Tequila is a spirit rich with complexity and subtleties, and it becomes more enjoyable the more it is understood and appreciated. And sharing the bold flavors of tequila with some of your favorite people can create memories that age even better than the best añejo.
To get more acquainted with tequila and understand its complexities, the differences between Tequilas of varying age, and the characteristics that make a good tequila great, all while enjoying a fun experience with friends or family (whether in-person or virtually), we encourage you to host your own tequila tasting!
To host a tequila tasting, you’ll want to ensure you have the right equipment, not just the right tequila. You should also consider food pairings to complement your tequilas. Lastly, ensure the environment for your tasting is cozy and non-distracting so you can fully enjoy the experience of tasting your fine tequilas.
Choosing Tequila for Your Taste Testing
Most tequila tastings are based on experiencing the different flavors of blanco, reposado, and añejo tequilas (not sure of the differences between each? Check out this article). Have a bottle of each variant available. We recommend Aldez Organic Tequila for your next tequila tasting – beyond its superior quality and clean taste, the Aldez mission of eco-friendliness sets it apart even further. Organically produced and responsibly sourced from the liquor to the label, Aldez is one of the finest tequilas available and will ensure that your tasting experience is pure and delightful. Thus ends our obligatory shameless plug.
The amount of bottles you’ll need will depend on the number of people participating in the tasting. For reference, each bottle of tequila should provide about 25 pours of approximately 1 ounce, so if your group is small, one bottle of each variety is likely to be enough (and this is an appropriate moment to remind all readers to drink responsibly – tequila is delicious, but hosts need to ensure that guests do not overindulge). Do the math to determine how many bottles you’ll need for everyone attending to enjoy a taste of each type, and be sure to enjoy the tasting in the best order – from youngest (blanco) to the oldest (añejo – or if the brand offers one, extra añejo).
Tasting tequila in the order of its age ensures that you can notice how age time impacts the flavor of the tequila, and preserves the tasters’ palate properly. Since reposado & añejo are aged in oak barrels, the presence of the oak flavors can affect how the taster perceives the blanco’s flavor.
Another approach you and your fellow connoisseurs might prefer is to engage in a tasting that features several different tequila brands, where each flight features the same variant (such as each brand’s blanco) and the taster is able to compare and contrast.
Getting the Right Equipment for Your Tequila Tasting
You will want to provide yourself and your guests with all the equipment they need to have the most ideal taste testing experience. This includes: filtered, room-temperature water to drink; a spit bucket for each guest; a container of coffee beans for guests to refresh their smell between tastings; champagne flutes for the tequila (don’t have champagne flutes? Tall wine glasses will suffice in a pinch); plates and napkins for food.
With all of the above on hand, your tequila tasting will be successful, enjoyable, and dare we say, unforgettable experience for everyone who participates.
How to Taste Tequila: Sipping and Sniffing
It’s a good idea to ensure guests are hydrated beforehand. Encourage guests to take a drink of room temperature water to prepare their palates.
When the tequila is poured into the glass (usually an ounce per glass), have the guests swirl the tequila in the glass and slowly bring the glass to the nose, stopping a few inches away from the nose. Then, bring the glass closer until your nose is just about crossing the rim, while ensuring your nose is centered over the mouth of the glass rather than toward the rim, and sniff gently (no need to take deep inhales). Here’s a pro-tip: encourage all tasters to sniff with their mouths slightly open, and exhale from the mouth. Tequila is an 80-proof liquor, and a sniff can catch you off-guard and bring a tear to your eye if it’s inhaled too nonchalantly.
Once the olfactory senses have enjoyed the aromas of the tequila, take a small sip of the liquor while inhaling through your nose, but do not swallow. With the tequila still on your palate, exhale through your mouth and note the profile of the tequila as it fills your senses. After this first sip, you can take a second (slightly) larger sip. According to your own preferences, you can then swallow or spit into the provided vessel.
Once tasted, everyone is encouraged to discuss what they’ve experienced and compare their notes. Providing a tasting mat can enhance the experience (click here for an example). Utilizing a simple aid can help folks articulate their descriptions. Once the first tasting is concluded, guests should smell the coffee beans provided to refresh their sense of smell and drink some water to cleanse the palate. Repeat this process for each variant.
Best Food to Serve at a Tequila Tasting
The flavor of the tequila itself is only one of the great aspects of a tequila tasting – pairing the drinks with great food can immeasurably enhance the experience. And of course, some flavors can detract from the event.
First, to help ensure the purity of the experience, we suggest that participants refrain from eating strong flavors before the main event, as what an individual eats prior to the tasting can affect their palates even more than what they’d consume during the tasting itself. For example, tequila has natural black pepper notes, so if an individual eats something that contains black pepper, that additional spice could make the tequila flavor seem overly spicy.
During the tasting itself, guests may want to snack, so the snacks you make available should have complimentary flavors. Generally, it is best to stay on the lighter side. Great foods to serve during a tequila tasting include options like tortilla chips and guacamole, fresh fruit, pico de gallo and ceviche.
And since no one will want the festivities to end immediately after the tasting itself, we suggest having a course warmed up or prepared in advance so that it can be served shortly after the tasting concludes, followed by a flavorful dessert. Some dark chocolate or chocolate-fruit pairings are great dessert options that pair very well with aged reposado & añejo tequilas.
Wrapping Up Your Tequila Tasting
Now that you and your friends have enjoyed a true tequila tasting, enjoying fantastic liquor and delicious food with great company, all that’s left for a host is to ensure that everyone has enjoyed their beverages responsibly so that they can get home safely.
And while we’ve focused primarily on the in-person group setting for a tasting, we’d be neglectful if we didn’t highlight the option of conducting a virtual tasting! Why not hop on Facetime, Zoom, etc. with friends remotely and raise a toast to “the new normal?” Whether your tribe is separated by geography, busy schedules, or are doing their part to stay healthy, having a drink with your friends across the internet can be just as enjoyable as when you’re in the same room. And whether you’re virtual or face-to-face, don’t forget to share some photos and tag us @aldeztequila!