It can, on the upside, be robust, round or balanced. On the downside, it can be tanky, cloying or flat. "Rim" can reveal age. A "fleshy body" can be a good thing.
The world of wine is rich and deep. For many, it's more than a drink; it's a pastime, with a language, culture and dedicated following all its own. For many more, it's exactly a drink -- a delicious drink with the added bonus of a buzz. It's fun at dinner parties, a nice end to a long day and the perfect accompaniment for fruit and cheese and crusty bread like you're sitting at a café in Paris.
Or maybe it's just delicious. Point is, wine can be recreational in and of itself, and as the foodie movement grows, more and more people are centering social occasions around the fermented-grape beverage. Hosting your own wine event can be a unique way to bring friends together for an experience that can be not just fun, but downright edifying.
Here, five ways to use wine for an organized good time. Tastings are just the beginning -- a perfect beginning, in fact.
You don't have to be a connoisseur to host a wine tasting -- not that it hurts, of course, but anybody can bring together some friends to explore the bouquets, the bodies and the finishes of some classic bottles.
Wine tastings are not willy-nilly gatherings. They are organized, prescribed events that take thoughtful planning and, typically, at least a little research. Since printed information sheets and score cards are standard, this event is probably not a last-minute deal, but if you're looking for some good-old highfalutin fun, a wine-tasting may be exactly the way to go.
Both living rooms and restaurants can be perfect locales for a tasting. Try to make sure your guests are all at similar levels of wine expertise so everyone feels at home.
Next, a pairing.
Wine is fun enough, but why not up the excitement by adding some gourmet (or not) food to the mix? Wine takes on whole new dimensions when explored in the context of different foods, and creatively pairing wine with certain dishes can make for a deeper tasting experience and, perhaps, a longer evening together.
You can pair wines with a variety of interesting cheeses, appetizers or a full-on five-course dinner. Pairing can be themed (by region, by wine type or by food type) for some extra flair, and you can even make it a potluck, with each person or couple bringing a paired wine and food they want to share.
Like a tasting, pairing takes some research if you're not already well-informed on the topic. If you go the potluck route and you want to make sure the evening is truly about wine, make sure your guests know to bring thoughtful combinations, and maybe even a list of the pairing characteristics, as opposed to just any food and wine.
Next, a more casual affair.
Not in the mood for research or a bunch of planning? You can still have fun with wine. A bring-your-own wine party can be as loose or as themed as you like: Guests can simply bring their favorite bottles of any wine they like, or you can offer guidelines, such as wines from a particular region or country, of a particular grape or below a certain price point so nobody feels pressured to spend a lot.
A BYO wine party gets everybody involved and contributing, which adds a lot to the fun. It's a great last-minute option when you don't have the time or inclination to do a lot of organizing -- just make sure you have some extra wine on-hand in case somebody forgets to BYO!
Next, for true (or burgeoning) wine lovers.
Publicly accessible wine classes, once a fairly rare offering, have become practically commonplace. Restaurants, wine stores and even colleges offer them regularly, teaching students wine history, winemaking and tasting methods, among other topics. These can be great ways to get friends together for a night of light learning that lead ultimately to something long-term in your social group, like wine clubs or regular tasting events.
In some areas, you can even hire an expert to come to your home to teach the class, making this type of event even more intimate, fun and convenient. To find out which types of wine classes are available in your town, just Google "local wine class."
And finally, the essential outing!
Ready to go straight to the source? If you're up for some travel, which may be quick or extensive depending on where you live, there's no beating a vineyard tour (or three) for some wide-ranging wine fun. Lots of vineyard tours include education, tastings and sometimes even pairings, and some set aside grapes for visitors to stomp themselves.
If you live in or near wine country, this could just be a day trip. If you live farther way, you can still hit the vineyard for your wine event -- just make a weekend of it!
Be sure to look around locally even if you don't live in, say, Napa Valley. You might be surprised to find out there's a small vineyard in your area you didn't know about.
Like the wine class, a vineyard tour can easily lead to future wine events: Why not each buy a bottle of your favorite wine from the vineyard stock to share at the next BYO party?
Just be sure to avoid anything tanky (stale), cloying (overly sweet) or flat (lacking depth). No one wants to be the friend who brings bad wine.
For more information on wine, tasting, event planning and related topics, check out the links on the next page.
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More Great Links
- Indulge Wine School (March 4, 2012) http://www.indulgewineschool.com/wine-101
- Food & Wine Events for Denver, Colorado. Local Wine Events. (March 4, 2012) http://www.localwineevents.com/events/listing/us/10
- Glossary of Wine-Tasting Terminology. Jan. 1995. (March 8, 2012) http://zebra.sc.edu/smell/wine_glossary.html
- Salkeld, Lauren. "How to Host a Wine-Tasting Party." Epicurious. (March 4, 2012) http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/entertaining/partiesevents/winetasting
- Throw a Pairing Party: Tour the Wine Country at Home. My Recipes. (March 4, 2012) http://www.myrecipes.com/menus/wine-pairing-party-10000001651461/
- Wine Country Tour Shuttle (March 4, 2012) http://www.winecountrytourshuttle.com/?gclid=CJ3py8PBzq4CFQpshwodMGKMCg