How To Host Your Own Virtual Wine Tasting Event
Virtual wine tasting parties are all the rage – so how do you organise one?
It’s easy – Guests, Wine, Location (virtual/garden), Agenda – below is our guide to making it successful!
Please click here if you're looking for halfwine.com's Virtual Tasting offerings, from curated tasting packs, to monthly winetasting events, to bespoke corporate or social occasions with our WSET-qualified wine guide.
The people you invite and their level of interest in wine should set the agenda.
• For an informal occasion – either hire a wine guide to lead a fun, factual tasting or, if you’re on a budget, find a friend or family member who can present a few facts about the wine and suggest what the people should look for in terms of colour, bouquet and flavour.
• For those who want to go a little further or add something special to the evening – hire a wine guide to lead your tasting and help you explore the grape, region or wines you have chosen, advise on food pairings, and answer any questions.
• For serious wine buffs – hire a wine guide to delve into the topic of choice; whether it is grape, region, producer or all of the above, your guide can walk you through these, along with the viticulture and winery processes that are impacting the wine’s flavour, intensity and price.
For more information about hiring a wine guide or curated tasting packs and tasting notes for each wine, please see here.
Decide on a theme that interests you. Halfwine’s tasting packs are one source of ideas. The best themes are comparisons. There are typically four dimensions that you could use:
• Cultivar (grape or blend)
• Price (as a proxy for quality)
For example, select wines from around the world: Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux, South Africa, the USA and Chile (same cultivar, similar vintage, similar price, but different regions).
When looking to assess quality, a good theme is same cultivar, same vintage, same region but different prices - please see our red Bordeaux tasting pack here. Another popular - but more difficult to arrange - theme is called a ‘vertical’; same wine from the same producer but different vintages - please see our red Burgundy vertical tasting pack here.
How Much Wine?
Home delivery is quite expensive and, per bottle, the more you buy the less it costs. In one evening two, or maybe four, half bottles of wine are all one can handle without waste. You could opt to hold three or four sessions over a few weeks and buy twelve bottles with free delivery from halfwine.com. Consider whether each participant (person or couple) buys their own, or does one person buy the lot and get Halfwine to sort out the logistics of home delivery?
Thinking virtual? Which video app to use? Zoom seems to have taken the world by storm for this (Houseparty also has its devotees) but Facebook Messenger Rooms, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams all have features (restricted in the free version) to enable a virtual tasting. If you are holding the tasting for a company your normal video conferencing software should be fine.
Alternatively, when we can, organise a garden or street party - six to eight people, appropriately spaced enjoying a wine tasting, is the perfect way to re-connect with friends and family. You can still hire a virtual wine guide for the event, or depending on location, hire a wine guide to come to you.
What’s The Agenda?
How do you spend the time? How formal do you want it to be? How do you prevent the tumbleweed moments? In any setting, along with a few facts, a quiz goes down well; keep other activities in mind in case the chat flags. One fun thing is to invite one person to randomly choose a wine, taste and describe it to the others, and see if people can work out which wine is being described. Also useful is to ask each participant to get some nibbles, perhaps a hard and a soft cheese or some nuts to accompany the wines (your guide, if you have one, can advise on pairings in advance).
Below is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek sample agenda for a social gathering, sent to us by a fan of halfwine.com...
"Agenda for this eve:
1. Where are we in our house?
2. Updates: cute creatures we live with (children/cats/dogs)
3. Wine chat - what are we drinking
4. Rant 1: this weeks failings at the children's school
5. Q&A (all asking questions about the virus and expecting at least one of us to know the definitive answers)
6. Rant 2: global handling of the Coronavirus
7. Trashy TV shows screened this week
8. Obsessive exercising update (running/cycling)
9. Rant 3: something totally non-PC and fuelled by wine
Feel free to amend."
Halfwine works with an industry qualified and experienced wine guide, who has helped us create a number of virtual wine tasting options.
- Self-Guided – using halfwine.com tasting notes for each wine
- Live Wine Guide – for our four-half bottle tasting packs
- Something Special – work with halfwine.com to create a bespoke event
Please see here for more information on any of the above options.