One terrific idea for a wine country party is to host a wine tasting. There are many ways to do this but one popular way is to do a blind tasting. Gather a number of wines (labels covered), either from the same region (e.g. Chardonnays of different vintages) or a variety of wines from different regions. If you're going the latter route, start by pouring a sparkling wine, followed by whites, then reds and finally a desert wine (you can eliminate some of these choices, but that should be your order of progression). If the wines are all in the same family, start with the young vintages and move on to older ones. You can also reverse the order. Provide guests with paper or cards to write notes on. They can either rate the wines based on taste or try to guess the brand name of the wines.
You might want to spend some time teaching your guests the elements of wine tasting -- how to judge color, clarity or aroma. Or tell them something about the region where the wine was produced. And don't forget to provide water for palate cleansing and a container where guests can throw out their wine if they don't like one they have sampled.
If you’re looking for something more casual, have guests bring bottles that they've covered up with decorations before the party. Have a little competition for the best decorated bottle as well as to select the favorite wine of the night. Just be sure guests note which bottles are which!
You don’t want to fatigue your palate, so select wines that will complement each other, and don’t choose too many for a blind tasting. Consider one bottle of wine per guest (keeping your guest list small). A bottle of wine holds approximately four full servings or eight to twelve "tastings" so plan accordingly. For a larger, more relaxed party, keep the wine flowing as long as you want your guests to stay.
Don't forget to have appropriate glassware. Karyn Howard, wine expert at RayLen Vineyards in Mocksville, N.C., asserts that glassware is extremely important to get the most out of your wine experience. For example, it’s very important to serve a Bordeaux wine in a Bordeaux glass. The size of the opening of the glass determines the wine’s exposure to air, which can affect the aroma and taste of the wine. You can contact your local party rental company for any glassware that you don't already own.