Recently we threw a blind tasting Brown Bag Wine Party. Not only was it incredibly effortless to host, but one of our more entertaining shindigs. Follow these simple steps on how to throw an easy brown bag wine party and you’ll be on your way to kicking back at your own party.
How To Throw an Easy Brown Bag Wine Party:
1. IF YOU BUILD IT THEY WILL COME
Be clear on the party invites what you’ll be providing and what you’d like your guests to bring. Our brown bag wine party fell on Cinco de Mayo, so we went the theme Cinco de Wino. Guests were asked to bring a gourmet Mexican side dish and a bottle of their favorite wine, disguised in a brown paper bag. I provided the main dish, an outstanding recipe for Veracruz Style Fish and an equally delicious Addictive Shrimp Avocado Salsa.
2. DON’T LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT
Now’s the time to do the behind the scenes work. Before the party, I collected extra brown paper wine bags in case any guests forgot to bring their bottles “disguised.” Also, to ensure highly secure impartiality, I bought some cute twine to tie the wine bags. If you don’t have a lot of glassware, you’ll probably want to buy some disposable wine glasses also.
Perhaps you are so on the ball, you have extra time to spare for some arts and crafts? During my vast amounts of free time I cut circles out of wrapping paper to print letters on. The guests rate the wines using numbers, so labeling the bags with letters avoids confusion. (Since a fundamental aspect of the party is ingesting lots of wine, avoiding confusion is crucial) If I lost you at spare time, or even arts and crafts, you can also just write a letter directly on the bag as they arrive.
Before the party you may also want to pick up some prizes to reward the guests who received the most votes. I went with thematic prizes, like these hilarious drink markers and traveling wine tumblers.
3. YOU’VE GOT THIS IN THE BAG
Just because it’s your party doesn’t mean you can’t throw a hat in the ring too. When it came to choosing our own brown bag wine, we went with a personal favorite we have a special connection with.
Years ago Ryan and I went on a BabyMoon, but not the anticipating-new-baby kind. Rather, it was a make-a-break-for-it trip. We desperately needed an escape after having a baby. What better place than Sonoma, where dragging a child along to all-day wine tastings could be legitimately chastised?
Our hands were tied. Baby needed to stay back with grandparents.
The trip flew by in a whirlwind of tasting rooms. Each stop offered a different ambiance, energy, and caliber of wines. Whether we left the winery with a bottle gauged how favorable our tasting experience was. Our suitcase took a big hit when we stepped out of Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards.
Gloria Ferrer was the founding winery in Sonoma Carneros to offer sparkling wine, and the first to bring back clones from France to plant in their vineyards. Gloria Ferrer’s Blanc de Blanc initiated my affinity for sparkling wines, which we sipped on the winery’s grand stone terrace, overlooking the vineyards and soaking up the California fall sun. This unforgettable experience liberated us from our new normal of overwhelming fatigue and mandatory sobriety.
We ended up collecting the most votes at our wine party for the Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé, but graciously coughed up the prizes to the runner-ups. It didn’t hurt Gloria Ferrer wines have earned over 500 gold medals and 50 90+ scores in the last 5 years. Like I said, in the bag.
4. PUT ON YOUR GAME FACE
Once party day arrives, it’s time for some last minute preparations. Set up your supplies, like wine openers and plenty of glassware. To ensure the party wheel’s don’t fall off set out a spit/dump bucket, lots of accessible water pitchers, and snacks.
Inevitably things will get a little hazy tasting all those wines. Set out notepads for taking notes, rating, and remembering the wines. You’re welcome to print out and use these basic wine tasting note sheets I made.
5. DON’T THROW THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATH WATER
I’ll leave you with a final piece of advice I wish someone gave us. After tallying the votes, don’t toss aside the bags identifying which letter corresponded with which bottle. Chances are great your guests will want to identity their favorite tastings. At this point they probably won’t have it in them to go back, retry them all, and figure it out. Save yourself from an avoidable debacle with a bunch of unruly, buzzed-up party guests.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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