How to Host a Wine Tasting at a Murder Mystery Party

Several people toast with wine glasses while enjoying the Dinner Murder Mystery named "Sour Grapes"

Hosting a wine tasting party at (for example) our Sour Grapes Dinner Murder Mystery is a great way to do something fun, classy, and different with your friends. This article will be oriented toward Sour Grapes, but could be adapted to any wine-related mystery.


Since Sour Grapes is an Italian Murder Mystery set at a Vineyard and Winery in Tuscany, Italy, you need to have Italian wines. So, it’s best to have the wine tasting prior to dinner during the first half of the game. You don’t want to be eating during the wine tasting, other than bread or crackers that you will need to cleanse you palate.


Bear in mind that the wine tasting is secondary to the game and is added for the fun and atmosphere and gives authenticity to the game. Guests should still be mingling and asking questions, making accusations and sleuthing while this is taking place.


Since our Dinner Murder Mystery game is for 14-20 guests you will want to make sure you have fourteen to twenty wine glasses – plus a few extras. These can be purchased all the same and don’t have to be super pricey. Depending on your budget you can actually get wine glasses at the Dollar Store. Realistically one glass per guest will do, and tell them to hang onto their glass. You can also get wine glass charms as identifiers. You want a rounder glass for the Italian reds.  The glasses should have stems so the guests don’t warm the wine with their hands and also to be clear glass so the guests can see the color of the wine.


Supplies you will need for a Wine Tasting

 1. You will need the wine. You will want red Italian wines and include a Chianti Classico. Click here for a list of 10 popular Tuscan red wines. Make sure to have enough wine for your guests. We recommend being the sole buyer of wine for your party, rather than leaving it up to your guests. If you go this way, let your guests know on your invitations that you will be selecting the wines, and that there will be plenty to go around. You can always ask your guests for contributions (in lieu of bottles) to help cover costs. Perhaps leave a basket out for donations. Or, alternately you can chose to pay for it all.


How much wine you buy depends on the portion size. One bottle of wine comfortably serves five people with nice-sized pours. So, if you decide to feature four wines and are hosting 20 people, everything here comes down to math: There are 25 ounces in a standard 750ml bottle. If you want to offer only tastes of two-ounce pours, you’ll be able to serve 10 plus people with one bottle, so two bottles per type of wine times four or five types you are looking at 10 bottles total. If you want to offer more generous five-ounce pours you’ll serve five people per bottle. You would then need four bottles per type of wine with a total of 16-20 bottles of wine. A good rule of thumb: have more wine than you think you need. Leftovers are never an issue. It’s better to have too many bottles than not enough.


2. A few good wine corkscrews.


3. White tablecloths and white napkins help your guest to see the color profiles of the wines.


4. A Wine Scoring Sheet to help guests identify the flavors of the wine and jot down their impressions (we provide one to the host to print).


5.  Bread or crackers (include some gluten free options).


6. Cups of ice water for your guests as well as a pitcher of water on each table.


7. Paper cups for spittoons.


Pick a good time

Since you shouldn’t be eating during the tasting as it will ruin the flavor of the wine, I would start early if possible so that a dinner can be served at the usual dinner time.


Put everything out on the table. Put your wines out on the table so the guests can see what they're going to taste and get even more excited for the night. If the table's not big enough, arrange the wines on a visible counter. Arrange the glasses, water, napkins, crackers, bread, and paper cups or spittoons for your guests.


Wine tasting techniques.

It doesn't take much to taste wine and look like an expert. Just tell your guests what they're going to drink, have them hold the glass and swirl it around for a few seconds to let the wine "breathe," and then make them smell the wine to get a better sense of the flavor.  After that, your guests should take a small sip of the wine, swirl it around their mouths for several seconds before swallowing.


Allow people to take notes of their impressions.

People may be a little nervous about this. Things to look for:

Aromas and flavors - whether it's honey, blackberry, chocolate, lemon, pear or pomegranate.

Texture and weight - See if the wine is light and crisp, full-bodied, rough, or smooth.

Balance - Does the wine have a smooth mixture of flavors, or does one flavor, dominate the beverage?

The finish - See if the wine lingers on your palate or if it disappears the second you swallow it. A good wine should linger.


Once again this is a Murder Mystery party and you want the wine tasting to be an accompaniment to the game, not the main event! Have the characters at the Winery play a part in this.


Serve Dinner.

Once your guests have had time for their mingling and sleuthing… this is the main reason for the party, you will want to serve dinner. It’s important to give guests food with a wine-tasting so the wine doesn’t make your guests tipsy. You don’t want to offer tons of wine, and not enough food to soak it all up. Remember that the food needs to be fully integrated into your event—not an afterthought. A seated meal is the best option. If you’ve already splurged financially on the wines you may want to go with an inexpensive Italian style meal, like spaghetti and salad.  Check out our inexpensive meal options blog post (here).


Lastly, create a warm, inviting atmosphere, with lighting dim enough to keep it moody, but bright enough to see the wine. With our games your guests can access their character information via their backlit cell phones. Of course, if yours guests drink too much wine make sure they get safely home without driving.


There are a variety of games that we offer here at Dinner Murder Mystery including our wine mystery gamea 1920's murder mystery party, cowboys set in a western murder mystery, a pirate murder mystery, a London mystery game and a data computer mystery game.