Rick Riozza


Wine is the most festive drink ever known to man.  Even if the only wine in the world was simply a Champagne, it would still get top honors far and away from anything else.  Anyway—there’s really no need to get into a heated argument about it; a great lemonade is wonderful—but, how many glasses do you really want to drink at the wedding party?


For so many centuries, wine has been the potion of revelry and celebration evoking cheers, warmth and family sentiments, even love.  It loosens the tongue, calms the nerves, stimulates the appetite and brings people together.  It plays a great partner to other events and matters, such as the afore-mentioned Champagne at a wedding or at a classic dinner with red Burgundy and roast duckling.


Or wine can be an event in itself when it is the center of attention.  Sometimes I hear from readers that they are often hesitant to open a rare or valuable bottle of wine—as to what or when is the best event to uncork that baby.  The universal wine answer is: opening a rare or valuable bottle is the event!  One doesn’t need any other reason.


There is yet another time that wine gets to be the centerpiece:  Enter the tasting party.  What better reason to call one’s friends together than to sample a range of California Cabs (Cabernet Sauvignon)  produced up and down the state or from the same or different vintage;  to demonstrate the superiority

of a Pinot Noir from France or Oregon or Santa Rita Hills; or to taste the different palettes offered by a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, the Loire Valley, or Mendocino.


Because of wine’s festive nature, tasting parties are naturally fun and great social events.  I’ve yet to either attend or hear about a miserable tasting party.  I guess it could happen if the party was interrupted by a major earthquake—certainly there would be much greater concerns than complaining about the wine stains on you new outfit.  Even if there were a bunch of “bad wines” i.e., generally cheap  and  off-flavor, have fun with it!  Sounds hilarious and it would be comical having so many bad ones on the table. Then, I guess, everyone could vote for the worst wine!


Let’s get back to our “good” tasting.  It does need to be a bit organized so that the wines you’re presenting or the wines being brought over (kind of a BYOB set-up which works great and keeps your costs down) have an optimum chance of being tasted and your friends will have an opportunity to chime in with their opinions, which of course, leads to a lot of fun and gregarious discussions.


Each tasting party should have a theme that is interesting and educational.  Wine lovers never stop learning from comparison tastings, and it’s a must for the new wine drinker to refine and educate their palettes by comparing wines.


The internet is filled with tips and pointers on throwing all types of wine tasting parties.  A simple rundown can be found at , or to an “everything you’ll need to know” website such as .  I hear that is an on-line pin board that so many women are flocking to—give that a try.


An important aspect to home tasting parties is to keep everyone generally standing and moving about so that they can mingle freely with their wine glasses in hand.  Setting up your tasting on the dining room table works really well so that guests are able to progress from one wine to another and pick up an appetizer along the way.


Time to Party!  Have Wineglass, Will Travel!    CHEERS!


Rick Riozza is the desert’s sommelier-about-town entertaining at private and corporate wine tastings and events.  He can be reached at







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