In this two-part series, Guest blogger Carole Solomon of Heritage Link Brands , shares her idea of a Fair Trade education – a Fair Trade wine party. Keep an eye out for part 2 next week!
Here’s a way to spread the word about Fair Trade to friends and family without screaming, preaching or annoying them! Have a wine tasting party that features Fair Trade Certified™ wine and food pairings.
Fair Trade Certified wines are produced in Argentina, Chile, and South Africa. Fair Trade wines include a broad range of varietals from producers like One World , Los Cowboys  or Step by Step . This type of party is a great way to break out of that wine “box” many of us fall into - “I only drink ______!”
Decide how many wines you want to taste. More than 10 may make it hard to keep track. If you have room, set up to three tasting stations (White, Red, Dessert or Sparkling) or divide the table into sections. Choose the order in which wines will be tasted; one at a time in single glass or side by side in a flight. For a blind tasting mark the covered bottles with a number or letter to help keep track. You can reveal wine labels after the judging.
Whether you prefer informal discussions or written scores, have these basic supplies on hand:
- 1-3 corkscrews
- drinking water
- spit bucket
- at least one wine glass per guest
Other optional items to include are scorecards, pencils, paper for notes, wine glasses at each station, ice buckets for chilling, and measured pourers.
When everyone is gathered for a fun night of tasting wines, this is the perfect time to slip in savvy Fair Trade facts or simply share why Fair Trade is important to you. Fair Trade Certified wines offer high-quality and are sustainably sourced. Along with great taste you also can share compelling stories  from the cooperatives that produce it. Purchasing or asking for Fair Trade wines by name at local stores or restaurants is the first step to alleviating poverty for farmers and workers around the world while supporting environmentally friendly practices.
Besides learning about Fair Trade, everyone will want to know some basics on how to “taste” wine.
- Judge the wine on three basic attributes – color, smell and taste.
- Observe the color and clarity of the wine in the glass. Is it clear, cloudy, dark, bright or vivid? The color gets darker as wine ages. Have fun with all the different ways to describe a shade of red or yellow. You say “garnet” and I say “brick.”
- Next, hold the glass by its base or stem and swirl to aerate the liquid and intensify its aroma. Lean in and smell. Is it fruity, earthy, floral or herbaceous?
- Finally, take a sip. This is the moment everyone has been waiting for and it’s a personal choice on whether guests want to drink or spit. Either way, while the wine is in your mouth pay attention to its body, acidity, sweetness, tannins (bitterness) and fruit flavor. Afterwards consider the finish or what flavor lingers in your mouth.
The evaluation may be a score or checklist on the attributes, or perhaps a robust discussion between friends. Taste is pretty subjective and trying new wines broadens the palate and is always a fun dinner conversation. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the wine, because that is what it is there for.
Fair Trade wines are more widely available in the U.S. with national retailers like Sam’s Club  and Target . Use the new Fair Trade Finder  application for Facebook, iPhone and Android to find wines near you.
For more info of Fair Trade Certified wine and to read producer stories, view the Fair Trade USA event guide .
Come back next week for 'Taste, Teach, Transform: Part 2', featuring a delicious Fair Trade wine selection and fun food pairing tips!
Heritage Link Brands is the largest company in North America dedicated to importing and distributing wine produced by indigenous Africans and people of African descent throughout the world. For more information, please visit our website at www.heritagelinkbrands.com  or join us on Facebook .