What’s the big deal about Wine Tasting Kits?
We were told to stay safe and stay home. We did. So we read books, watched TV, played with the kids. We also painted the living room, worked out in the bath, and baked bread. But then we needed something else. Something to tickle our interest, cheer us up and help us unwind.
Why is everyone getting a Wine Tasting Kit?
What happens when an ever-increasing worldwide interest in wine meets an unyielding global pandemic? Hundreds and thousands of people order wine tasting kits and start wine tasting at home. If there’s anything fun to remember about 2020 it’ll be unpacking the home-delivered semi-pro wine tasting kit, and learning to taste wine.
Never tried? Curious? Get a (good) bottle of wine, a glass, and read on!
How To Taste Wine
One of the perks of getting an at home wine tasting kit is that in just one “session” you could learn the basics of tasting wine like a pro. Here’s how. There are 4 essential steps to master, the same ones professional sommeliers use.
The 4 steps to Start Your Wine Tasting Journey
- Looking at the wine – use a clear glass, make sure the light is neutral, and look at the wine carefully noticing the color, whether it’s clear or opaque, and whether it’s at all viscous.
- Smelling the wine – breathe through your nose and try to spot the prevalent aromas: does it smell like fruit? like an herb? like some kind of nut?
- Tasting the wine – do it slowly! What you’re trying to achieve is an evaluation of the taste structure, i.e. if it is mainly sour, bitter, sweet, and the flavors. Keep in mind that while you taste the structure with your tongue the flavor comes in later, when you swallow the wine.
- Thinking/Concluding – reexamine your tasting experience in your mind, and take both mental and written notes. What you’re aiming at is holding an indelible memory of the wine.
Wine Tasting Kit: the Components
If all there is to wine tasting at home is getting a couple of bottles and following the steps why get a wine tasting kit? Because it makes it that much more fun, and that much more professional-like! What’s in it largely depends on which one you get. Apart from the tools, some of them will offer from 5 to 9 different types of wines (in miniature bottles or tubes), corkscrews, notepads, placemats, tasting checklist and specific tools to help you identify aromas and nuances.
Some also contain information on wine and food pairings, recipes, music to go with the tasting and so on.
How to Use a Wine Tasting Kit
But the really great added value is that most wine tasting kits include Zoom online sessions with wine experts or sommeliers. So, you can buy a kit that only contains wine and the equipment you need and taste on your own or with friends and family, but you can even buy a kit that offers an actual “wine tasting class” led by a professional!
Online Wine Tasting
The perk of virtual online tasting is having the assistance of the speaker, a professional wine taster, while you enjoy the comfort and freedom of wine tasting at home. Yes, because many of the wineries closed due to the pandemic now offer excellent virtual online wine tastings. Virtual online tastings always include a wine shipment of select blends, and an interactive meeting – usually via Zoom – with a vintner, oenologist or sommelier. Wineries often enrich the experience by adding guided virtual tours or videos or stories. It can be really exciting. Just think: a virtual tour of the vineyards and cellars, followed by a private online wine tasting with a dedicated sommelier. Or an engaging virtual group guided tasting… you can see, taste and meet new friends directly from your couch!
Virtual Wine Tasting USA – Top Choice
US-based and curious about online wine tasting?
Visualize sun, and vineyards, and get ready for some California-dreaming with Cline Cellars, an organic family-owned and managed winery in Sonoma, CA. I suggest the May Virtual Wine Tasting Kit, which allows you to taste savor signature Cline blends – bridgehead zinfandel, live oak zinfandel, and big break Grenache – with the estate vintner, winemaker and tasting room manager. See details here
Virtual wine tasting UK – Top Choice
Among the myriad of restaurants, cocktail bars and wine bars offering virtual wine tastings in the UK I would definitely recommend Mayfair’s top-notch fine wine and spirits boutique. To delight customers in lockdown with a selection of favorites, Hedonism offers choice tastings every Friday. Bookings open for the Return to Italy tasting, scheduled to feature superb blends from Piedmont, Tuscany and Veneto, and the Ulysses Vertical Tasting on Tuesday May 11. See details and join here
Wine Tasting At Home
Invite your friends and family and host a wonderful wine tasting party at home! Fun to organize and set-up, and great to attend as a guest, a wine tasting at home event makes for a really unique get-together. Excited? Follow my tips, I’ll take you through the dos and don’ts planning, equipment, wine selection and food, and make sure your wine tasting party is a real success!
What you need for a wine tasting party at home
- Wine opener
- Wine glasses (all alike!)
- Water glasses
- Wine tasting placemats – click here https://winefolly.com/tips/wine-placemats/ to download lovely ones by Wine Folly (
- Pencils and notepads
- Wine info printouts – the technical details you can get from the producer’s website
- Palate cleansers – simple non-seasoned water crackers
- Personal spittoon – one smaller colored glass for each
- Dump bucket
- Polishing cloth
Keep it pretty simple: choose between 4 and 6 wines
Have enough glasses for each guest to be able to taste 2 wines simultaneously
Host the tasting in a comfortable room, with good lighting and (possibly) no background noise/disturbance
Beware of strong odors: no intensely fragrant flowers in the room, and no cooking or serving boldly-scented foods. Strong odors will necessarily impact the way your wine tastes.
Make sure you have enough time to set up before everyone arrives. If you’ve selected any hearty reds that need air, make sure you decant them in due time. Then prepare the tasting table, setting out the placemats, printouts, glasses etc. Make sure each guest has a notepad and pencil to take wine tasting notes
Tips, for a smashing wine tasting at home party
Make it themed
The best, most entertaining and interesting wine tastings are those with a common theme. Examples: one single type of wine from 2 different regions (like Merlot from Italy and France), one single type of wine from the same region made by different producers, one single type of wine from the same region and same producer but different vintages
Though professional wine tastings generally only include water crackers to cleanse the palate you’re having a party,,, Guests will no doubt appreciate a nice side table with easy-to-hold easy-to-nibble treats they can serve themselves with. Examples: cheese, bread or focaccia, fruit (everything sliced, cubed or made into small rolls).
Serve guests a glass of sparkling wine as soon as they arrive, just as a welcome drink. It will take the edge off, and give you time to finish prepping.
As they tasting goes on, encourage participants to write concise but detailed wine tasting notes. Comparing these at