Now that we’ve entered the height of summer, a backyard tasting can be a fun (and safe) way for you and your closest wine loving pals to enjoy the outdoors and try something new. Hosting a wine tasting with just you and your partner, or with your circle of ten while safely maintaining social distancing, is a fun way to spend a summer evening while breaking up the monotony of quarantine life. And best of all – you get to drink wine! We’ve come up with this easy guide to help inspire your own outdoor wine tasting, including some wine recommendations from around the world. Keep reading to learn how to host your own internationally flavoured wine tasting at home and perhaps discover the next destination to add to your wish list.
Craig Travel's International Wine Guide
Shiraz from Australia:
Shiraz is Australia’s premier grape variety and is considered by many to be the best wine produced Down Under. Shiraz is a full-bodied red with high alcohol that is peppery and deep with vibrant berry and plum flavours. For your tasting, we recommend Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz, St. Hugo Shiraz, and Battley Syrah by Russell Bourne. CLICK HERE to learn more about our upcoming February 2022 Australia and New Zealand tour.
Malbec from Argentina and Chile:
With declining acreage of Malbec in France, this grape variety has become so popular in Argentina and Chile that its considered the national variety. This full-bodied red offers nuanced flavours of blackberry, plum and black cherry, with a chocolate and sweet tobacco finish. For your tasting, we recommend Zolo Reserve Estate Grown Malbec, Rutini Encuentro Malbec, and La Posta Fazzio Malbec. CLICK HERE to learn more about our upcoming February 2023 Sublime South America cruise.
Riesling from Germany:
Riesling is without a doubt Germany’s favourite variety of grape and is widely planted throughout the country. Riesling originatied in the Rhine region of Germany, and is a sweet, viscous white, with hints of tropical fruits, nectarine, melon and pineapple. For your tasting, we recommend August Kesseler Lorchhause Seligmacher Riesling, Dr. Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Dry Riesling, and Dr. H. Thanish Berncasteler Lay Riesling. CLICK HERE to learn more about our upcoming 2022 Oberammergau journeys featuring the Passion Play in Bavaria.
Chenin Blanc from South Africa:
Representing 18% of the country’s total winery acreage, Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most popular wine variety. This white grape variety is known for producing wines that have notes of peach, honey, and apple that pair well with spicy foods. For your tasting, we recommend Raats Family Original Unwooded Chenin Blanc, MAN Vitners Cuvee V Chenin Blanc, and Spier Chenin Blanc. CLICK HERE to learn more about our upcoming February 2022 South Africa tour.
Sake from Japan:
Throw in a curve ball in your tasting by including a Sake from Japan. Although the process of its production is more similar to the brewing of beer than the fermentation of wine, it’s a fun addition that’s sure to spice things up. Rice wine is noted for its savoury flavour, and can have many different tasting notes such as fruits, flowers, herbs and spices. For your tasting, we recommend Sohomar – Karakuchi Junmai, Dewazakura – Oka Cherry Bouquest, and Gassan Shuzo – Gassan No Yuki Junmai Ginjo. CLICK HERE to learn more about our upcoming March 2022 Japan tour.
How to Have Your Own Wine Tasting at Home
Choose a theme:
There is a whole world of wine out there, so it can be daunting to decide on the selection for your wine tasting. Picking a theme is a great way to narrow down your choices. Some different theme ideas include sticking to one variety, such as Port or Champagne, or selecting a specific wine region like classic European reds, or having all of the wines be from a specific year. We’re a fan of a wide array of international flavours, and we’ve compiled the list above from some of the best regions in the world to help get you started.
Gather your supplies:
An easy way to spread out the cost of your tasting is to limit the number of wines to only three to five bottles, and if you’re inviting friends and family, ask your guests to bring a bottle. It can also help to ask others to bring their own wine glasses in case you don’t have enough to share, and to reduce the clean-up. Once you have the bottles, it’s best to serve the wines “blind” by wrapping the bottles in parchment paper and clearly labelling them from A, B, C, etc. This allows everyone to really focus on the wine itself, and not on the wine’s reputation.
Explain the rules:
Before the tasting begins, explain to everyone the theme, and provide pens and paper for everyone to take notes. Instruct everyone to smell the wine before tasting, and to write down anything they notice such as any flavours or aromas that come to mind, the texture and weight of the wine, which flavours either balance or dominate the wine, and the wine’s finish.
Don’t forget the nibbles:
Wine tasting is hungry work! It’s a good idea to have some snacks to share throughout the course of the tasting to keep everyone satiated and cleanse the palate. Some easy appetizers include melon wrapped in prosciutto, a cheese platter, olives, crackers and pâté, a light fruit salad, and even some chocolate.
Enjoy the wine:
After tasting each wine and recording your notes, feel free to discuss each others findings before moving onto the next selection, but don’t reveal the wine until the end of the tasting. Have everyone share what their favourite wine is, and what style of wine they believe they are tasting before revealing each bottle one by one. Do the wine’s match up to everyone’s expectations? Did the famous brands and more expensive wines live up to their reputations? The results may surprise you all!