posted on Sep 29, 2017

We know you’ve been to them in Orlando weddings or events. The dreaded cocktail reception after the ceremony or before the dinner of your event when you have to begin mingling with others that you either don’t know or maybe even some you’d rather slip away from.

But what do you do that’s simple, entertaining, and memorable? One of our absolute favorites are wine tastings!

Wine tastings don’t have to be expensive or formal (unless of course, you prefer them to be!), and can be a relaxed way to get everyone comfortable with each other while not putting too much pressure on the chit chat!

Whether you are hosting a large or small scale event, we have 2 options that can be the perfect touch to your once-in-a-lifetime wedding or celebration.

If you’re hosting a large reception:

1. Set up a variety of tasting stations so not everyone is crowded around one station. These stations can offer different wines or all the same. If you are offering a longer than normal reception (think more than one hour), a variety of different wine tasting stations can keep your guests entertained longer.

2. Ask your caterer for a sommelier to make the rounds between stations, sharing information on the wines, giving tips, and answering questions. Bartenders can do the rest in regards to pouring and should know a few basics about the wines they are pouring.

3. When deciding what to pour, go for one these themes:

– different varietals of reds such as pinot noir, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon or whites such as resiling, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnay. This is the simplest type of tasting for those who may not understand differences between varietals.

– the same varietal, but from different countries. For example, a sauvignon blanc from the US is quite different from one from New Zealand. And sparkling wine from California has a distinct difference from champagne served from the Champagne region of France. This can be a really fun and educational tasting, allowing guests to understand the difference between such things as a pinot noir from Washington state versus one from California.

– If available to you, you may also choose to host a vintage tasting. That is, the same varietal, same bottle, but from different years. If you go this route, make sure to have signage that explains the weather patterns from each year so guests understand why there may be more tannins in one year versus a little more sweetness the next.

The most important piece in conducting a large scale tasting is to have enough knowledgeable staff and supplies. The caterer will need many extra glasses, spit buckets (even if they aren’t used very much!) and it’s nice to offer water crackers to cleanse the palette. Look to your catering team to pair some of the wines with any cheeses or hors d’oeuvres you are offerings.

If you are entertaining a small guest count:

For intimate dinners or receptions, it’s fun to get the entire group involved at once for the tasting. One of our favorite things is to host a wine pairing dinner (usually this works well with groups of 50 or less) in which each course is served with a paired wine.

However, we have noticed that even though guests love this, it can be intimidating for those not trained in wine. That’s why we love to incorporate a sommelier into the dinner where he/she explains:

– why glasses are held the way they are
– how to properly swirl/smell the wine’s bouquet
– how to taste the wine and understand the different tones
– how to tell how acidic a wine is
– what to do when a server opens a bottle, gives you the cork, and when to pass on the bottle or a glass of wine
– how to tell the body of a glass of wine (full bodied, light bodied, etc.)

We see so many guests who, even though have been enjoying wine for years, have never learned proper techniques or knew who to ask. Sommeliers have easy tricks to help educate guests and answer questions. They can also explain the wine being served, where it’s from, and what’s special about it.

When guests are sitting waiting for the next course to be served, we have found this a most wonderful entertaining and memorable part of dinner. And the stories many sommeliers share are light hearted, fun, and make everyone feel comfortable!

Too much for your wedding?  Try this for your rehearsal dinner or welcome reception!  It’s fun and interactive, getting everyone to participate, especially if they feel shy or awkward meeting others.

Are you planning an Orlando wedding and are looking for a sommelier to help with your wedding? Well guess what? We have one of our own! Our sommelier has conducted tastings for a variety of events, including Tiffany & Co. guest events. She’s entertaining, easy going, and loves to make everyone feel like a knowledgeable pro by the time they leave!

Contact me at for more information on our sommelier and other ideas for your Central Florida wedding or event!



Photography by Kim Nodurft Photography