Invitations to a wine tasting party should be elegant. Anyone over the legal drinking age in your state, who is not staunchly against drinking alcohol, would be appropriate to invite to a wine tasting party. You will want each guest that you are inviting to feel that they are special and that it is an honor to be invited to your party. Stationery stores offer a variety of invitations that are embossed, have a calligraphy print on them, or are foil lined. Any of these would be appropriate. Be sure to state on the invitation whether the occasion is business casual or semi-formal cocktail attire.
Set up your wine tasting room with a variety of seating options. Some guests will feel more comfortable in cushioned chairs, while others may want to perch on a stool or windowsill. If you have room, put a couple of bistro sets in the room, as well as some tall counters/round tables to encourage people to stand and talk as they taste the wine. This variety will invite people to gather in small clusters for conversations. Add twinkle lights and candles and cut the overhead lighting to a minimum.
The Wine Tasting Experience
You will want to acquire the assistance of a wine expert. If you do not want to hire a bartender, then ask an acquaintance to study wines and assist you in selecting the wines for the party. Whoever is behind the bar, pouring the wine will need to be knowledgeable about the process used for winemaking, and the types of wines that are better with a particular food (seafood, steak, pasta). You could offer index cards or brochures with recipes and recommended wines on them, as an added feature. These are available at wine shops and supermarkets.
Purchase small 2 oz wine tasting glasses, as well as offering larger 4 oz glasses for those who choose a particular wine. Be sure to have fruit juices and flavored water on hand for those who are done wine tasting.
It is appropriate to offer a variety of cocktail party foods. Set a buffet table in the center of the room and put platters of crackers, cheeses and fresh fruits out for your guests to enjoy. You could also put a couple of choices of hot foods, such as cocktail meatballs, in chaffing dishes on the table. Use unopened bottles of wine and pillar candles to accent the table.
You can prepare specialty foods, such as stuffed mushroom caps or bacon wrapped scallops and circulate through the room so that each guest gets one or two. This is a good way to showcase the foods that are more expensive and cannot be made in large quantities. Offering a new tray every fifteen minutes allows for the foods to be heated and put on trays, in between serving the guests. If you can afford to hire one or two wait staff to assist you, it will be money well spent and will allow you to enjoy the party.