Wine Tasting Party Ideas – Plus Brussels Sprouts Salad

Wine Tasting Party Ideas – Plus Brussels Sprouts Salad

It’s always a good time for wine, right? Add a little wine tasting into your next party to spice things up a bit! Sarah Weber is back with more great party ideas! This time we’ll talk about incorporating a wine tasting into your next affair. Plus she shares a great Brussels Sprouts Salad recipe to nibble on between wines. So pour yourself a glass, sit back, and let Sarah inspire your next party!

Need to spruce up that dinner party or gathering with friends? Add a wine tasting! Friendly competition over who can guess the most varietals correctly adds fun to your usual gatherings, and you might discover a new must-have wine for your collection!

Here are some ideas for wine tasting games my friends and I have played.

There are several ways to structure a wine tasting — taste multiple wines from the same region or country, taste local wines if you have vineyards nearby, or taste only reds or whites. I live in an area with several local wineries, and it’s always fun to share new vintages and seasonal varietals, especially once the wineries close after the summer season and I can’t spend my nights there. One note about selecting wines for your tasting party — stick to wines that are similar on the dry-to-sweet spectrum, or serve them in order of dry to sweet. It’s very disconcerting to taste a fantastic sweet white wine, and then suddenly assault your taste-buds with a full-bodied red. Trust me.

Wine TastingFirst off, drinkware! Each guest should have a wineglass easily distinguished from everyone else’s. This can easily be done with wine charms, patterned glasses, or decorated wineglasses. There is special paint designed to paint glass that you can pick up at a craft store, but I’ve also used puffy paint. Personalize your guests’ glasses to use as a party favor. As long as you’re not painting the inside of the glass, you’re safe. If you have a guest or two who are SERIOUSLY into wine and need a handicap, look for tinted wine glasses to try and even the playing field. I have read that it’s not recommended to use stemless wineglasses because the heat of your hand could affect the temperature or taste of the wine. Depending on how much of a wine enthusiast you are, take this rule into account. Personally, I like stemless glasses because I’m less likely to tip them over and spill red wine on my carpet.

So once you have drinkware and an idea of how to structure your tasting, what happens next? You need wine tasting games! A blind tasting is a fun way to try new wines without your perception being affected by the label or varietal of wine you’re trying. If you don’t usually like merlots, you might be surprised to find you actually enjoy merlot when you haven’t seen the bottle first. Wines can be poured by a third party in another room (give a designated driver, non-drinking, or non-wine drinking friend a job so they don’t feel left out) and placed on numbered trays, or bottles can be placed in numbered paper bags for people to serve themselves.

Wine Tasting

See which of your guests can correctly identify the most wines in your tasting. Another fun twist is to check out the tasting notes most wines have printed on the bottle. If your red wine claims to have notes of cherry, for example, have fresh or dried cherries on hand (or a cherry dessert). Sample the tasting note foods while tasting your wine to see how it changes the way the wine tastes. Fun wine tasting fact? If you’ve ever heard someone comment that a wine has “legs” and want to know what that’s about, tilt your wineglass. When you straighten it, you might see a clear, blurry trail of wine that is sticking to the side of your glass, running down slowly like rain down a windowpane. Those are “legs” and refer to the alcohol content of your wine.

And if you need a side dish to nibble between wine tastings? I have just the thing. I modified this recipe by using almonds instead of walnuts and adding bacon. This is totally better the second day, so feel free to make this the night before, and make extra!

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Bacon

Ingredients:Wine Tasting

2 lbs. Brussels sprouts
½ cup Almonds
1 cup Pecorino, grated or crumbled
1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp whole-grain mustard
1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pound bacon

-First, preheat your oven to make your bacon and toast your almonds (if they’re raw like mine were). I laid out my bacon on a baking sheet while the oven preheated to 375°F. Eight minutes was a HAIR too long for my almonds, which got a little more brown than toasted, so keep an eye on those while you prep the next step. You want your bacon to come out a little more crispy than usual so it will hold up to the salad with its dressing.

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-While your bacon and almonds are cooking, start your brussels sprouts. This is by far the most tedious part of prepping this salad, so put some music on and jam out while you’re doing this! Rinse and dry your sprouts, then trim the woody base/ends off. This will loosen up the outer leaves, which may have some stubborn dirt on them. Since we’re not cooking these, it’s important to get rid of any leaves that look battered or grimy. Once those have been stripped off, slice each baby cabbage as thinly as you can. The original recipe instructs you to separate each layer as you add them to your bowl, but if you throw them in as slices and occasionally fluff/smoosh them, I won’t tell anyone.Wine Tasting

-Grate your cheese. Feel free to add more or less to your taste- I added much more, being a fan of punch-you-in-the-mouth FLAVOR. Asiago would also make a good cheese for this salad if you can’t find pecorino, or if that’s more expensive than you’d prefer. Toss it in the bowl

-Once your almonds are cool, rough chop them. Toss them in the bowl

-Once your bacon is cool, towel it off with paper towels to help absorb the grease, then rough chop it. Toss it in the bowl.

-Finally, we’ll make the dressing. Squeeze someWine Tasting mustard into a large, empty bowl. Add lemon juice and whisk them together. While whisking with one hand, pour a slow stream of olive oil into your bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

-Pour your dressing over your salad, and toss it together. If it doesn’t seem like enough dressing, whisk some more together and pour it over. This salad is rather thirsty, and likes to absorb dressing, but don’t be afraid to make too little the first time. You can always mix up more and add it. Now toss this all gently together, and put in the fridge overnight.


Printer friendly recipe: Brussels Sprouts Salad with Bacon

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