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Host your own wine tasting session

Wine tasting is fun but can be daunting when you don’t know where to start. If you don’t fancy getting in a professional, there are a few, simple rules you can follow to make sure that your tasting runs smoothly and makes sense, even if you are all still feeling your way. Whether your guests are seasoned wine aficionados or just getting to grips with the basics, here’s your Clos19 guide to hosting your own wine tasting.

Setting up

If you’re hosting a tasting in your house, try to find an area that has good light and is not full of cooking smells. You’ll also want your guests to be comfortable for the duration, so you may want to avoid the cellar, even if it is rather ‘atmospheric’. The kitchen, dining room or living room can make the best places - even better if you have a table for your guests to sit at. Make sure you have a corkscrew, that there is plenty of water on offer, a spittoon bucket or similar for excess wine to be tipped away (if there is any) and if you’re serving food, make sure it’s not too spicy or heavily flavoured. Water biscuits and simple cheeses can work well. And don’t forget the pens and paper for those who want to make notes! Alternatively, go digital and make notes on an app.


With wine tasting, the best way to learn is by comparison so if you can, give everyone two or three glasses each so they can play spot the difference between two or three wines at a time. You will see a few ‘eureka’ moments, doing it this way. This is also why a table is a good idea (and seating people stops them getting too loud and chatty if you want to keep their attention for the duration). Use tulip shaped glasses with a stem as they won’t spill easily when swirled and fill them to just under a third of the way up. There are many styles of glasses you could use depending on the wines. Our favourites are these medium-sized ones, usually used for sauvignon blanc, chianti or tempranillo as they are the most versatile. For more advanced or playful blind tastings, you may want to use black glasses to really test your nose’s ability to distinguish aromas independently from the visual bias…


Vertical? Horizontal? Blind? Giving your wine tasting session a theme will give it some structure and help the guests put what they’re tasting into context. The theme you go for will probably depend on the general wine knowledge in the room. For beginners, showing classic examples of grape varieties or famous blends is often a great place to start. For those with a little more knowledge, focusing on a particular region or country works well, especially if you serve everything ‘blind’ and make them guess what they’re tasting. You could also try them with a ‘vertical’ tasting, i.e. using the same wine from different vintages or a ‘horizontal’ tasting, where many different wines are shown, but all from the same vintage.

How many wines and bottles of each?

You will know best what you want to show at your tasting, but a six is generally a good number of wines. Tasting six wines in groups of three with a quick break in the middle takes just the right amount of time and allows for some mingling before and afterwards. As you’re tasting several wines, remember to always drink responsibly. One 75 cL bottle will give you about fifteen tasting samples. If you want to err on the side of caution however, stick to twelve samples per bottle; this will allow for re-tasting as portions are particularly generous – just like you for putting on this tasting in the first place.

Here are some examples of interesting tastings to do with our current assortment of delicious wines:

Bordeaux and similar blends:

  • Cheval Blanc
  • Cheval des Andes
  • Cape Mentelle
  • Newton Vineyard
  • Ao Yun
  • Terrazas de Los Andes

Exploration of single vineyards

  • Newton Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons from Yountville, Mount Vedeer and Spring Mountains District
  • Terrazas de Los Andes Malbec Las Compuertas and Cabernet Los Aromos

Trick your guests: An eclectic mix of styles

  • Numanthia
  • Cloudy Bay Te Wahi
  • Cloudy Bay Te Koko
  • Terrazas de Los Andes Torrontés
  • Cape Mentelle Rosé
  • Cheval des Andes

Vintage Champagne

  • Krug Vintage 2004
  • Dom Pérignon 2006
  • Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2004
  • Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2008
  • Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2006
  • Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2008

Prestige Champagne, inspired from our London Masterclass Tasting in June 2017

  • Dom Ruinart 2006
  • Dom Ruinart Rosé 2004
  • Krug Grande Cuvée
  • Krug Rosé
  • Dom Pérignon 2006
  • Dom Pérignon Rosé 2004

Rosé Champagne, inspired from our London Masterclass Tasting in July 2017

  • Moët & Chandon Brut non-vintage rosé
  • Ruinart Rosé Non Vintage
  • Veuve Clicquot Rosé Non Vintage
  • Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2008
  • Veuve Clicquot Rosé 2008
  • Dom Pérignon Rosé 2004
  • Krug Rosé Non Vintage