Wine tasting is, above all, an opportunity to be together; to share a concentrated moment of communion, of warmth and joy. But which should you choose to satisfy everyone in your group?
Here are some quick tipstochoose quality wines for any wine tasting occasion, especially if you want to put together a wine tasting with friends (with concrete examples from our full suite of wines):
Sparkling wines are a classic image of celebration, born from decades of wine and luxury marketing. It’s also the result of simply being an iconic experience – you can’t quite beat the pop of that bottle of bubbly, and the delightful fizz with each sip.
But sparkling wines are a great wine pairing for any time, not just celebrations. Sparkling wines are high in acidity, that quintessential crisp element that makes it easy to pair with a wide range of food (see the next section on acidity).
Sparkling wine’s acidity also makes it interesting and refreshing to taste alone, since there is usually a tension between the sharp acidity and the creamy notes from both fermentation and aging.
An unpopular truth is that most champagne or sparkling wine doesn’t actually pair well with wedding cake, or most sweet desserts for special celebrations. So be sure to switch to a sweet wine before you grab that slice of cake!
Nothing pleases a crowd more than a limited-release, rare wine selection.
Often, wineries will reserve special lots of grapes from the best part of a vineyard to make very small lots of premium wine – often chasing after unique note characteristics possible only in the best fruit from specific locations.
Treating a group to an uncommon example of a favorite wine is surprising and interesting – and quickly makes a regular tasting a long-remembered one.
Similar to choosing a reserve wine, wines that are just crafted in a unique style or with unique varietals can be pleasantly surprising, memorable additions for a tasting – especially for groups where you want to impress with an avant-garde or cult-following wine.
A current trend is toward unoaked Chardonnay. This style of the varietal is an entirely different, fresh, and more crisp version that can be just as much of a crowd-pleaser as the rounder, more buttery, style you see more commonly.
Other wines with a ‘cult-following’ can send a buzz through both your wine-loving friends and strangers to wine. Digging up a prime Charbono from the old Napa days or an orange wine from a local producer creates a sense of wonder, and a uniquely tasty pairing for all.
Speaking of group-pleasing wines, large format wines can steal the show. Wines can be stored in varying bottle sizes, from the standard 750 ml bottles you usually see to the rare 24-bottle Melchior size!
Magnum bottles, holding the amount of 2 standard wine bottles, present well for groups. They’re not too big to lug around to each person or table, but big enough to make a statement, adding a bit of fun to any occasion.
Large format bottles also have the potential to more effectively age wine in the bottle, with less oxygen exposure per volume, and so are often targeted by collectors looking for an ample stake in a favorite vintage.
The finale of any tasting, meal, or evening is often something sweet – which is also the perfect opportunity for a finale of stellar wine.
A wine should always be sweeter than the dessert it’s paired with, or the food will diminish the wine.
A better pair for wedding cake, holiday desserts, or chocolate is a sweet wine like a port, Madeira, or Sauternes. A local late harvest wine is also a great option, as it will be sweet, unique, and likely more cost-effective than the above options.
Individual Tastes, Group Harmony with the Best Russian River Valley Wines
For any group tasting, party, holiday, or special gathering, wine is a cornerstone of joy for the occasion. It can be difficult to decide, even after reading our guide, which way to go. Large format, or bubbly?
Or, if you’re looking for a night out with great wine and food for your next night out with family or friends, you can reserve a unique dinner at a winery experience – and we’ll take care of the pairing for you.