10 steps to hosting the perfect beer or wine tasting party in your Toronto apartment

Whether you’ve just moved in to your Toronto rental apartment and want to throw a housewarming party, or just need an excuse to get your friends together and drink – without paying the ridiculous prices at Toronto bars – a beer or wine tasting party is an awesome way to make it happen.

The beauty is that beer or wine tasting parties are awesome as BYOB events, so you don’t even have to supply the booze for everyone. Plus it’s fun to have people guess what they’re tasting – especially towards the end when everyone’s pretty buzzed.

Maybe just whip up a few appies, and give it a go.

Here are 10 steps to creating the perfect beer or wine tasting party at your Toronto apartment:

Step 1. Decide whether to go seasonal. Some beer and wine tastings get pretty technical and people only sample bevvies that are right for the season – white wines and lighter beers in summer; reds and stouts in winter. You get the idea.

Step 2. Make the guest list. Invite friends who will enjoy the beer/wine as much as you. Keep it to a number of people who can actually fit in your apartment, and choose your guests wisely – some friends will be just drunk enough at the end of the night to still be somewhat functional; others will turn the night into a beer pong tourney.

Step 3. Set the budget. This should depend on what you decide for Step 2. For a classier event, you might want to set your budget at $35 per bottle of wine, or  $18 for a six pack.

Step 4. Set a date, send out the invites and request the booze. Tell each friend or each couple to bring a six pack or a bottle that fits your theme for the night. You’ll want to give them some details about what kind of tasting you’re doing.

Step 5. Collect the supplies. The proper way to do a wine or beer tasting is for each person to have a clean glass with each tasting (obviously, you’re not going to be drinking out of the bottle for this event). That might be taking things a bit far, so if you don’t go that route, a single wine or beer glass for each person is fine. You’ll also need:

  • A fridge, ice bucket or cooler
  • A tasting menu
  • Paper bags
  • Napkins
  • Pens or pencils
  • Notepads for each guest
  • Corkscrews and bottle openers
  • Snacks, tunes, decor, etc.
  • Optional prize(s) for the winner(s)

Step 6. Host the party. Set up the table and get everything ready for your guests to arrive. You might want to put out glasses of water for everyone so they can cleanse their palates between drinks.

Step 7. Prep the drinks. Whether you’re serving wine or beer, you’re going to need to conceal the bottle for the guessing game part of the night. That’s what the paper bags are for.

Step 8. Start the party. Do a little intro for your guests about how the tasting works. Explain that they’ll taste ____ number of wines or beers. The notepads are for writing their observations about what they taste (eg. hints of chocolate and plum) and for writing their guess about which wine or beer they’re trying.

Step 9. Make the pour. When you pour, make sure the bottle is completely hidden by the paper bag. How much to pour per person is up to you! Classy tastings offer only an ounce or less, but you can go big for your party. Don’t serve the drinks in the order that’s on the tasting menu, or you’ll take the guessing game out of it.

Step 10. Finish the beer or wine tasting party. At the end, compare your guests’ guesses about which drink was which and reveal who was right! Then call a cab because you might be drunk enough to go out!

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Born on the Prairies, Erin Cardone grew up knowing there was more to life than canola fields and AAA Alberta Angus. So she escaped, living in Europe and Australia, white-knuckling it through plates of calf brains and raw horse meat, and learning languages she can't remember anymore. After a stint as a jaded, skeptical journalist, she changed tack and began writing rather awesome blogs and showing businesses that advertising is dead, so long live social media, with her businesses Legendary Social Media. She now splits her time between various Canadian cities, Costa Rica and wherever else the wind blows.

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