Cheers! How to Start a Wine Tasting Group

   By ajr1005  Jun 27, 2009

There’s no better passion to indulge than wine. The beauty of starting or continuing the wine journey is that the more you learn, the more you realize that you don’t know, so it’s an awesome hobby hard to quench. Best of all, learning about wine can be done in the comfort of your own home and in the company of good friends. Up to 15 guests can enjoy a “taste” of each bottle of wine- and 4-6 wines make a true tasting.

If you’re really interested in learning a lot, you can even sign up for the Jetsetters Wine Club by Bottlenotes, where we’ll send you to a different region in the world. Your wine tasting “kit in a box” will arrive with tasting notes, pairing suggestions, and as of July 2009, even an educational wine video featuring me and my business partner, Kim Donaldson tasting the wines along side you!

Whether you sign up for a Bottlenotes wine club or simply leverage the advice of your favorite wine steward at your local retail shop, my top ten recommendations for organizing a monthly wine tasting group are as follows:

1) Set the date and location one month in advance; book people for 90 minutes so they think they can squeeze it into their schedule; they’ll end up staying 2-3 hours. Guaranteed.

2) Invite your 20 favorite wine tasting companions, expecting to get 10 to each tasting.

3) Delegate the wine selection (whether outsourced to, your favorite buyer at your local wine shop, your best friend’s wife who’s training for her Master Sommelier exam, etc.) to one group member. 6-7 wines seems to be the max number a small group can enjoy when tasting casually over 2 hours.

4) Delegate the relevant cheese/appetizer acquisition to another attendee.

5) Decide if you would like a cultural component for the evening and if so, delegate yet another “cultural curator” for the evening. Again, this is truly optional in my mind; the wine alone can provide ample topic for discussion.

6) Ask the host to be prepared with at least 2 wine glasses per person (for side by side comparison purposes), glasses of water, and spittoons (1 per 3 attendees) for the tasting.

7) Pick your favorite album to play in the background so the music is consistent throughout the evening.

8) Start with a half-glass of sparkling wine or the first white as a palate-awakener as everyone arrives.

9) Ask people to rate the wines as they taste them, so you can have an active conversation about the merits of each wine.

10) If you’re inclined to track all that you taste, fax the completed tasting notes to so we can upload the attendees’ ratings to their own online wine cellar - or you can upload your tasting notes and ratings directly to (and soon by Bottlenotes Mobile!).

Most of all, we’re happy to help organize your tasting anytime; simply email for personalized tasting tips.

Lastly, if a whole wine tasting series seems a little intimidating, I recommend picking a regional theme, give a preliminary tasting a go as a trial, and you can always lock in for a multi-event series if it’s a success.

By and large, our recommendation is to plan on a half-bottle, of 2.5 glasses, per person per tasting. There are roughly 20 one-ounce pours, or 10 2-ounce pours, per bottle.


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docmp78 by docmp78 | Fridley, MN
Dec 12, 2010


misskelly by misskelly | GLENWOOD, MN
Jan 21, 2010

I am interested in this also. How formal/informal do you get with these? Does the hostess supply all the wine or do you ask the others to contribute?

GailRN by GailRN | west bend , WI
Jan 10, 2010

love the idea, I'll be planning this with my girlfriends in february.

momagarry by momagarry | MILWAUKEE, WI
Oct 14, 2009

This is a wonderful concept!

laidoff by laidoff | Evergreen Park, IL
Oct 08, 2009

I'm not a wine person but i guess this would work for BEER as well, sounds like a great idea!!!!!!

indiana_girl by indiana_girl | BULL SHOALS, AR
Oct 06, 2009

That is a really neat idea - I love doing wine tastings. I went to one last Saturday and bought 4 bottles of wine. I went to my local Walmart on Monday and found that they carry several wines from this winery at 45% less than what I paid for on one of my purchased wines. Oh well. Next time I will make a list of what Walmart carries of the winery and bring it to the next wine tasting!

cyntha-chelle by cyntha-chelle | Saint George, UT
Sep 06, 2009

This is something I will be looking into. I love a nice bottle of wine shared with friends. What better way to learn more about wines. Sounds like great fun.

mlaudone by mlaudone | West Chester, PA
Sep 06, 2009

I've done a martini club before, but this is a great idea with wine, and I'd love to pair it with cheese or cheese recipes. Thanks!

yoga2day by yoga2day | Mountain View, CA
Aug 28, 2009

I've done this before! It's so much fun! Sometimes we make it a theme...for example, everyone brings a Syrah or a Merlot...then we don't tell anyone how much they cost and we have to guess the's so much fun and VERY surprising!

Dare2BDifferent by Dare2BDifferent | Port Tobacco, MD
Aug 19, 2009

I'm really going to consider this once I'm back to working.

amcp33 by amcp33 | Mableton, GA
Jul 19, 2009

I do in home wine tastings for a living and they are TONS of fun! Contact me if you would like to do a tasting or just get more info.

kwoodbur by kwoodbur | Philadelphia, PA
Jul 08, 2009

This is a wonderful idea, I can't wait to give it a try.

Feedmepickles by Feedmepickles | Buffalo, NY
Jul 08, 2009

As soon as I give birth and things settle down, I would LOVE to do this!

livelovelaugh by livelovelaugh | Pleasantville, NY
Jul 07, 2009

This sounds like such a great idea! I know that my friends and I would love to do this. I look forward to finding out more about it!!

rapcat by rapcat | Toronto, OU
Jul 06, 2009

Hi everyone! I just signed on and can't wait to chat with all of you!!