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by Cora L. Diekman

Know You Don’t Have to Be An Expert

First and foremost, understand that parties are about one thing: having FUN.  Your guests came to visit you, not a sommelier. So relax, and set a mood that’s all about enjoying time

Understand Rosé (Even Just A Little)

Contrary to what you may think, rosé usually ISN’T a blend of red and white wine.  Most rosés are created by allowing red wine grapes to remain in contact with their juice for a short period of time, lending the finished product a pale pink hue. Highest quality rosés are created by bleeding off a percentage of the juice from red winemaking, called Saignee rosé.  Since rosé wines are made from many types of grapes from all over the world, there is a huge variety to chose from – even Champagne.  Bottles are generally affordable, with many bottles of ‘good’ rosé costing less than $15.  If you’re still confused when you reach the wine shop, experts suggest asking for a dry variety from France or Spain

Wine Tasting 101 – See, Swirl, Smell, Sip, Savor

This generally accepted method of tasting wine is intended to provide the taster with the full experience, from as many senses as possible.  Remind your guests to slow down and enjoy the tasting experience, rather than rushing from one wine to the next.  And yes, it is perfectly acceptable to pour out the rest of a taste, if it’s not a favorite.  (That’s where the dump bucket comes in.)  Tasting is about just that – not inebriation.

Keep open bottles cool with this Chill Pouring Spout.  Replace the cork with this pre-frozen spout to keep rosé at the ideal sipping temperature until the last drop is poured.

Consider A Theme

You’ve already decided on rosé, but there are so many other fun ways to skew your tasting, like wines that pair well with chocolate, or a blind wine tasting.  If you’re seeking wines that pair with a particular food, chat up an expert at your local wine shop.  To conduct a blind tasting, cover the labels and allow guests to guess which wine they’re tasting based on a series of clues.

Choose Your Wines

Your tasting party is all about enjoyment, so if there’s a rosé that you like and wish to share with your friends, add it to the list.  In order to ensure that you have a well rounded tasting, ask your local wine shop to help you select one variety from different flavor categories, such as dry, sweet, floral, fruity, and bubbly.  Five varieties is enough.

Stock the Necessary Supplies

There’s no need to overthink the supply list.  All you really need is a sufficient number of glasses, a dump bucket, food pairings, and a way for guests to make notes about their tasting.  Be sure to include palate cleansers for a quick reset between tastings, like simple crackers and water.  One wine glass per guest is enough, but two will allow tasters to compare two different wines at once.

When the countertop is cluttered with glasses, there’s no vessel better for a tasting than THIS chalk stemless glass, which tasters can personalize for easy identification.  They’re easy to clean, and seriously fun, too!

Avoid the confusion of multiple wine glasses per person with wine markers.  Don’t have a set?  No worries.  This easy DIY tutorial explains how to create these printable markers (pdf included).

Select Your Food Pairings

If you’ve decided on a food-based theme, this part is easy.  If not, cheese, olives, and crackers are popular pairings.  Experts suggest avoiding foods that are too salty or spicy (as these can affect the taste of the wine) but choose what you like.  When in doubt, ask around in your local wine shop.  Chances are, someone working there has a favorite rosé and a suggestion for what to pair it with.

Master One Simple Appetizer

There are plenty of no-cook eats that are plated and DONE.  But if you’d like to treat your guests to something homemade, master one simple bite-sized appetizer, like these Baked Brie Bites with Wine Soaked Blackberries.  They’re a cinch to prep, pair beautifully with wine, and a treat for the eyes, too.

Learn How To Set Up A Cheese Board

Wine and cheese is THE classic pairing, so there’s no better time to learn how to properly arrange a cheese board.  The easiest way to approach a simple cheese platter is to stick with three varieties – one hard, one soft, and one blue.  Chances are, you can master that without the help of a cheesemonger, and stay within your budget.  Remove your cheeses from the fridge and hour before serving so that everything reaches optimal noshing temperature, and resist the urge to dump that tasty-looking compte on top of your Brie (all condiments on the side, please).  Provide a separate knife for each cheese to prevent a messy board.  And when all else fails, remember this – no American cheese singles, and nothing artificially flavored (sorry, Buffalo).

