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wine pairing dinner

How To Host A Wine Pairing Dinner

Entertaining guests is rewarding—you get to be the host, a wholesome role. However, planning a party can also be stressful, especially if you want everything to run smoothly. Wine pairing dinners are particularly complicated, as you must choose the food and the wine, and they must pair well.

If you want to learn how to host a wine-pairing party, we have some tips. You’ll have as much fun as your guests, and everyone will end up feeling more connected with wine than ever.

Table of Contents

What Is A Wine Pairing Dinner?

No two wine pairing dinners are the same, and there are no hard rules but one: to create a fun environment where people learn more about the romantic relationship between wine and food.

A wine pairing dinner can consist of a few courses, or several small plates, each paired with a specific wine. There is no limit to the number of dishes and wines, but more options mean more work—especially if you are the host.

The first thing to consider when planning a wine pairing dinner is if you’re highlighting the food or the wine. Although the right pairings make both look good, choosing the right wines for a menu and choosing the right food for specific wine are not the same—one plays the leading role, and the other is a supporting actor, and you get to choose which is which.

Put together a menu, ideally with a starter, entrée, and dessert. Or go crazy with a multi-course dinner if you can manage it. You’ll then have to choose the right wine for each course.

Serve white wine before red and dry wine before sweet styles. Serve young wine before aged wine and uncomplicated wine before complex, well-cellared bottles. It makes sense, as you’d do the same with food; don’t serve the lamb before the salad!

White wine is generally suitable for vegetable-based dishes and seafood. In contrast, red wine pairs best with red meat. Full-bodied wine is preferred for hearty dishes, and light-bodied, uncomplicated wines will pair better with light and simple meals.

wine pairing dinner menu

What Do I Need To Host A Wine Pairing Dinner?

For wine pairing dinners, preparation is critical. Ensure you have enough wine glasses for each guest and wine being served, and have the wine ready at the right temperature.

Have a carafe on hand for water and a decanter if you’re serving red wine. Decanters aerate the wine and add flair to the experience. You’ll also need ice buckets if you’re serving white, rosé, or sparkling wine, and wine glasses for every wine style. Remember that different types of stemware are best suited to different wines.

List the items you need and cross out what you already have. The cutlery, the water glasses, assorted cutting boards for serving, etc. Write down everything, and there won’t be surprises during the event.

hosting wine pairing dinner

Tips For A Successful Wine Pairing Dinner Party

  • Taste your wine and food combinations beforehand. Ensure the pairings work, and tweak the recipes or change the wine if necessary.
  • Serve half-pours, especially if you’re opening several bottles during the evening. 2-3 ounces of wine per course per person are enough for a wine-pairing dinner.
  • Pair the same wine with more than one course if the pairings work, saving time, wine glasses, and effort. Of course, variety keeps things interesting.
  • Ask guests about food allergies and preferences, and consider their wine knowledge to ensure the wine selection is at the right level.
  • Wine-pairing dinners are not necessarily formal occasions. Keep it casual and serve comfort food with easy-to-drink wines for a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Have non-alcoholic options and plenty of water to ensure everyone is comfortable and safe.
  • Learn a little about the wine you’re serving so that you can briefly explain it, making the experience more educational.
  • Have fun, and don’t overthink it. To some extent, wine and food pairings are subjective, so choose the wine and food you enjoy and share the experience with your guests. 
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