Wine Education

How to Host a Wine Tasting Night (Virtual or In-Person)

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Since we don’t have a tasting room at Tanglewood, we wanted to bring the tasting experience home to you! Wine tasting is a great way to learn more about your likes and dislikes, and wine culture in general! Jazz up a regular night with friends by adding in a simple tasting. All you need are Tanglewood wines and the downloadable tasting sheet.

Download & Print

What is wine tasting?

From what you see in movies and on tv, wine tasting can seem like an intimidating or pretentious pastime, reserved for wine experts and foodies. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be so serious! In Michigan, thanks to our quantity of excellent vineyards, wine tasting isn’t so foreign. Essentially, wine tasting is the process of evaluating different aspects of the wine including color, taste, scent, and more! Take the wine tasting experience home by hosting your own wine tasting party (virtual or in-person)! 

How to host a wine tasting party:

The first step to hosting a tasting is to pick a theme! You can pick a selection of wines from the same region, price range, style, vintage, variety, etc. For our tasting sheet, we used Tanglewood wines, all from Holland, Michigan. 

The key to a great tasting experience is to keep the group small. This way everyone gets a chance to share their thoughts and converse about each wine. In 2020, this is also a good way to make sure everyone can stay safe and keep distanced from each other. You can do this tasting outside or virtually too! 

How much wine should you have per person?

A bottle of wine is usually around 24 ounces. A typical taste is about 2-ounces, however, it may take a few tastes for guests to feel confident about their analysis. We’d recommend about a bottle per person to ensure that everyone has a chance to taste and enjoy each.

What do I need to host a wine tasting party?

Aside from the obvious, wine and tasting sheets, there are a few other supplies that can improve the experience. 

  1. Print out our wine terminology cheat sheet: so that you and your guests can discuss the wines like pros!
  2. Glassware — one glass per person will work, but a glass per each type of wine would make the experience smoother. If you do use one glass per person, make sure you are rinsing the glass thoroughly between tastes because previous wines can contaminate the flavor of the next and throw off your notes.
  3. Palate Cleansers — set out some type of palate cleanser like water crackers, bread, etc. Palate cleansers help reset your taste buds between wines so that you’re getting an accurate flavor.
  4. Water — make sure everyone has enough water to drink between sips!
  5. Pick a few snacks — We have a few recipe and appetizer ideas on our blog to give you an idea of which will work best with our wines! 

What kind of wine glasses do you need?

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While we fully support the drinking of wine out of whatever vessel you have available, there are some strong arguments for drinking wine out of the “proper” glass. Wine glasses are designed to improve the wine drinking experience of particular types of wine. Their different shapes allow for temperature preservation, delivering aromas, and more.

First, take a look at the different parts of the wine glass. 

We’re going to break down which glasses deliver the best drinking experience for different types of wine so that you can choose the right glass everytime.


White Wines


White wines are best served in glasses with a smaller bowl, however the width of the bowl can vary based on the category of white wine.

A smaller bowl preserves floral aromas, expresses acidity, and maintains a cool temperature.

Lighter, sweeter white wines like our Traminette do better in tall, slim bowls. Heavier, more full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay are better with a larger bowl with a wide mouth that helps emphasize the creaminess. 


Red Wines

There are three main types of red wine glass. Some red wine glasses help smooth spiciness, or cut bitterness. 

Large bowl glasses help to accentuate aromas and mitigate the burn of the ethanol since the wine is further from the nose. A larger surface area allows the ethanol to evaporate more efficiently and deliver a smoother finish.  

Spicy wines like Malbecs do well in medium-sized red wine glasses. Medium-sized glasses allow the drinker to enjoy more of the subtleties in the flavor, and also calm spice in the wines by pouring more slowly from a smaller opening. 

Sweeter or more aromatic red wines like our Frontenac are best enjoyed in a glass with a large round bowl. This helps collect and preserve the aromas to really enhance the flavors.


Port wines like our Blue Blood are very high in alcohol. These are best served in smaller glasses with a narrow opening. These features reduce evaporation to preserve the flavor.

Will you be buying a variety of glasses, or just the one right for your favorite kind of wine? We hope you try our wines with the glasses described above! If you do, let us know if you can taste a difference using different glasses!


Tanglewood winery is a production facility. We do not have a tasting room.