This chic knife assortment is ideal for a three-cheese display, with blades designed for crumbling, hard, and soft varieties.  Bonus – the handy wooden storage tray flips over and doubles as a cutting board.

Learn The Art Of The Charcuterie

So, if a cheese board is a bit too vegetarian for your taste, try a charcuterie platter instead.  Like a cheese board with the protein factor turned WAY up, this savory platter is perfect for keeping wine tasters satisfied.  To assemble, start with a board, add cheese, meat, bread, and then add some edible garnish (like grapes, compote, or sour pickles).  Think two ounces of meat per person, and opt for at least three varieties – a hard salami, a paté, and something smokey (like kielbasa).

Yes, an awesome cutting board is a MUST.  This 19.5 x 12 inch wooden board is ideal for appetizer spreads.

Consider A New Recipe

Since charcuterie platters are no-cook, treat your guests to something meaty AND homemade with these Cheddar and Sausage Balls – just as delicious served hot or cold.

Include Some Real Food, Too

Appetizers are great, but since your guests will be drinking (and probably hungry) it’s a great idea to include some stick-to-your-ribs food, too.  Barbecue, pizza, burgers – something that’s crowd-pleasing and appetite crushing.  Since pizza and wine tasting parties are a thing now, we think this Homemade Margherita Pizza sounds simply perfect.

This chic flamingo plate is summer party perfection.  And the pink theme is oh-so-party appropriate.

Keep Things Casual

Before you get carried away with specialty cheeses and new glassware, remember that this is a fun night with friends.  So keep things casual, and don’t stress the small stuff, or make guests uncomfortable by setting a stuffy vibe.

Make A Playlist

What party is complete without a killer playlist?  We know you’re strapped for time, so hit up Spotify for a playlist that’s pre-themed for wine tasting (yes, they exist).

Set The Table

We’ve all seen flowers and candles – which are fab – but who wouldn’t LOVE an edible donut centerpiece?  Right – no one.

Set The Mood

No matter where your tasting is taking place (inside or out) think string lights, obvs.

ALWAYS Serve Rosé Chilled (And In Style)

Experts agree that white and rosé wines should be stored in the refrigerator, BUT this temp is much too cold for drinking.  Remove yours a few minutes prior to tasting to allow the temperature to rise a bit.  Once the desired temp is reached, it may be popped back in the fridge to prevent additional warming, or kept cool in one of these amazing DIY fruit and floral ice buckets!

Consider An Outdoor Venue

It’s summer, and that means GET OUTSIDE.  The patio, the rooftop, the backyard – whatever.  If the weather is appropriate, you can’t beat a wine tasting with friends in the fresh summer evening air.

When The Weather Is Hot, Rosé Ice Cubes

Once the tasting is over and your guests are drinking full glasses, keep wine chilled with pre-frozen rosé ice cubes.  No worries if it’s a different variety of rosé – a little blending never hurt anyone.

Get Your Cocktail On

Remember that it’s not all about straight rosé.  Mix up a delicious summertime rosé cocktail to keep things fresh and festive.  This Frozen Rosé Grapefruit Cocktail hits all the right notes.

Don’t Forget Dessert

No party – not even a wine tasting – is complete without a killer dessert.  Period.  Summertime is prime berry season, so consider a fresh summer fruit or berry pie.  Bon Appetit’s Sour Cherry Pie looks seriously tempting.

Finish your tasting party on a pink note with this glam kate spade dessert set – perfect for dishing up slices of summer berry pie.

Bonus Points for Making THIS Rosé Wine Granita

If you just can’t get enough rosé, this rosé granita is the perfect way to end a tasting.  As the recipe’s author puts it, it’s like the wine-soaked snow cone of your dreams, and we agree.

Favors Are Always Appreciated

End your bash in style.  If you’d like to send your party guests home with a little something, rosé-themed favors are easy to come by.  Consider individual mini-bottles of rosé Champagne, rosé macaroons, or bottles of Yes Way Rosé-colored nail polish.