Trying new beers and wines is a way to bring people together for a fun and educational experience -- and you don’t have to go to a brewery or winery to do it. Try hosting your own tasting at home!

To start, Patrick Modlin, owner of Felix Street Gourmet and Room 108 in St. Joseph, says you should pick a theme to focus on for a wine tasting. Whether that be a region or certain type of grape, he says you should incorporate both reds and whites to expand your guests’ perspective.

“Don’t just go with what you know,” Modlin said. “Throw a couple things in there to get a new experience.”

Dave Kaleba, a wine and spirits specialist for Pinnacle Imports, is a vendor for Modlin’s companies. He says casting a wider net turns people on to how diverse the world of wine really is.

“Try to showcase the diversity of the region and provide opportunities for people who say ‘I don’t like red wine’ or ‘I don’t like white wine’. By having those options, it makes the party atmosphere more inclusive,” Kaleba says.

For a beer tasting, both Modlin and Kaleba also recommend sticking to a region or producer to create a common thread while still providing a variety different types to try. For either wine or beer, they say having about four to six different kinds is a good number to start with.

Another important element of a tasting event is food. But how do you go about selecting what to offer? Kaleba says you should remember this general rule: If it grows together, it goes together.

“That old adage works really well. So if you’re highlighting a cheese from a local region in France, the wines that come from that region probably have very similar characteristics and are naturally pretty good companions,” Kaleba says.

He points to history as a guideline and says in Europe, wine is just another ingredient on the table, so it’s important to consider the different foods and beverages that have gotten along together for hundreds of years.

Regardless of the theme you choose, Modlin says hosting a tasting is about learning and enjoying.

“It’s just a wonderful way to bring people together and learn together,” he says.

Meagan Miller can be reached at meagan.miller@knpn.com. Follow her on Twitter: @NPNowMiller.​