For months now, I’ve wanted to throw a wine tasting party. There wasn’t any real reason I was putting it off other than that I just hadn’t taken the time to plan it. Enter: my friend Anna. She’s getting married next spring and texted me one day asking what my favorite, reasonably priced bottle of wine was—as she would soon be purchasing alcohol en masse.
I’ve never been more flattered.
Rarely, if ever, does my knowledge of cheap wine serve the greater good, but here was my chance. If there are three things I know, they are: how to be a good nurse, parenting secrets, and wine. Well, I haven’t worked in three years, and it turns out I know nothing about parenting. So this was definitely my time to shine!
While planning the party, we decided we would each be responsible for bringing 2 bottles of wine—one red and one white. They couldn’t cost more than $12, but other than that, there weren’t any rules about what type of wine. There were 5 guests total, and the bride didn’t have to contribute any wine. That being the case, she volunteered to host and provide all of the food. (I strongly recommend finding a friend like this before proceeding).
I slipped the wine into bags and tied the top with pretty twine so that no one could tell which bottle was theirs. Then the bride-to-be switched the bottles around so that no one knew which was which. The bags were lettered A-H, and everyone received a score sheet. There are approximately 1,000 ways you could choose to do the scoring, but let’s be honest—as long as you get to try the wine, does it really even matter? There were four bottles of wine in each category, and we ranked the bottles with 1 being our favorite and four being least favorite. You get the picture—not difficult. No two bottles in the same category could have the same ranking. Therefore, the bottle with the LOWEST number had gotten the HIGHEST ranking and was the winner.
We ranked the red wines first, followed by the white wines. Professional sommeliers we are not. Therefore, in both cases, the first two wines we tasted ended up being #1 and #2. Do not forget to label your cups so you don’t get confused! (We used disposable cups and wrote the corresponding letters directly on the side.) Also, having a palate cleanser sounds pretentious, but it is something you will need to have on hand between wines. I read recommendations for everything from bread to rare beef being used for this purpose. We opted to use fancy generic brand oyster crackers from the south of France.
Let this serve as a cautionary tale to those of you who perhaps haven’t had a night out in a while. My night ended (or my day began—depending on what “2 am” means to you…) with a dance party in the living room that resulted in my being on crutches for the next 48 hours. The other mother of 2 from our group was in bed by 9:30 pm. The task is not for the faint of heart, but it certainly is a great way to spend a Friday night!
Oh, and just in case you were curious—our winners:
Red Wine: Gnarly Head Pinot Noir
White Wine: Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc