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    Ultimate Guide to Hosting an English Wine Tasting Party at Home

    English Wine 7th December 2023
    people toasting with red wine glasses

    If you’ve ever been to a wine tasting at a shop or wine warehouse, you’ll know they can be really informative. However, you might feel pressure to buy wines at the end of the event. A fun alternative is to organise your own wine tasting at home. Choose a selection of quality wines you’ve always wanted to try, or invite your friends to bring along some of their favourites.

    Choose English Wines for Your Wine Tasting Party

    Why not set a theme for your home wine tasting party? It’s not only great fun, but also a unique way to explore different wines. We recommend selecting a diverse range of English wines for your event.

    Here are our top tips for making your English wine tasting party a memorable experience for your guests – with the minimum of effort for you.

    How to Set Up for an English Wine Tasting Party at Home

    Since we use all our senses when learning how to taste wine, the setting for your wine-tasting party needs a bit of planning.

    Firstly, choose a comfortably-lit room, bright enough for your guests to read the wine labels and make notes. Candles create a cosy atmosphere, but avoid scented ones as this can affect how you perceive the flavour of the wines you are tasting.

    Quality wine glasses are a must, and while they don’t all have to match, it’s better if they are made from finer rather than chunkier glass – and no plastic, please! Using the same glass for each wine to be sampled is okay, but rinse them between tastings.

    Next, have water and a bland palate-cleansing snack such as plain crackers for your guests to reset their tastebuds between samplings and individual cups to use as spittoons if they wish.

    A standard tasting serving is about half the size of a regular small glass of wine, at around 75ml, which means a bottle of wine will do about 10 wine-tasting servings.

    Finally, make sure you get the temperature of your English wines right. As a general rule of thumb, the ideal drinking temperature for red wines is between 12˚C and 18˚C, white wine is 8˚C to 12˚C, and Champagne and dessert wine is between 5˚C and 7˚C.

    How to Taste English Wines

    Setting Up the Tasting Order

    Line up your English wines in tasting order, starting with whites and moving to reds, progressing from lightest to heaviest and driest to sweetest.

    Observing the Wine’s Appearance

    Hand out pens and paper and encourage your friends to make notes as they go, focusing on the appearance of the wine, its smell, and taste. You could also tell them a bit about each wine – where it has come from, any notes from the winemaker on the winemaking process, and recommendations for what food pairings.

    Encourage your guests to notice the colour of the wine and its viscosity. Does it stick to the side of the glass if you give it a gentle swirl – the fuller-bodied and the higher the alcohol content, the more of these ‘legs’ it will leave inside the glass.

    Identifying Aromas: Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary

    Ask your guests to swirl again, putting their noses inside the glass for a good sniff, and note what aromas they pick. Wine experts say there are three different smells to look out for:

    Primary aromas are connected to the grape variety used in the wine and, on first sniff, may come across as floral, fruity or perhaps spicy.

    Secondary aromas come from the winemaking processes, such as ‘oak’ from wine aged in oak barrels, and a ‘buttery’ aroma from wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation, a process that can reduce acidity.

    Tertiary aromas happen when wine is left to age in the bottle, resulting in a range of aromas often described as like honey, leather, truffle, marzipan or even coconut.

    The Tasting Process: Sip, Savour, and Note

    Once the sniffing has finished, it’s time to drink. Politeness is not the thing here, so encourage your friends to take a generous, slurpy sip of the wine they are trying, holding it in their mouth and coating their tongue to get the full benefit of the flavour.

    At this stage in the wine tasting, points to note down are:

    Texture: Is the wine dry or a kind of ‘sharp’ feeling on the tongue?

    Sweetness or acidity: Is it sweet tasting or more sour and acidic?

    To help your guests remember what they’ve tasted and work out what they like best, you could create a wine-tasting scorecard incorporating all the above points or simply get them to rank the wines they have tasted based on the notes they have taken during the evening.

    English Wine Recommendations for Hosting a Wine Tasting Party at Home

    Here at Lyme Bay Winery, we specialise in making award-winning still and sparkling English wines using the best grapes from the best vineyards across England, so we can definitely recommend some stunning English wine choices to try at your next wine tasting party.

