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Easy Ideas to Host a Wine Exchange Party

overhead shot of wine bottles

Gather your friends for a grown-up wine gift swap. You’ll try new-to-you wines, raise a glass with your friends, and share favorite bottles as gifts, too. These three steps make hosting the party of the season a snap.

Step One: The Prep

Inviting friends can be as casual or formal as you like—old-fashioned mailed invitations or simply a group text. What’s important is the instruction: Every guest needs to bring two bottles of the same wine. One will be used to taste and one will be used as a gift.

Next, make sure your kitchen is stocked with ample glasses that are large enough for swirling; if desired, you may want to have a spit bucket on hand, too. You may also want some small bites that pair well with a range of wines: mild cheeses, crostini, and cured meats. To make it even easier, stop by the Publix Deli for Publix Deli Holiday Cheeses, and the Publix Bakery for ready-to-go sweet-treat platters.

Step Two: The Tasting

Begin the night with a house wine cocktail or bottle of bubbly to whet your guests’ palates and kick off the evening with a celebratory toast.

To start the tasting, line up the wine along a table, bar, or countertop. The lightest wines—sparkling, sauvignon blanc, and other light whites—should be on the left. Follow them with full-bodied whites and lighter red wines like pinot noir. End with the heavier reds: cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, shiraz, and red blends.

Consider using mini chalkboards or small cards listing the person who brought each wine. Instruct your guests to taste the wines, allowing plenty of time for revisiting and discussion. You may also want to provide notepads and writing utensils for names of the wines and tasting notes, and for guests to mark their favorites.

Step Three: The Swap

Pass a number around to each guest. Starting with number one, each guest gets to select a bottle from the lineup. But while there are advantages to having your pick early on, there’s a game afoot: Rather than choosing a bottle from the lineup, the guest has the option to steal from an earlier pick, and each bottle can be stolen twice. If someone has a bottle stolen, they get to steal another bottle in return.

Tip: Have a stack of simple wine bags with handles. If your guests are crafty, provide an assortment of ribbons and stickers to deck their bottles before heading home for the night.

Publix promotes responsible drinking and supports efforts to fight alcohol abuse and underage drinking. Please visit the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility at for more information.