Floral, Bitter, Smooth: Tips for organizing a tasting party

15 Oct

Sometimes you probably want to eat a box of chocolates or drink an entire bottle of wine by yourself. When this happens, you might organize a tasting party instead. This way you can use words like “sophisticated” and “fancy” instead of “pathetic” and “worrisome” to describe what is essentially the same event.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Choose a food. There’s no such thing as too much wine, cheese, or chocolate, so those are all good choices. The main criteria, though, is just that the food must come in several varieties, so hummus, salsa, coffee, beer, olives, yogurt, and pudding would all also work.
  • Collect your samples. Ask a sommelier, fromagier, chocolatier, yogurteer, puddingologist, or other food professional for help. It’s a good idea to choose a variety of samples to reflect the full spectrum of flavors, colors, textures, etc.
  • Decide if it’s a blind tasting. Some people argue that seeing the label will influence the tasters, so you ought to do a blind tasting in the interest of fairness. Other people are more easygoing about life.
  • Serve small portions. Smaller than you think. Even smaller than that.
  • Provide appropriate accompaniments, accoutrements, and palate cleansers. Water, crackers, bread, and crudites are good possibilities. I don’t have any ideas for what to serve with pudding. Maybe pop tarts.
  • Provide note-taking sheets with a glossary of terms. Do a little research on what attributes are used to measure the quality of the particular food item, including terms to describe appearance, aroma, texture and taste. Wine might be “oaky.” Chocolate can have a “crisp snap.” Cheese is sometimes “buttery.” Pudding occasionally tastes “like plastic.”

Tips for tasters:

  • Show up hungry and pace yourself.
  • If you want to impress people, loudly and emphatically state how much you dislike one of the varieties. Impressive people have strong dislikes.
  • To sound knowledgeable, use the word “mouthfeel.”

Enjoy!

chocolate

40-80% cacao. 100% delicious.

This is how we roll. 2009 Battle of the Bagel.

This is how we roll. 2009 Battle of the Bagel.

Curd you imagine a better whey to spend teatime? (Ugh...so lame.)

Curd you imagine a better whey to spend teatime? (Ugh...so lame.)

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2 Responses to “Floral, Bitter, Smooth: Tips for organizing a tasting party”

  1. juliacsmith October 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    I think you should post your scoresheet for the Battle of the Bagel online somewhere and link to it. So useful!

    • hannahkane October 19, 2009 at 1:06 am #

      Oh man…I don’t think I have it anymore. It was pretty simple, though. Something like giving each bagel a score of 1-5 in three categories – appearance, texture, and flavor.

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