How to Host a Wine Tasting on a Budget

How to Host a Wine Tasting on a BudgetDisclosure: This post is sponsored by Mirassou Winery. All ideas, and opinions expressed are 100% my own.

I’ve been living in my apartment for over a year and I’m just now fixing it up. I realized I’m tired of living “my now” for the future. I wanted my place to look decent instead of having a dorm room, shelter, only here until the next opportunity comes, feel about it.

I’ve always had this notion when I get more money, I’ll do XYZ, when I graduate, I’ll do XYZ, when I get a husband, I’ll do XYZ. You get my drift?

Well, it’s no guarantee that any of these things will happen.

See, I realized I can still look forward to the future, and plan, and still be grateful, and enjoy the things happening in my life now, while having the comfort of a beautiful place to call my own.

Fast forward…now that my place is finally coming together I can have company over. I had never hosted a wine tasting before, but I knew I wanted  it to be nice, I wanted to have a few of my girlfriends over, and of course do it on a budget.

How to Host a Wine Tasting on a Budget


1. Choose a few varieties of wines to sample: 

Any value wine you’d like to try is ok. Mirassou has a variety of affordable wines to choose from.

At my tasting we had Pinot Noir, which has flavors of cherry, strawberry and red currant, which are supported by light vanilla and oak notes; Sunset Red, which has sophisticated flavors of pomegranate, dark cherry, and are complemented by Zinfandel’s spice notes and red fruit flavors; and Moscato, which has luscious flavors of sweet tropical fruit, mandarin oranges and honey.

The Mirassou family has been growing grapes and crafting superior wines in California since 1854, and is America’s oldest winemaking family.


pouring wine

2. Choose your decor or theme:

You don’t have to have a theme, or decor. You’d cut a lot of your budget by going this route. Since I hardly have guest visit I wanted things to look nice. I wanted my decor to appear slightly rustic to match the look of the wine bottles, and Dollar Tree ended up being my best friend in the process. Here is a list of the things purchased at Dollar Tree:

Wine Glasses (I opted for real glasses $1 each)

Serving trays and bowls

Serving Utensils (spoon, salad server)

Plastic forks

Paper plates

Plastic cups


Decor (plastic grapes, brown paper)

I wrapped my craft table with the brown shipping paper. I got a few empty wine bottles for free from a local restaurant and thoroughly sanitized them (for a few days) to use as water bottles during the tasting.

How to Host a Wine Tasting on a Budget

first toast

3. Choose your menu:

While there is a traditional way to host a tasting by making menu items that complement each type of wine, I went a different route. Since my tasting was informal I combined a mixture of foods (basically, comfort foods). I didn’t have to do much shopping for the food because I had most of it in the fridge. I got all of the items at Aldi, and Costco. Here is what was on the menu:

Mixed Salad (Costco)

Tortilla Chips (Aldi)

Mateo’s Salsa (Costco)

Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels (Costco)

Cheese Balls/ Cheese Cubes (Aldi)

Mixed Party Crackers (Aldi)

Lemon Cake (Aldi)

Grapes (Costco)

Strawberries, Cantaloupe, Pineapple (Aldi)

Chicken and Veggies (I had all ingredients)

Wine (Mirassou)

I purchased the strawberries, cantaloupe, and pineapple whole, and chopped them myself. I also did the same for the cheese; chopped it into cubes. I purchased my cheese balls and they were delicious, but I could have saved more money making them myself. Cassie over at Bake Your Day, has a delicious recipe for a Savory Cheese Ball.

For the chicken and veggies meal, I grilled a few pieces of chicken breast. When the chicken was done I cut it up, turned the heat low and mixed in carrots, red, yellow, and green bell peppers, squash, onions, fresh garlic, and tomatoes, added a little bit of seasonings (variety), and let it simmer until the veggies were done.

How to Host a Wine Tasting on a Budget

party set up

5. Create a “Wine Tasting” Guide:

A “Wine Tasting Guide” tells your guest a little bit about each wine being tasted. It has the name of the wine, a description, and a checkbox, or area for you to take notes. It also acts as a scoring sheet. Creating a wine tasting guide is pretty simple, you can use post-its, notebook paper, get creative and make a brochure; whatever you’d like to do.

Mirassou provided card stock wine tasting guides for my wine tasting, along with scoring sheets. I don’t have a picture because I let everyone take theirs home but you can get a glimpse of one on the bottom picture.

You taste each wine and write down what you liked, or didn’t like about  it, and give each wine a score.

6. Choose Party Favors (optional):

One way to have your guest remember your event is by giving them party favors. Party favors can be anything you like, for example, inexpensive decorative corkscrews, wine journals, grape or corkscrew ornaments, wine glass charms, inexpensive wine glasses, and the list goes on and on.

For my wine tasting Mirassou provided me a variety of wine paring recipes on card stock. I knew I wanted to give them to my guest but had to think of a creative way. I took the card stock sheets to Office Max and for $2.00 they cut the stack into nicely sized squares. There were 12 recipes total, so I made stacks of 12 and tied them with cute rustic ribbon I got from Michael’s two years ago for $1.00.

How to Host a Wine Tasting on a Budget

party favors

7. Play some Trivia games and Raffle off items (optional):

To keep your guest engaged, play wine trivia games and raffle off a few items. Raffle items can be the same as party favors, anything you choose, for example, inexpensive decorative corkscrews, wine journals, grape or corkscrew ornaments, wine glass charms, inexpensive wine glasses, wine, and more.

At my tasting we played Mirassou Trivia, and raffled off a bottle of wine…What year did Mirassou start making wine?

Cynthia from Mrs. Wright Writes, got the answer right…1854…and won the grand prize…a bottle of wine, in a cute little wine bag I got from World Markets clearance section.

How to Host a Wine Tasting on a Budget

prize winner. photo credit: Mrs. Wright

Hosting a wine tasting on a budget should be enjoyable for everyone, including the host, and I had a wonderful time preparing, and attending the event! For around $50 I was able to entertain my friends and succeed at hosting an event I’ve never tried before.

I look forward to entertaining more guest in the near future, and who knows, maybe I’ll have an annual wine tasting.

Remember to have your guest drink responsibly. Good luck on your next (or first) wine tasting!

Like this post? You can keep up with me (and the savings) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.

Do you have any other ideas for hosting a wine tasting on a budget? I’d love to hear about them, just drop a line in the comment box.



  1. May 18, 2015 / 10:04 am

    You’re welcome Jessica.

  2. Jessica
    May 17, 2015 / 7:29 pm

    Looking forward to hosting my first wine tasting soon. You have given me the confidence to make it happen & I will definitely use your example to direct my next steps. Thanks for the article!

  3. April 19, 2014 / 2:40 pm

    THese are absolutely GREAT Tips that I will be using this summer! We love wine especially the Pinot Noir!

  4. Ashlie
    April 18, 2014 / 4:29 pm

    Kudos to you Ericka! You pulled this off on a great budget and a great way to do something out of the ordinary!! You inspire me to try things outside of the box and I learn a lot about hosting a wine tasting!

  5. April 18, 2014 / 4:18 pm

    Steven Kent Mirassou owns two wineries in my hometown (Livermore, California). Excellent choice for a wine tasting party. We’re long overdue having one at our house. Thanks for the great suggestions and party favor ideas!

  6. April 18, 2014 / 3:34 pm

    Great post and well written! Now, lets get down to business…Did you save me any? 😉

  7. Brittany
    April 18, 2014 / 3:08 pm

    This is a great idea. Now I want to have a wine tasting!

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