Credit: Photo Lisa Romerein; Styling: Karen Shinto

How to set up the wine for the party

Choose two wine regions Ask each guest to bring a bottle of Zin from one of them. (Coordinate so that you end up with the same number from each region, and no duplicates.) One of the regions we chose–Mendocino Ridge–produced an idea for an appetizer wine that we couldn't resist: a slightly sweet late-harvest Zin from Edmeades. We had it pegged for dessert, but winemaker Van Williamson said, "I drink way more of that before dinner than after–on the rocks, with a twist." After appetizers, open the bottles and organize them by region on the table.
Offer each guest two different-size glasses This is to distinguish between regions. If you don't have enough glassware, feel free to ask someone to bring a set–almost guaranteed to be different.
Help guests focus on the regions Make sure a Zinfandel from each region stays in front of everyone throughout the dinner.
Collect opinions Is there a consensus on differences between the regions? A favorite?
Pour more late-harvest Zinfandel This time it's for dessert. Use the same one you started out with, or another one–why stop comparing now?