do :: DIY Wine Tasting


Celebrate Valentine's Day with your own wine tasting! Host a private party with your main squeeze or gather with your girlfriends for some highly refined fun. Make it as fancy or simple as you want following this easy guide.

How do you choose the wines to sample?

Get 5 or 6 wines that follow a theme. Perhaps you sample whites and reds from Italy in honour of the trip you took there last year. Or, try pinot noirs from 6 different regions. Or, just pick up bottles that you've never tried before.

How do you sample wine?

The logistics:

  • Whether it's only reds or a mix of red and white, serve them lightest to darkest in colour/flavour.
  • Sample about 1oz at a time.
  • Chill reds for 15-20 min in the fridge before serving. Serve whites fresh out of the fridge.
  • Use one glass the whole time, and don't rinse with water in between. Swish the next wine around the glass for a quick rinse between tastings.

As for the actual tasting, there is probably a proper way to do it, but it seems debatable. No, you don't need to spit it out. But you should pretend to have a snobby accent while you talk about the aromatics. The most important part is having fun. 

  • Hold the glass under your nose and take a good sniff. What do you smell? Floral? Fruity? Earthy? Do you like it?
  • Take a sip and hold it in your mouth. You'll notice the flavour changes if you breathe in a bit of air (makes a slurping sound). What do you think?
  • Or, just drink it however you like and see how it tastes.

What should you pair with it?

A wine tasting wouldn't be complete without cheese. Stop by Everything Cheese, Cavern, or Paddy's International Cheese Market for something special. Ask the cheese experts for help. They are happy to find something perfect to pair. Again, make it as fancy as you want, but here are some basic pairings:

  • Light cheese pairs nicely with light wine. Strong cheese: heavier wine. Brie goes well with Chardonnay. Mozzarella or gruyere with Sauvignon Blanc. Blue with riesling. Gouda with merlot. Gorgonzola with port. Cheddar is nice with Cabernet Sauvignon. 
  • Have fun with the cheese presentation: bake a brie wheel in the oven and spread on toasted buns. Cheese crisps (aka Frico) are the easiest thing to make. Grate some, slice some, mix it up!

CHOCOLATE. I don't need to explain this.

  • No. Not from the grocery store. Your taste buds will thank you for putting in the effort to source specialty chocolates. Our favourites: Jacek, Sweet Lollapalooza, Cococo, and Choklat
  • The darker the wine, the darker the chocolate. Pair white or milk chocolate with whites, and bitter, dark chocolates with deep red wines. Surprisingly, champagne or sparkling wines go well with most chocolate types.
  • Ensure the chocolate isn't sweeter than the wine.
  • Ask the chocolatiers for pairing advice. They are the experts.

Sip it slow or drink it fast, with or without cheese and chocolate. However you decide to do it, have fun with it. Cheers!

Images (clockwise from top left): valeuf, gfairchild, kev-shine, julesjulesjules m via flickr.