How to organise your own wine tastings


Mairead Robinson offers some tips for tasting some tipples at home

I have both attended and conducted many wine tastings over the years and it has invariably been both enjoyable and educational.  But you do not have to be a master of wine to host an evening of wine tasting with your friends, and I have often been asked to give a few pointers to people who would like to organize one.  So here are some basic guidelines for getting started.

First of all choose a theme.  You may like to try wines from several different producers in a particular region, or a specific grape variety made in different regions around the world – which is what I generally choose.

You could then ask your friends, half a dozen or perhaps eight people would be a good number, to bring a bottle that fits in with your chosen theme.  This will keep your costs down. Alternatively you can rotate the wine tastings on a monthly basis, thus forming a friendly wine club where each gets a turn to host the evening.

Then you decide if you want to serve the wines “blind”  this is where the bottles are wrapped in paper and so the focus is on the wine itself, not on the brand/price/reputation.  Provide everybody with a pen and paper and let them guess where the wine comes from and give it points out of five.  You can then reveal the wines, discuss each persons remarks and chat in more detail about what everybody thought of each wine. You can then taste again, and see if people’s opinions change.  I can guarantee a very sociable evening will be enjoyed by all, but don’t forget to provide some food. Crackers and cheese or some cold meats such as Serrano ham and Chorizo are good especially when served with some crusty bread, and don’t forget to offer a little more towards the end of the evening to soak up the wine.

Back in March I hosted a wine tasting as part of the 50 Plus Expo where we tasted and compared wines from one of Ireland’s favourite Spanish wine brands, the great Torres winery in Catalonia, sponsored by Findlater Wines & Spirit Group: –

The iconic Sangre de Toro with it’s little black plastic bull attached to the neck of the bottle is celebrating sixty years with a modern new look and design. It was created in 1954 by Miguel Torres Carbo, part of the third generation to head Bodegas Torres, who explored the vineyards in the early 1950s in his Renault 44 in search of the Mediterranean’s most prized red grapes – Garnacha and Cariñena – with the aim to make a wine that would fully express the authentic character of the land of his upbringing.  The result was a wine he called “Sangre de Toro,” taking its name from Greek and Roman poets describing the god of wine – known as Dionysus or Bacchus, respectively – as being as “powerful as a bull” whose blood consisted of wine.

Explaining the rationale behind the revamp, Bodegas Torres General Manager Miguel Torres Maczassek said “  Sangre de Toro is experiencing its second youth and we decided to revamp the design as a tribute to my grandfather for realizing his dream. It stand for authenticity, for reviving certain values of the past that springs from an unpretentious way of thinking and doing things, driven by experience and love for one’s craft”.  Sangre de Toro was Bodegas Torres’s first bottled wine, at a time when most wine was still sold in bulk. It is a major brand in Spain and by the 1970s was already sold in over 50 countries on five continents. It is now sold in over 150 markets, making it the most international of all Torres wines.

To add to their numerous accolades over the years, Torres has been named the World’s most admired wine brand by Drinks International for the second consecutive year and Torres is the only Spanish and European winery that has managed to lead the ranking, compiled by a panel of wine professionals from all over the world

The jury – made up of more than 200 of the world’s top masters of wine, sommeliers, educators and journalists – awarded Torres the highest distinction, thus leading the ranking of more than 50 brands from all over the world which the magazine defines as “…a pool of established names that have proven themselves to be consistent, respected global leaders.”
According to jury member Will Parker, “Torres is a quality brand with a diversity of offerings in terms of style, price and origin and a strong family origin”.


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