    Lyme Bay Winery Brut Reserve Sparkling NV

    If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to start your wine party with a pop, and our Lyme Bay Winery Brut Reserve Sparkling NV is just the ticket.

    APPEARANCE: Delicate mousse, pale lemon in colour.

    NOSE: Clean, vibrant and bursting with lemon, green apples and freshly cut grass.

    PALATE: Excellent depth of flavour with tantalising acidity and length, giving way to citrus and toast flavours.

    FOOD PAIRING: Pairs beautifully with fresh seafood. Or, for a simple wine and cheese tasting at home, try soft textured cheeses like Brie, which goes well with English sparkling wines.

    Lyme Bay Winery Shoreline 2022

    Next, we recommend our Lyme Bay Winery Shoreline 2022, a fresh, quintessentially English dry white wine made from Reichensteiner, Bacchus, Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc, Ortega, Pinot Noir and Solaris grape varieties.

    APPEARANCE: Clear, pale lemon in colour.

    NOSE: A complex floral nose with hints of pineapple and lime.

    PALATE: Well-balanced with crisp acidity bright flavours of lemon and lime, with a background of nettle and herbaceous notes.

    FOOD PAIRING: Another excellent match for seafood or Camembert cheese.

    Lyme Bay Winery Bacchus Block 2022

    It is time to step up a gear to Lyme Bay Winery Bacchus Block 2022, an aromatic dry white wine made from 100% Bacchus grapes selected from our growers in Essex. These grapes showed exceptional quality and ripeness on arrival at the Winery and were separated as a premium offering by our winemaking team.

    APPEARANCE: Clear, pale lemon in colour.

    NOSE: Intense, with layers of gooseberry, pineapple, blackcurrant leaf and lime.

    PALATE: Beautifully balanced with tropical fruit notes, blackcurrant leaf and a smooth mouthfeel.

    FOOD PAIRING: A perfect accompaniment to a fragrant broad bean salad, asparagus or even Chinese food. Bacchus goes well with various cheeses from Brie to Gouda or a crunchy West Country Cheddar.

    Lyme Bay Winery Pinot Noir 2021

    And now, onto a red wine. Our Lyme Bay Winery Pinot Noir 2021 is an elegant, refined, complex red aged 32% new oak.

    APPEARANCE: Bright cherry red.

    NOSE: Vibrant red fruit with smoky, vanilla oak and mild tobacco undertones.

    PALATE: Cherry, raspberry and redcurrant with a hint of mulberry. A touch of savoury spice and smoke finish off the rounded palate.

    FOOD PAIRING: Perfect with pork, game dishes, beef bourguignon, or roast beef. Cheese-wise, the nutty flavours of Gruyere are a brilliant match for Pinot Noir.

    Lyme Bay Winery Pinot Noir Rosé 2022

    To finish, our Lyme Bay Winery Pinot Noir Rosé 2022 is fermented in stainless steel to preserve the delicate fruit characteristics.

    PALATE: Bursting with sweet, red summer berries, a twist of orange and a fresh, lingering finish.

    FOOD PAIRING: Well known as an accompaniment to seafood dishes, we think rosé also makes a perfect match for roast lamb, but why not try it at dessert with simple vanilla ice cream or a light citrus sorbet?

    Once you’ve finished tasting, find out which wine was everyone’s favourite and why, and don’t forget to top up the scores and choose the ‘wine of the evening’. You never know – holding a wine-tasting party at home could open up a whole new world of types of wine even you didn’t know you liked!

    Order English Wine for Next-Day Despatch

    If this has inspired you to host your own English wine-tasting party, we welcome customers at our Cellar Door here in Shute, near Axminster in Devon, so pop in for a browse – we’re open every day.
    Alternatively, get in touch with our friendly Winery team via email at [email protected] or by calling 01297 551355 if you’d like to order by phone. Order before 2pm for despatch the next working day – with free delivery for all orders over £55 and a 5% discount on all orders over £150.

    Find Out More About English Wines

    Do you love English still and sparkling wines but need help figuring out where to start? Discover more about English wines by reading our Quick Guide to English Wine.

    You can also find Lyme Bay Winery on Instagram, X (Twitter) and Facebook, so be sure to follow us for updates, offers and competitions.

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