Talking about the wine -- and then seeing where the conversation takes you -- is the essence of a wine-tasting party. However, it's the area in which novices feel most adrift. Here are a couple of ways to get the conversation started:
- Give guests a list of smell and taste words that are often attributed to wine. Include words such as "fruity," "vegetative," "nutty," "woody," and "pungent," along with descriptive qualities of each. Check out the Wine Lovers Page for a full range of information, from a wine-tasting course to reports on wines around the world.
- Have tasters mention whether the wine recalls another wine they've had in the past -- or even another drink or food. Ask associative questions, such as: Does the wine recall fruit? Does it have a chocolaty quality?
- Make your guests feel at ease about wine jargon. Wine-tasting parties should be for pleasure, not for testing erudition. After all, the best wine is "the one you like best."
Continued on page 6: What to Eat