How to Host a Virtual Wine Tasting
How to Host a Virtual Wine Tasting
That pop of a cork or clink of wine glasses doesn’t sound quite the same over a video call.
But when it comes to a virtual wine tasting, it’s all about sharing the experience with your community of friends and family.
So, whether you’ve been spending more time at home lately or have friends and family scattered across the country, you can still discover new vintages and reconnect with your favorite people with a virtual wine tasting party.
After all, drinking wine is communal!
How to Host the Ultimate Virtual Wine Tasting Experience
Your checklist for hosting a virtual wine tasting is relatively simple: You need friends to invite, a video-chat-capable computer or tablet (smartphones are a bit too small to enjoy the experience), and, obviously, wine! (We have some favorites here at Chateau Grand Traverse that we think you’ll love.
If you want to take your virtual tasting to the next level, follow these tips for an incredible experience…
Picking the Perfect Wines
When creating your wine tasting menu, you can either 1) keep your wines to the same grape varietal to discuss the subtle differences between bottles, or 2) choose two contrasting wines to really stretch out and explore your palates together.
The in-person tastings we provide to our guests at Chateau Grand Traverse feature five different pours of your choice. Chances are, you don’t want to open five bottles just for yourself, so keep your virtual wine tasting menu to two or three bottles.
Group wine tasting is like a book club: You want everyone on the same page, which is why we suggest that everyone on the video call purchase the same two or three bottles of wine ahead of the tasting. Make sure we can ship wine to where all your friends and family live and give the wine a week’s time to arrive at all your friends’ or family’s homes.
Feel free to use these two-bottle tasting combinations as inspiration for your virtual wine tasting (or create your own!):
- Bold: 2016 Cabernet Franc Reserve + 2016 Pinot Noir Reserve. Both wines are aged in oak barrels and offer subtle hints of chocolate, but contrasting fruit notes. See if your group can determine which delivers cherry nuances and which offers aromas of coffee.
- Sweet: 2019 Late Harvest Riesling + 2018 Semidry Riesling. Old Mission Peninsula is known for the Riesling grape. Discover which wine offers flavors of ripe pear and Honeycrisp apple, and which features rich aromas of vanilla.
- Mix-and-match: 2019 Pinot Noir Rose Vin Gris + 2016 Gamay Noir Reserve. One’s pretty in pink. The other’s a bold, barrel-aged red. Your group will have plenty to discuss with these two wines.
- Bonus wine: Want to add a third bottle to the mix? Try something fun like our Cherry “Port” Reserve.
If everyone in your group cannot purchase the same bottles of wine, we recommend purchasing the same grape varietals from wineries close to their homes and working with that.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong combination of wines for tastings – but we do recommend picking wines you’ve never tried before.
Discussing Your Wines
A wine tasting is not just about drinking the wine. Discussing what you’ve tasted together over the call, sharing flavors/notes/aromas, and breaking down what you liked or didn’t like is what really makes it a wine-tasting party.
To keep the conversation organized and engaging, have your guests jot down notes on three prompts after tasting each wine:
- Flavors detected in the wine.
- What was liked or not liked about the wine.
- What food dish would go well with this wine.
Give everyone “the floor” for a minute or two to avoid talking over each other, which can be chaotic on a call. Also, as the host, do some research ahead of time on flavor profiles to help guide the discussion, if necessary.
Snacks for Your Tasting
Snacks are critical to a successful wine tasting.
Here’s what we recommend:
- Popcorn pairs nicely with pretty much all wines.
- Dried fruits including pineapple and strawberries complement a wide variety of wines quite well.
- Dark chocolate is not only delicious but can highlight the rich flavors of fuller-bodied reds. Try white chocolate with lighter rosés.
- Cheese is the most versatile wine-tasting snack. We suggest hard aged cheeses, like aged cheddar, along with something softer, like Brie.
Keep the Wine Flowing
The party doesn’t end with the tastings. Chances are, your guests will want to enjoy a full glass of their favorite wine and keep the conversation going.
That conversation could happen organically, but prompts can always help after everyone catches up with each other. As the host, try a deck of conversation starter cards to keep the conversation quality at an all-time high.
Things to Keep in Mind for Your Virtual Wine Tasting
Lastly, here are some logistical considerations to keep in mind when planning your virtual wine tasting:
- Time zones. Depending on where your tasting crew lives, pick a time that works for everyone. That means a time that best accommodates everyone’s work schedule, kids’ bedtimes, etc.
- Technology. In your invitation, include a friendly reminder to double-check their internet connection and video conference app ahead of time. No one wants to wait 10 minutes to pop a bottle while your cousin attempts to get connected.
- Lighting. Poor lighting can put a damper on this virtual, intimate experience. Remind your guests to fill the room with light and not set up in front of a window where they could be washed out.
Let’s Connect Over Wine
Virtual wine tastings are fun, but in-person visits are even better. Plan a trip to Chateau Grand Traverse to sample some of Michigan’s best-made wines!