With a few simple basics, you can learn to swirl, sniff, and sip with the best of them.
Choose the Wine
Have guests sample five different types of wine (more will overwhelm the palette). It's fine to mix reds and whites; just serve them in order from lightest to darkest, since darker wines tend to be heavier. For six guests, have two bottles of each: one for tasting (pour small amounts of about one ounce) and one for drinking afterward.
For an easy theme, select vintages that all hail from a specific region: Tuscany, Napa, or your own state. Get local suggestions from your neighborhood wine shop or take a hint from one of these sites: Zachys Wine Online (zachys.com), Binny's (binnys.com), or Appellation America (wine.appelationamerica.com).
Provide one Bordeaux glass (shown in photo) per person for the duration of the tasting. (Don't rinse the glass between servings, since even a drop or two of water can dilute the wine.)
As a general rule, 15 to 30 minutes before guests arrive, put reds in the refrigerator. Take whites and rosés out a few minutes before pouring.