With wedding season coming up, it’s possible that you’ll be planning a shower soon. Instead of having the same old “traditional” shower, with games and hours of “oohing” and “aahing” over “traditional” gifts, consider a wine theme! You and your guests will have a delightful (and educational) wine-tasting and the lucky couple will receive a wine collection.

> The Basics First, decide if it will be ladies only or co-ed. I suggest co-ed because it’s an excellent icebreaker for the entire bridal party, close friends and family. Depending on the number of guests and your budget, choose to either hold the event at a restaurant or in a private home. If the latter, rent glassware from a party supply store to make it easier on yourself. Also, hire helpers to pour wine and clean up.

> The Theme Ideally, the wedding party will purchase a wine fridge for the lucky couple that can be filled up by the shower guests. Use the invitation to let guests know about the wine theme and to ask them to bring a bottle of their favorite wine. Include a 4-by-6-inch index card for listing their name and why the wine is special to them. Then, as guests arrive at the shower, take a picture of each with their special bottle. The picture, along with the notecard, will go into an album for the couple to refer to as they savor the wines they received.

> The Wines Find out what wines the bride and groom like to drink (are they Syrah fanatics?). Or, if their honeymoon destination is, for example, Italy, use that for inspiration. Then work with the restaurant’s sommelier or a sales associate at your wine store to select a variety of wines for the shower. The tasting should start with the sparkling wine, then move from lightest to fullest. After the bubbly, I suggest tasting a few whites and then a few reds. Finish with a dessert wine or port. Assuming a 2- to 3-ounce tasting portion of each wine, order at least one bottle of each wine for every 10 people. Create a menu for each guest listing all the wines served and leave room for notes. Most wineries have online tasting notes that you can include on the menu. If you want to make the tasting a bit more educational and entertaining, hire a wine educator or sommelier to lead the group.

> The Food You can either hire a caterer or ask each person in the bridal party to bring a dish.  It’s good to have a display of cheese, meats and olives at the start. This assures that guests have food before the tasting gets under way. These also go well with the lighter wines you’ll be serving first. Have heartier courses for the red wines and, of course, don’t forget dessert. The wine-themed shower will allow everyone to taste six new wines while getting to know each other. The bride and groom will end up with a well-stocked wine collection to begin their marriage and, at the wedding, everyone will feel like old friends.

Want to learn more about the factors used to determine wine style? Visit Laurie’s blog at

Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach®, is a wine educator who creates corporate events, group tastings and team-building seminars. She is the author of “The Sipping Point: A Crash Course in Wine,” and can be heard each week on WBAL 1090 AM.

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