A Cameron Hughes Wine Tasting Party


Whenever we have guests come stay with us, we’re always looking for fun ideas to entertain. Last weekend, we had family in town and thought it was a great time for a wine tasting party. Everyone in the group likes to try new wines and we were waiting for a special occasion to use our Cameron Hughes sample pack.

A Cameron Hughes Wine Tasting Party | Bottles & Banter

If you’re new to Cameron Hughes, their goal is to provide great wines at a great value. They hunt for “needle in the haystack wines” and say it isn’t unusual to go through hundreds of samples before finding one that makes the cut. This rigorous selection process is how they find the best deals and can offer customers like us an excellent wine at a good price. They are always changing their offerings by releasing 20-30 wines a year in small lots. Their video does a slightly better job at explaining about their process.

We received the Introduction to Cameron Hughes Wine sample box, which is packed with 6 different wines and a great starter option for your first tasting party. This tasting box had the following wines:

2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Napa Valley Meritage

2014 Red Mountain Red Blend

2015 Oregon Pinot Noir

2014 Santa Ynez Valley Syrah/Grenache

2015 Santa Barbara “Limestone Cowboy” Chardonnay

You could always assemble your own grouping of wines for your tasting, but we like this sampler box because they do all the work for you. They choose high quality wines that tend to be good picks for beginners (while still likable by those with more experienced wine knowledge). I’m more of a red wine fan, so I was excited to see mostly red wines in the sampler box. It’s also important to note: when I say sampler box, the wines are still full size. No one has time for those crappy little bottles.

Before you start tasting, it’s a good idea to arrange your wines in an order that makes sense for you. We went lightest to heaviest, but you could also leave your favorites for the end. It’s also a good idea to set out some light snacks to enjoy with your wine. We had some delicious habeƱero havarti, asiago, and gouda cheese along with balsamic crackers. It helped to have something to nibble on to reset the palate in between wines. I also love the idea of pairing a different cheese with each wine.

A Cameron Hughes Wine Tasting Party | Bottles & Banter

Our basic tasting strategy was to pour small glasses and then have an open forum for everyone to give their opinion as we sampled. You could also make rating sheets as another fun idea, but we wanted to keep it casual. Our one downfall is that we poured full sized glasses to start, which we immediately corrected for the second glass. Imagine trying to get through six wine samples with full sized glasses of each. We recommend pouring small sample sizes and at the end guests can go back for a second glass of their favorite.

A Cameron Hughes Wine Tasting Party | Bottles & Banter

As I mentioned, we liked using Cameron Hughes because everything was put together for us. We just had to pull out the wines. If you’re curious what we thought of the flavor and quality of the wines, here’s a sneak peak at what our group had to say.

On to the Cameron Hughes Selection


2015 Santa Barbara “Limestone Cowboy” Chardonnay

A Cameron Hughes Wine Tasting Party | Bottles & Banter

We started with Chardonnay because it was the lightest and we were planning to ease our way in. We found it has an initial bite to it, but finishes with a soft, buttery flavor that touches all parts of your mouth. The group consensus was that it’s not a typical chardonnay, but delicious nonetheless.

2014 Red Mountain Red Blend

A Cameron Hughes Wine Tasting Party | Bottles & Banter

On to wine #2. This was a blend of cabernet, syrah, and merlot. It has a nice aroma and introduces a bright, bold red with a light oak ending.

2013 Napa Valley Meritage

A Cameron Hughes Wine Tasting Party | Bottles & Banter

Wine #3 was a meritage and to be upfront, we really didn’t know what that meant or what to expect. After our first meritage experience, we found the flavor to be vivid and strong. Speaking for our group, it was the least likable of all the wines we sampled. Perhaps that’s because we aren’t accustomed to this type of wine and didn’t really know what we were sampling.

2014 Santa Ynez Valley Syrah/Grenache

A Cameron Hughes Wine Tasting Party | Bottles & Banter

One of the group favorites! Crisp fruit flavor and tickles the senses nicely. Group summary – berry good! (get it?)

2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

A Cameron Hughes Wine Tasting Party | Bottles & Banter

We saved what we believed would be the heaviest two for last. Most of us are cabernet fans, so we were really looking forward to this one. We found it sharp like a knife. It has an oaky aroma and fuller taste. Another good pick.

2015 Oregon Pinot Noir

A Cameron Hughes Wine Tasting Party | Bottles & Banter

Pinot Noir is my favorite type of wine. So needless to say, I was pretty excited about this one and glad we saved it for last. After sampling it, the group found it to be a burst of flavor. In fact, one of our guests said “if you close your eyes, you can imagine you’re relaxing after a nice Thanksgiving meal”. It was a fantastic wine and comes highly recommended!

The Verdict?

I have to say, I really loved using this sample box for our wine tasting. It made it super easy to set up and all we had to do was arrange the tasting order. Many of these wines had a unique flavor, which made it great for beginners because they were all so different. If you’re trying to figure out how much wine to buy, we had 6 people sampling and still had about half of each bottle left over at the end. It was great to go back and re-sample our favorites.

If you’re thinking about hosting a wine tasting party, but really have no idea where to start, try out this Cameron Hughes box. It makes planning super simple. And after you get a little experience under your belt, you’ll begin to find your favorites and start hand selecting bottles for your next party!

Bottles & Banter received a Cameron Hughes sample pack to facilitate this review. All opinions are our own.

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