DIY Easy & Cheap Wine Tasting
Last week, I hosted a fabulously fun wine tasting party with a bunch of girlfriends. We enjoyed good food, delicious wines, and lots of laughs, and it was a really creative, tasty way to toast Valentine’s Day early in the company of friends!
See, it all started with this innocent little photo from Pinterest, which inspired my idea. An entire wine tasting atop a homemade chalkboard – brilliant, beautiful and bountiful with all that yummy food and wine!
It took a whole lazy Sunday afternoon, but by party time the board was complete. All it took was a large piece of plywood, a jigsaw to cut it to the desired shape, a pot of chalkboard paint, and some cheapo chalk. The whole project cost under 20 bucks!
So, let’s just jump right in. First, some tips on how to do this on the cheap:
- Most grocery stores have 10% off deals for purchases of 6 or more wines, so plan on serving 5-6 wines and scout your stores.
- Since there will be plenty to taste and try, not every dish has to be homemade.
- Store brand block cheeses and bite-sized chocolate candies work fine in lieu of more expensive options.
- Consider asking your friends to contribute some of your planned food or wines, once you’re certain of pairings.
- If you need more wine glasses, shop deep discounts at stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx or Home Goods. Also search thrift stores for an eclectic mix. I offered plastic cups on the table for quick tastings, then wine glasses on a separate table for guests who wanted a full glass.
Also consider going along with a subtle theme to make the party feel more festive. In this case, I wanted to set a cute and casual scene, so I strung up this heart garland (snagged the hearts from Target’s dollar bin), lit lots of candles, and turned on some slow, jazzy tunes.
One thing that keeps party planning easy is deciding what serving dishes you’ll use days ahead of time, and then dotting them all with Post-It reminders so you don’t forget what goes where!
A little wine glass station is also helpful for your guests to just grab and start pouring, instead of having to ask or search around.
I had high hopes to make a homemade pizza, but with everything else to consider it just didn’t happen. So, I served two of these very tasty Mediterranean vegetable pizzas from Target’s organic Archer Farms brand, which paired well with a red Shiraz. Everyone loved them, and I loved the $4.99 price tag!
I also grabbed a $1 artisan baguette, a small package of genoa salami, and a block of fresh Parmesan to make these simple, flavorful crostini! So nice with a light, crisp Pinot Grigio.
In addition to fresh peaches and bowls of good-quality dark and white chocolates, I served a tray of cubed asiago and cheddar cheeses, and this crab-artichoke dip with buttery crackers which was a big hit with the white wines!
For place cards, I just resized a Word document to the shape of some 3.5” x 5” notecards and printed out the name of each dish, with suggested pairings below. The arrows pointing from the wines to each dish also made the pairings pretty clear.
If you’re interested in hosting a similar wine tasting party, whether for Valentine’s Day or another toast-able occasion, I hope these photos and ideas were inspiring to you. Also check out Hello Vino for lots of helpful pairing ideas. You can view my entire menu, along with more suggested pairings for each wine, by clicking below.
(Medium to full bodied, with rich flavors of blackberry, clove, dark chocolate and smoked meat)
Pizza with mascarpone, red peppers, spinach and sundried tomatoes
Cheddar and asiago cheese
Other pairing ideas – Smoked meats, semisweet chocolate, spicy soup
(Flavors of red berries, plums, cherries and earthy, wood-like aromas)
Other pairing ideas – Monterey jack, chocolate-peanut dessert, scalloped potatoes
(Light and dry, with very little sugar and a refreshing, crisp citrus finish)
Other pairing ideas – Mozzarella cheese, shrimp, Greek salad
(Buttery oak overtones and fresh, fruity flavors of apple, citrus and pear)
Other pairing ideas – Vanilla cake, sushi, pasta salad
(Slightly sweet and fruity, with a tart yet musky aroma)
Crab artichoke dip
Other pairing ideas – Gorgonzola, charcuterie, sugar or gingerbread cookies