...or a couples party.
Combining wine, cheese, and game night for the win on February 14th.
A couple months ago, I threw a party for about 10 friends in which wine tasting was the focus, but in the most fun, light hearted, and non-serious (unless we’re talking competition) way.
It's the perfect idea for a night in on Valentine's Day. No restaurants, no prix fixe menus, no stress; but still all of the wine, all of the cheese, and all of the fun.
AS THE HOST, YOU’LL NEED...
Brown paper bags (sleeve-like, for perfectly fitting one bottle) which you can get for free from any wine or liquor store
Regular brown paper bags with handles for giving away the prize bottles at the end
Sharpie for numbering each bag (or you can get fancier and use tags)
Ribbon and scissors for tying the top of each bagged bottle to make sure no part of the label is showing
Wine key for opening up each bottle
Wine glasses for tasting
Note cards and pens so tasters can take notes on each variety (or just rely on iPhones for taking notes—that’s what we did)
Cheese board, chocolate, or any other spread of snacks (but you could also make it potluck style and ask guests to bring something to munch on)
Music, because music...and you’re throwing a party
HERE’S HOW IT GOES...
Every person, including guests and hosts, brings two bottles of the same kind of wine, without telling anyone else which wine is theirs. Bring the bottles to the party in a bag or otherwise covered up.
The host stealthily and secretly takes one bottle of each pair, places it in a sleeve bag, secures it with a ribbon, and labels it with a number for tasting. The second bottle from each pair is set aside, hidden from anyone’s view (bottles can be placed in larger brown paper bags at this time to be eventually given as prizes).
All bottles are lined up and opened with a wine key for tasting. Going in numerical order, each bottle is poured for tasting. Note: start with only a tasting portion for each person, and people can have more afterwards if they’d like. Tasters take notes on each wine, perhaps using a rating system to more easily compare each wine after the fact. Take a few minutes of rest between each bottle to chat more, eat more, and frankly, feel the buzz more, and rinse glasses in between bottles if you want to keep things proper.
Things will get rowdy, maybe a little competitive, and downright fun as the night goes on. It is such a creative way to spend a night in, imbibing and trying new varieties of wine that you might not otherwise get a chance to try without buying yourself
At the end, the host conducts a heads-down, hands-up vote in which all participants (including the host) put one finger up for their number one favorite wine, two fingers up for their second favorite wine, or no fingers for any others. The host will go through each bottle of wine, in numerical order again, and count up the votes for each bottle. For example, “We are now voting on bottle number 1, please hold up one finger if it’s your favorite, two fingers if it’s your second-favorite, or no fingers otherwise,” and then do the same with bottle number 2, and then bottle number 3, and so on. After voting is done, the host tallies up the points for each bottle, awarding 2 points for every number-one vote, and 1 point for every number-two vote. And then in an over-dramatized, drawn-out, drumroll-please way, the host reveals the results, beginning with last place and ending with third place, runner-up, and winner. We made a joke out of our last-place recognition and awarded that person with their own bottle back (emphasizing that clearly no one else wants it!). Since we had 8 bottles total, we then gave third place 1 bottle, second place 2 bottles, and first place 4 bottles. We let first place choose which four bottles they wanted to take home, and then gave second place the next choice, and third place was left with whichever bottles were leftover.
We all couldn’t get over how much fun this night was. It paced out everyone’s alcohol intake, allowed for some creative learning, and encouraged a little friendly competition along the way. I highly recommend this for your next get together, whether for girls’ night or a mixed party.