Durbanville Hills cellar master Martin Moore explains that learning to be your own wine sommelier and arranging a wine party is easier than you might think.
“It really comes down to a bit of party planning and some research into particular wine and food pairings.
“For example, I would recommend tasting reds in winter because their silkiness and temperature generally work well for cosy nights in,” he said.
Moore shares his steps for a successful wine soirée:
Pick a theme and format
The options are endless – from a simple tasting to a sit-down pairing and dinner, it’s up to you.
Blind tastings are a fun twist if you have friends who are familiar with their wines.
Build your guest list
Now that you have your theme and format, you’re ready to let everyone know you’re hosting a party. Keep in mind that an enjoyable wine tasting is best kept to fewer than 10 guests.
You want people to engage about the wines, while also mingling and getting to enjoy their favourite varietals.
Select your wines
Moore recommends focusing on red wines because their velvet taste and full-bodied profile tend to work well in the chilli season.
“My fireside wine of choice would have to be the merlot, as it boasts so much character. Merlots are produced in a distinctive, new-world-style that are big, brawny, juicy, fruit-forward and stylistically very similar to cabernet.”
Choose your wines by region or vintage (the year in which the wine was produced).
When your wines arrive, cover them with a brown bag to hide what your guests will be tasting, an element of surprise adds to the experience.
Pick the perfect food pairings
Wine pairing is easy with a little research and good quality wines.
Red wines open up a world of opportunity for winter dishes.
“A good merlot pairs beautifully with grilled, smoked, or charred foods - marinades with sharper flavours that will be echoed in a dish.”
To accommodate the white wine lovers Moore recommends a chardonnay, paired with lighter foods like grilled fish.
“Your pairings are mostly dependent on the wine you want to serve for the night and on the type of tasting you are looking to do - you can then find the perfect meal to accompany the wine”.
Make magic with detail
The perfect party means paying attention to the smaller things, which ironically have a big impact.
White and red wine specific glasses make a big difference in terms of bringing out the flavour profiles of the wine.
Your red wine glasses look more like a bowl and are usually larger, while the white wine glasses are U-shaped.
Making sure you have the other essentials, such as a spittoon for excess wine, fresh water for rinsing and palate cleansers will take your wine party to the next level.