How to Host a Sparkling Wine Tasting Party

How to Host a Sparkling Wine Tasting Party

CHEFS Catalog

CHEFS Catalog

August 24th, 2018

How to Host a Sparkling Wine Tasting Party

In our opinion, sparkling wine is always a good idea. There’s just something about those little bubbles that make even an ordinary day, feel a little special.

Whether you’re hosting a bridal shower, birthday bash, or just a simple Thursday get together, we’re here to give you all the information and tools you need to host your own blind sparkling wine tasting party.

Choosing the Sparkling Wines

Trips down the wine and champagne isle can be overwhelming. When hosting a sparkling wine tasting, we recommend getting a variety of sparkling – from the driest to the sweetest and everything in between. We recommend about 6 bottles for 15 guests.

To help you get started, here are some we tried during our sparkling wine tasting party:

  • Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs
    Napa, California
    Price: $45-55
    Notes: Made primarily from the red grape Pinot Noir, Blanc de Noirs is a medium-bodied, brut sparkling wine. You’ll get a crisp acidity that gives way to a floral, honeyed finish. Learn more here.
  • Champagne Geoffroy Expression
    Napa, California
    Price: $35-45
    Notes: This is a very earthy aperitif-style Champagne with lots of floral overtones. We felt it was lighter on its feet than the others on this list. Learn more here.
  • Lucien Albrecht NV Brut Rosé Sparkling
    Alsace, France
    Price: $20-30
    Notes: This fruit-driven Brut Rosé has notes of rhubarb and a lot of strawberries. We found it completely dry on the palate.
  • Roederer Estate L’ermitage
    Anderson Valley, California
    Price: $50-65
    Notes: This sparkling had more nutty characteristics than the other sparkling wines we tried, however, lemon and other citrus notes balanced it well. Learn more here.
  • Champagne Blanc De Blancs D’ay, Gaston-Chiquet
    Champagne, France
    Price: $45-60
    Notes: This Blanc de Blancs is 100% Chardonnay. It has a mineral finish (almost smoky) but is balanced by notes of fresh green apples. Learn more here.
  • Mumm Brut Prestige
    Napa, California
    Price: $18-25
    Notes: This was voted #1 during our blind tasting. This Brut features stone fruit and creamy vanilla aromas. It has a rich, lingering finish that will make you reach for another sip. Learn more here.

***Pro-tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Whether it’s a grocery store or your local liquor store, someone there helped pick everything you see on the shelves. They want to help you! So grab someone that works there, tell them what you are doing, be honest about your budget, and take in all their knowledge and recommendations.

Tasting Materials and Preparing the Wine

Ok, so you have your sparkling wines. Now it’s time to get them ready for your tasting!

First, you’ll need to cover the sparkling labels to conceal them to your guests. We designed these free printable numbered labels to go over each of your bottles. If you can, print on waterproof paper so that you can put the bottles on ice.

Next, chill your wines. The key to a successful sparkling wine tasting is the temperature of the wines. Sparkling wines are best when they are super cold. We recommend placing them in the fridge at least 4 hours prior to your tasting.

Make sure you have the appropriate glassware. In order to enhance the wine tasting experience, sparkling wine requires special glassware. The key is a wide middle, with a narrower top. That way you get more of the aromas coming through, but the narrower top controls the acidity and keeps the bubble in. Here are some of our favorite champagne flutes.

Unless you have a huge stock of champagne flutes, we recommend dividing the 6 bottles into two flights (so that your guests are trying three a time).

Finally, prepare tasting sheets for your guests. It’s going to be tough for your guests to keep all six sparkling wines straight throughout your tasting. Use these free printable tasting cards so that your guests can keep notes on the wines they taste.

*Pro tip: Don’t peel off the labels of your sparkling wines! Instead, use our printable labels to simply conceal them while you pour. It makes for a more fun reveal at the end, plus guests will be able to better identify what they liked when they go to the store.

Conducting the Blind Tasting

Now for the fun part, tasting the wines!

As we mentioned above, unless you have a large quantity of champagne flutes, we recommend breaking the 6 bottles into two flights, so that your guests are trying three a time. This helps them compare a few of the sparkling side by side without having to provide 6 glasses for each person.

Start by pouring the first three sparkling wines into everyone’s glasses. Remember, this is just a tasting, so don’t over fill the glass!

Next, you’ll be guiding your guests on four main sparkling wine characteristics: Look, Aroma, Taste, and Finish.

Look: You’re observing both the bubbles and the color. An older sparkling wine, for example, will have very tiny bubbles, mainly because they have aged several years and lost a significant amount of dissolved CO2. IN regards to color, because sparkling wine can be made from any grape varietal, the colors will span the spectrum from pale yellow to bright pink.

Aroma: No need to swirl the glass here! While the aroma of sparkling wines tend to be a little more muted than still wines, characteristics will include fruit, citric, floral, and yeast.

Taste: Instruct your guests to take a sip and to let the wine roll around all parts of their mouth. This takes practice! What flavors are coming through? The tip of your tongue will identify the sweetness level. Sparkling wines are categorized according to sugar content: Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Demi Sec, all the way to Dulce. The back of the tongue will pick up the acidity.

Finish: What happens after you swallow the sparkling wine? Does the wine linger for a bit? It’s likely that you’ll pick up some of the same characteristics you identified on the nose.

Once guests have had all six sparkling wines, invite them to revisit some of their favorites. Once everyone has had a chance to note their favorites, ask for a vote before you reveal the wines.

Your Sparkling Wine Tasting Party Checklist

You’re officially ready to host a blind sparkling wine tasting party!

To recap, here’s your Pre-Party Checklist:

✔ Shop for a variety of sparkling wines – 6 bottles for a party of 12-15 is plenty

Print your numbered wine labels on waterproof paper

Print tasting note sheets

✔ Chill your wines at least 4 hours before the party

✔ Have plenty of champagne flutes on hand. Here are our recommendations.

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