Friday, 4 December 2015

Hosting a wine tasting*

Award-winning Albarino we all loved.
Last weekend in partnership with Camino Craft Wines* we hosted a wine tasting to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. It was a great success and the wines we shared were award-winning Spanish artisan wines from Galicia. I learned a lot in the process, both about the wines and about hosting a wine tasting. It was a really fun evening, and a little different to just having people over for "drinks". Here's what I'd recommend:

  • Invite a group of people who like wine. No point trying to convert beer drinkers, in that case do a beer tasting! (Actually that would be a great idea too...)
  • Pick a small selection of wines which are different to each other yet similar in some respects. The three wines we tasted were: an organic white "Albarino", a dry white and an earthy red. Different wines but all from the same region in Spain. This made researching the wines easier, yet there was enough variation in the wines to keep us all interested.
  • Speak to someone who knows about the wines and get them to recommend which ones will work well together for a wine tasting. Rafael from Camino Craft Wines is an expert as he is from Galicia himself, which really helped. He described the grapes being harvested by hand from boats at the bottom of a gorge, insider knowledge that really helped me appreciate the craft involved in the production of the wines.
  • Serve water between the wines, for people to refresh their palates.
  • Food should not overpower the wines, so no strong garlic flavours needed. We stuck to homemade hummus, a few cheeses, breadsticks, olives and crackers. Simple snacks which were fuss-free to prepare (you can prepare the hummus well in advance and even freeze it if you like) and easy to eat. As there were a few gluten-free guests it was important to serve options that everyone could enjoy, and I thought the olives and cheeses were nice Spanish-style  accompaniments.
  • Begin with the lightest wine first. Ask your wine expert which one this is if you're not familiar with them (and I wasn't). White wines before reds usually too. It helps you appreciate the delicate flavours of the lighter wines to do it in this order, rather than overpowering your palate with a strong red at the start. 
  • Tell your guests a little about the wine they are about to taste, how it's produced, the size of batches made (some of our craft wines that night came from batches as small as 4,000 bottles). Ask them to describe the flavours they get from the wine before reading the official "tasting notes" of each wine. This is fun, as people come up with lots of different ideas rather than being swayed by what they're "supposed" to taste. It is all subjective anyway.
  • Just serve a small amount of each wine for the tasting part, then let people drink away at whatever they want after they've tried them all. This way nobody is filling up too quickly on a wine they may not be mad about, and anyone driving home has a chance to sober up! 
  • Get a "vote" on the favourite wine of the evening, in our case it was the Albarino. Fresh and light, this is the top organic white wine in Ireland with good reason. 
I'd been looking for an organic wine for a while, since becoming more conscious about how our food is produced. So I was delighted to meet Rafael from Camino Craft Wines at the Green Door Market, and was happy to review his wines for The Mama's Hip. They are a Dublin-based family business who offer free delivery and a 10% discount for my readers, just use the code "10%mamahip" (one use only, expires 31st December 2015). As they are a wholesaler the minimum order is 12 bottles. Prices start at 11.99e. See their website here.

So if you are inspired to hold a tasting of your own, please come back and let us know how it went!
Nee x

Camino Craft Wines provided the wines for this review but no financial compensation was made. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Mama's Hip possible.

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