Hosting Your Own Vertical Wine Tasting Party

by - Thursday, May 02, 2013

Vertical wine tasting, horizontal wine tasting and blind tasting are all classic wine tasting themes. Before you decide to host a wine tasting theme, it is essential to understand the differences of each theme. After all, you want to avoid any faux pas that may make you look like an uninformed wine connoisseur.

The Skinny on Vertical, Horizontal and Blind Wine Tasting Themes

Vertical wine tasting is focused on tasting wines from the same producer. Typically, the wines are the same but from different vintages. For example, a vertical of Chateau Lynch Bages would include multiple vintages of that type and brand for comparison. It’s a fun and educational way to learn about a particular producer and vineyard style. Tasters get to compare older vintages to younger vintages. There are always distinctive characteristics that separate one vintage from another. It’s an intimate and enlightening experience where tasters also get the opportunity to discover subtle changes from one vintage to another.

On the flip side, horizontal wine tasting entails tasting wines from the same vintage. Often, these wines are usually from the same region. Wine tasting with a horizontal of 1975 red burgundies could include various red burgundies from different producers or vineyards but all from the 1975 vintage. Sampling the To-Kalon Cabernet, Oakville District Cabernet, Napa Cabernet and the Reserve Cabernet produced by Robert Mondavi in 2000 would also be horizontal wine tasting.

Blind wine tasting is a great way to level the playing field. Tasters do not know the price, producer or even the appearance of the wine bottle. Without any bias, wine tasters can give a true assessment. You’d be surprised how many times a $200 bottle of Premier Cru Bordeaux is judged as thin and lacking in complexity and flavour. Sometimes, the cheapest wine is judged the best. For sure, blind wine tasting is always full of surprises.

Hosting a Chic Vertical Wine Tasting Party

The only set rule for a vertical wine tasting party is that you serve more than one vintage of a set wine. You can even ask your guests to bring an Australian wine as a gift. Generally, a few vintages are sufficient for a party of three or four. For a larger group, you’ll want to have a range of five to 10 vintages. Keep in mind that the vintages do not have to be in a row either. A 1990, 1995 and 2000 is a perfectly good vertical.

If you’re a traditionalist, you’ll want to serve the wines in chronological order. The theory behind serving oldest to youngest is that the palate increases throughout the tasting. Just keep in mind that young wines can be powerful while older wines are mellow. If you switch it around, the young burly wines may inhibit the palate from appreciating the subtleties of the older wines. Always consider the particular wines when determining the chronological order.

Serving food with any wine tasting theme is the ideal way to keep guests sober and safe as food will absorb the alcohol. If you’re hosting a vertical wine tasting theme with red wines from Provence, you can serve up dishes with traditional southern French food. Fresh slices of mozzarella or other regional cheeses are also ideal for Italian wines. You can even get creative and mix a blind wine tasting theme with a vertical wine tasting theme. Just get creative and have fun with it!

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