As the cold weather sets in, a lot of women skip the #PARTY or #GIRLSNIGHTOUT hashtag.

Hosting an informal wine tasting provides a welcome change from movie nights – plus, it’s a great way to stay out of the cold and get to know your wines with good friends and family.

Durbanville Hills Cellar Master, Martin Moore, explains that learning to be your own wine sommelier and arranging a wine party is easier than you might think. “It really comes down to a bit of party planning and some research into particular wine and food pairings. For example, I would recommend tasting reds in winter because their silkiness and temperature generally work well for cosy nights in.”

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Moore shares his steps for the ultimate winter wine party:

  • Pick a theme and format: The options are endless – from a simple tasting to a sit-down pairing and dinner, it’s up to you.  Moore points out that blind tastings are a fun twist if you have friends who are familiar with their wines.
  • Build your guest list: Now that you have your theme and format, you’re ready to let everyone know you’re hosting a party. “Keep in mind that an enjoyable wine tasting is best kept to fewer than 10 guests. You want people to engage about the wines – while also mingling and getting to enjoy their favourite varietals,” says Moore. 
  • Select your wines: Moore recommends focussing on red wines because their velvet taste and full-bodied profile tend to work well in the chilly season. “My fireside wine of choice would have to be the Merlot as it boasts so much character. Merlots are produced in a distinctive, New-World-style that are big, brawny, juicy, fruit-forward and stylistically very similar to Cabernet,” says Moore.
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  • Pick the perfect food pairings*: Wine pairing is easy with a little research – and good quality wines.  “Red wines open up a world of opportunity for winter dishes,” says Moore, “A good Merlot pairs beautifully with grilled, smoked, or charred foods – marinades with sharper flavours that will be echoed in a dish. Be careful of pairing Merlot with fiery foods as this will increase the perception of the alcohol in the wine while accentuating the bitter and astringent nature of the tannins.”

He adds that if you’re planning to go ahead with a simpler pairing, such as cheese and wine, Boerenkaas, Emmenthal, Camembert, Red Leicester, and mild Cheddar are perfect matches for Merlot, however, he cautions strongly flavoured cheeses like blue-veined cheeses.

“Your pairings are mostly dependent on the wine you want to serve for the night and on the type of tasting you are looking to do – you can then find the perfect meal to accompany the wine”.


  • Make magic with detail: The perfect party means paying attention to the smaller things – which ironically have a big impact. White and red wine specific glasses make a big difference in terms of bringing out the flavour profiles of the wine, says Moore. “Your red wine glasses look more like a bowl and are usually larger, while the white wine glasses are ‘U’ shaped.”

Lastly, he concludes that making sure you have the other essentials such as a spittoon for excess wine, fresh water for rinsing and palate cleansers will take your wine party to the next level. 

To purchase any Durbanville Hills wines visit Vinoteque or contact Durbanville Hills directly.


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