Getting started
First of all, select and buy your wines (these can be your own personal preferences or some bottles you’ve never tried before). You can use our list of wine choices for inspiration or as a guide in choosing bottles.

What you will need:
 

  • A good table
  • A spittoon (optional)
  • Paper, pens and a tasting sheet
  • At least 1 International Tasting glass per person
  • Water and water glasses
  • Water biscuits (for between wines)
  • Wine

Refrigerate them if necessary. Sparkling and white wines should be refrigerated, but not for too long. Allow refrigerated wines a little time out of the fridge to warm as most refrigerators aretoo cold for wines (aim to serve them at around 10-14C). Reds should be stored in a cool cellar (ideally) and served just below room temperature (aim for 18C).  


Types of wine tasting
There are several different ways of organising a wine tasting and these will affect the wines you buy:
  
COMPARATIVE TASTING
This is a tasting in which you and your guests taste three or more examples of a particular grape cultivar, style of wine (blends), etc.

example: A tasting of 3 wines of Cabernet Sauvignon of the same vintage (year on bottle) from different farms within a chosen region (Stellenbosch), from various regions (Stellenbosch vs. Constantia), or from different countries (South Africa vs. Chile).

 

TASTING BY VARIETIES
This is a mix of grape varieties, vintages and styles, starting with the whites and ending with the reds, going from the least powerful grape to the more perfumed and full-bodied, and going from the youngest to the oldest vintage.

 

HORIZONTAL AND VERTICAL TASTINGS
These are at the more professional (and therefore more costly) end of the spectrum.
a) A horizontal tasting compares wines from a specific region and vintage.
b) A vertical tasting compares the wines of one estate or producer. This will show the evolution of the wine and the effect different growing conditions have on the production
of a wine. 

 

BLIND TASTING
It is always more interesting to serve wine blind. Not only does covering the bottle remove any prejudice attached to a particular wine, it also allows beginners, amateurs and experts alike the chance to rate the wine on a level playing field – that of pure taste.This gives beginners more confidence to analyse a wine in the company of others.
You can cover the bottle with a small opaque bag or pre-pour the glasses before your friends arrive. Obviously, pre-pouring will change the temperature of the wine if it sits in the glass for an extended period of time.