A wine event can be any size and scale, from a sit-down dinner to a wine tasting, classic cheese and wine party, talk or quiz.
Check first as some schools may be sensitive about holding alcohol-based events. You will need a temporary event notice even if the wine is free as part of the ticket price.
Strike a deal
If you plan to feed your guests, ask supermarkets or local shops for donations, or seek out caterers who can get a good deal through their contacts. Options for food include cheese and meat platters, a buffet or a full dinner.
For a wine-tasting event, you will need an expert. Approach local wine shops and bars, or ask your parent community. An expert can turn the event into a fantastic opportunity for learning and discussion. Offer suppliers publicity before and during the event in exchange for goods.
Pick your wines
Let your expert take the lead or ask members of the PTA committee to choose their favourites. Compare wines from the old and new world or celebrate the growing scene in Britain, where home-grown sparkling wines are receiving increasing international acclaim.
Find a venue
Your school hall is big, probably free, and generally available in the evening. Otherwise, try local community halls or ask restaurants and bars if they have a room for hire. If you live near a vineyard, ask if they have on-site facilities.
Add another dimension
To raise extra funds on the night, add a wine quiz, bottle tombola, wine raffle or silent auction.
Box out: On the night
- Provide enough wine glasses, corkscrews and somewhere to store the wine at the right temperature.
- Put your guests at ease. Encourage people to express what they like or don’t like about each wine and don’t worry about right or wrong answers.
‘We run our wine evening like a quiz’
I’d thoroughly enjoyed wine-tasting events before and wondered if one might work for the PTA. As well as being a novel way to raise funds, I thought it would give the adults something just for them.
We’ve held the event for the past two years, attracting around 100 people and raising over £1,000 each time. A local wine merchant, Martinez Wines, supplies five wines and tasting notes. This year they charged £12.50 per person and we priced tickets at £20, which includes a glass of fizz on arrival. We also ran a ‘re-gifting raffle’ with unwanted Christmas gifts donated by the committee as prizes.
The evening operates like a quiz with some Call My Bluff-style rounds, where participants try to identify wines from three sets of tasting notes, and rounds where we ask people to identify the dominant tastes or aromas of a particular wine or correctly choose the foods that complement it. The team with the most points at the end wins a bottle of wine of their choice from the ones we’ve tasted over the evening.
Everyone loves that we also offer bread and cheese, which our local supermarket, Booths, donates for free. In return, we publicise them in our marketing material and with a shout-out on the night.
At the end of the event, attendees can order bottles of the wines they have sampled. The wine merchant gives us ten per cent of the total order value as a contribution to our fundraising.
- Jane Wearing, PTA chair, Ilkley Grammar School, West Yorkshire (2,083 pupils)