God, I love that time of year. And it's almost upon us!
Make this Return to School holiday memorable and have a wine tasting party. What? Don't know a moscato from a merlot? Here's the best way to learn, and enjoy the company of your friends at the same time. First, pick an evening or a lazy afternoon and and invite all your friends over. Advertise that it is a wine tasting party and each will need to bring a bottle to pass. On the invitation, specify which type of wine you'd like them to bring. Typical wines range from sweet white to dry red (and should be sampled in that order). If you're really ambitious and have a lot of friends include moscato, cuvee, Rieslings, ports, meads and other specialty wines or double up on the whites and reds.
If you don't have enough wine glasses, some stores such as Pier One or Bed, Bath and Beyond have a kit of sample glasses especially for occasions like this. Have enough soda (for the designated and responsible driver. Not only is it cool, it's smart), and beer on hand for those who have different preferences. Make a few mouthwatering appetizers and finger food snacks (include cheese and crackers to clean the palate). If you want to be fancy, pair the wine with a theme like cheese, or chocolate. Don't forget to also clean your bathroom (please make the snacks first!) and put on some background music.
Once the guests arrive, let them mingle while you set up a station for wine with a folded index card to describe (fruity and sweet with scents of apricot, pairs well with spicy foods...). There should be around 7 or 8 wines to taste starting from sweetest to dry. What wines you don't use, chill in the fridge. Most wine snobs like me will be aware of wine temps, but don't stress, this is an informal get together. Just keep 'em chilled until ready to sample.
With each guest ready with a sample glass, pour a small amount of wine in each. Impress them with phrases such as "this wine has great legs", which means when the wine is swirled in the glass, it kinda sticks to the side before gravity takes over. Encourage mouth feel and taste. Remember this is not a kegger, it's sophistication. With that many wines already open, there should be no need to open more.
Mingle, eat and enjoy your guests and the wines. I choose to support New York, but feel free to incorporate wines from all over the world if you wish. After a few sample sips, it'll become apparent which wines you gravitate towards.
Once everyone has gone home, if your lucky, you'll have a few bottles left over to start your own wine cellar and maybe host other parties. Salute!