I know you think you’re already wine tasting at home.
But let’s be real. Pouring the left overs of last night’s bottle into a glass and then opening up another bottle and having a glass of something different does not exactly count as wine tasting.
Not that I’m judging because hey, that’s what I call a Tuesday.
Some nights a glass of cheap red straight outta the bottle is just what the doctor ordered, especially those days when you come home after a rough day at work and immediately throw on those sweatpants with the hole in the crotch (You know the ones. We all have ‘em. No shame here.)
But seriously, people, this wine tasting is for date night and this DR is ordering a little extra class. (Get it? My initials are DR, so like all those shirts say, Trust Me. I’m a DR.)
So in honor of date night at home, we’re bringing a little extra luxury in the way we indulge in our libations tonight. And damnit, we’re doing this the proper way!
Now, I know when you’re out at those fancy wineries, you’re guzzling glasses from a multitude of grape varieties. But that is totally not necessary for a wine tasting evening at home. One (or two) bottles max is enough wine tasting to last a whole date night discussion.
The key to a fun, unique $20 Date is first, keeping costs low (obvi). Secondly, keeping it simple! The best dates are the ones that have some thought behind them, and the simpler it is to plan, the less thinking you have to do. And thinking is genuinely hard sometimes after a brutal shift at the old 9-5.
All you need to succeed on this date night in is an unopened bottle of a wine you’ve never tried, two clean wine glasses, and a pen and paper.
One of the most important parts of wine tasting on date night (especially you if buy wine as often as I do) is to take notes. Grab a pen now. Seriously.
I hate when I open a bottle and make barf noises because it tastes gross, only to look in my trash and see that I purchased that same nasty bottle last week. If you take notes as you taste (and before you get drunk), you’ll remember what you liked and what you didn’t. Ultimately for me, it just comes down to whether or not I thought the wine was worth the $$$ I spent on it.
You can download my FREE wine tasting notes sheet HERE. I use this to remember what I liked and what I didn’t about each wine I drink (and if the bottle was really worth the money).
So prepare your palate and let’s get down to some planning your wine tasting night in.
Step 1: Wine Tasting Preparations
Buy a bottle of cheap red. Or white. Or both! But if you go for the gold and get a few bottles, make sure you taste from light to dark, white to red. White wines have these sissy light flavors which can be easily overwhelmed by the deep, bold flavors of red wines.
If you’re wine tasting white, all right! You can skip to Step 3. If you’re poppin’ reds, go to Step 2.
Step 2: Decant Your Red Wine
Alright, Bob Marley. Red, red wine will make you feel so fine, but it will only taste fine too if you decant it properly. The basics of decanting are super easy. You just pour it in, swirl it around and let it sit and open up for a bit. If you don’t have a decanter, you can find aerators for super cheap that will work just fine.
If you want to get a little geeky and learn more about the proper skills to decant prior to wine tasting, check out my simple step by step process on How-To decant cheap wines to make them taste better HERE.
Step 3: Chill out.
Prepare for a double meaning! First, decanting might take a while, depending on the wine, so take a chill pill and relax. Take this time to prepare a cheese platter or other small bites to pair with the wine.
Second, chill the wine.
FREEZE RIGHT THERE. CHILL THE RED WINE?
Yes. I always thought red wine should be served at room temp, but surprise, surprise, I was doing it wrong, and you might be too. Red wine should be served slightly warmer than white wine and slightly cooler than room temperature.
To achieve this, you could spend a lot of money on a wine fridge, or… you could take my easy way out and spend a couple bucks on one of these bad boys which will do the same thing.
Step 4: Prepare a Proper Wine Glass – With a Stem
Believe it or not, the type of glass you serve your wine in does matter! I just thought it was to be fancy, but as it turns out, wine glasses are specifically made to allow the aromas to aerate and enhance the flavor.
I used to be one of those gals grasping their glass with both hands… or worse, holding it like a goblet with the stem between my fingers.
This is bad. REAL BAD. Your hand heats the glass, warming the liquid and changing the flavor. The only thing worse to me than a bad chardonnay is a warm chardonnay, am I right? Gross.
Keep your cool and hold the glass by the stem. Pinky out, fancy pants. (Just kidding).
Step 5: MOST IMPORTANT STEP. POUR THE WINE.
Don’t forget this one. Just about an inch in each glass is good to start for tasting. You can drink the rest later when you wanna get crunk and don’t need your mental faculties to take notes.
Step 6: Use your eyes.
Wine tasting uses ALL YOUR SENSES. Can you name all 5? Are YOU smarter than a 5th grader?
Ok, I lied, it uses 3. Sight, smell and taste. Touch is for later, if you’re lucky (or get lucky).
Look at the wine. Tilt it around in the glass. What color is it? Write it down on your wine notes (which you clearly already downloaded.)
Step 7: Swirl and Waft
You know you’ve mocked this a thousand times, swirling the glass, then sticking up your nose and wafting in the scent of wine like a hoity toity sommelier. “A hint of vanilla perhaps?”
But the jokes on you, bro. You got this step right!
Swirl your glass for 10-20 seconds to allow the wine aromas to permeate throughout the glass. Observe how the wine runs down the glass. This can help you determine the body of the wine.
I once heard wines with higher alcohol content runs more slowly down the sides (and alcohol percentage is one of the things I care about most).
Tilt the glass towards your nose and inhale. Take notes on the scents you get. Write them down. If you finish this bottle, that might be the only way you remember this.
Step 8: Sip. Taste. Discuss.
Now we’re getting to the fun part. The drinking. Take small sips and let the flavors wash over your tongue.
My favorite part of this step is the discussions I have with my date about what we each taste. Don’t be embarrassed to say whatever flavors you sense! Despite what you may have heard, there are NO WRONG FLAVORS. It’s just whatever you taste.
A wine major once told me this tidbit, and I don’t think a guy who spent $50k of debt for a degree in wine tasting can really afford to be wrong.
At this point, you can either spit or swallow the wine. Insert awkward sexual joke here, but we all know I’m not about to spit it out. Waste not, want not.
Would you try wine tasting at home for date night? Whether you think this date idea’s glass is half empty or half full, one things for sure… there is clearly room for more wine in it!