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How to do a virtual wine tasting

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

Now that many of us are isolated, an online wine tasting can be just what the doctor ordered.

At Life in Vino, I've been holding virtual wine tastings for the past year and wanted to make some distinctions for those new to it. Note - this is different than what you may think -- it isn't an online class, not a video of experts drinking wine and not just a virtual happy hour.

Gathering people together across the world to taste wine, learn a little and chat is an incredible experience. I've used my experience of leading wine tastings for the past 20+ years and translated this to a party.

And while you may not be an expert yourself, you can create your own virtual tasting, by following these 5 Steps:

Step 1. Pick a date, time and place

This part just got easier!

Now people are much easier to schedule and I find that either a happy hour time around 5pm or after 8pm are usually good. Be considerate of your friends in different time zones, too.

As for where to gather, Zoom, Skype, google hangouts and fun apps like Houseparty all offer their own pros and cons. Go with one that will offer the least resistance to your group. I find that Houseparty is great if you are planning to have people come and go and possibly a big group.

Or Zoom is the best for more bells and whistles to your party like muting people or creating a waiting room, but it does have a 40 minute limit if you have a free account. Give any one a try.

Step 2. Invite friends

I'd recommend no more than 8 people if you want to have fluid conversations and chit chat. Or for a more structured tasting, choose a rotating host to present each time and then let people chime in with comments or questions. In that case, you can host a larger group like I do for my online tastings, where I present and other people join the chat.

Step 3. Choose a wine and snack pairings

Now we are getting to the fun part! Choose a date with enough time so everyone can have the wine shipped or delivered to them. You might choose to support one of these wineries offering deep discounts to keep their business rolling.

Since it may be tough for everyone to find a specific wine, you could also choose a grape variety and have everyone find an example. I am doing this with my Grenache tasting on April 9. Part of the fun will be seeing what each person finds and comparing our wines from around the world!

I have a whole video with wine party themes here:

And kick up your tasting another notch with a paired recipe. Some of my favorite wine friendly recipes are buttered popcorn with herbs, roasted fennel and white bean dip, and for the courageous the best croquetas.

One easy way to pair is to follow the map - think of a wine region in the world and a classic dish from the a like area like croquetas and a dry Sherry or Cava.

Step 4. Bring the party!

As the host of this online party, start by introducing everyone...just the way you would in real life. You could have each person share what wine they are drinking, their favorite region or their favorite wine of all time.

Then tell everyone why you chose the wine you did. You might even give them some fun tidbits you found in one of your online searches about wine or while watching one of my wine videos.

Ask each person to come up with one thing they like about their wine, one season it reminds them of or even one food it makes them think of - it isn't about being right or wrong, but sometimes the safety of being behind a screen let's people be adventurous!

These are trying times, so while we might be separated by technology, we are not yet robots. Take a moment to check in with everyone to make sure everyone is doing ok when you feel people are ready for it.

Step 5. Schedule the next one

Now that you've had so much fun together, find a time to do it AGAIN! You might even choose a weekly or monthly recurring time with a rotating host. Soon you'll become a wine party pro! Cheers.

If you are looking for an expert, guided experience, I offer private, customized wine tastings. Contact me for more information and pricing.



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