If you’ve been jonesing to do something a little different this summer that involves friends, booze and more class than your typical kegger, may we suggest hosting a summer tasting party? You’ve been looking for an excuse to clean up the backyard and hang those cafe lights anyway. Not to mention there are all kinds of things to taste. Beer, wine, chocolate, cheese, BeanBoozled Jelly Beans—anything your palate desires or dares.
CHOOSE A THEME & NARROW THE FIELD
The first thing you want to do is pick a theme. This does not mean everyone shows up in mid century garb, although there is a special place in heaven for those who do.
Choosing a theme means getting clear on exactly what kind of food and drink you want at your party and then narrowing their fields. A good example of what not to do, compliments of Fine Cooking, is “don’t include flavored chocolate bars, flavored truffles, semisweet chocolate bars and white chocolate bars in the same tasting.” One of these things is not like the others, you guys. Narrow the field and then taste them one after the other.
You knew this whole tasting party thing was a great idea right from the beginning, didn’t you? The best way to make sure you know what you’re serving your guests is to pretaste samples of everything. You will not hate this process. At all.
Tasting is a completely different ball game than eating. Tasting includes really slowing down, savoring flavors and paying attention to things like flavor, texture, aroma, appearance and finish. From there, you can gauge how enjoyable the experience was and decide if what you sampled is A) something you want to share at your party and B) something you’d like to buy again for yourself. Win win.
SET UP YOUR PARTY SITE FOR MAXIMUM TASTING JOY
Since this is a semi-structured affair, you’ll want to set up your tables and offer pens and customized tasting sheets. Include spaces for guests to write impressions about appearance, aroma, flavor, texture, and overall impression.
Put your samples in some kind of tasting order that will make sense to everyone—like mild to mega flavor—and give information about each food item or beverage. Background of the sample, price and where to buy in case your guests decide to ride off into the sunset with a particular beer or cheese is a solid place to start.
The party has started! Your guests are now realizing that you ARE in fact their favorite friend and that adulting has its perks.
Lead the charge and have your guests follow you through each food and drink, sampling and writing down thoughts. Between tastings, everyone can cleanse their palates with water and bread or crackers and then continue on to the next treat!
You for sure will get extra summery points if you host your tasting party outside, underneath those fabulous cafe lights. Set the mood with some eccentric experimental jazz and the perfect tasting hardware and you’re ready to ride!