If you’re in the habit of hosting last-minute wine tastings, or just not that into cooking, then you’ll want super easy appetizer options.
The easiest appetizers for wine tastings are pre-packaged, shelf-stable, or easy to grab and go. Foods like popcorn, chips, cheese, olives, and even sushi are great appetizer options that complement wine tastings.
Helpful Tip: If you’re just getting started with wine, here’s a rundown of how wine and food pairing works – I wrote this simple post just for you.
What Are the Easiest Wine Appetizers?
If you’re for low-stress, low-output, high-reward wine party planning, then you’ll want to stick to pre-packaged foods, shelf-stable foods, or foods that you can easily pick up on from a local grocer or favorite take-out restaurant.
The foods listed below are all easy to find and you can make them with minimal effort.
As a busy mom, professional, blogger, and avid wine drinker, I’ve incorporated all of these appetizers over the years. Often, the best get-togethers are the last-minute ones that you can throw together. Enjoy!
Helpful Tip: Check out this post for ultimate list of finger foods for wine tasting (for red and white wines).
1. Fresh French Bread – Grab and Go
Grab a fresh baguette or loaf of French bread anytime you’re thinking about wine tasting food ideas.
Their crisp crust and soft interior make them ideal for soaking up the wine’s flavors. Serve them plain or with a smear of some of that tapenade on top for added layers of flavor – even dipping in extra virgin olive oil adds a savory touch of layered flavors.
Fresh baguettes have a simplicity and texture making them an excellent palate cleanser between wine tastings. Make each wine shine.
Best With: All Wine Varieties (Neutral Pairing)(okay, I don’t recommend dessert wines)
Example Wines: White, Red, Rosé, Sparkling, Dry Fortified Wines
2. French Fries – Grab and Go or Frozen
French Fries are another quickie idea if you’re looking for a casual food pairing for as you consider different wine tasting food ideas.
French fries are an especially good choice if you’re going for big red wines or high acid white wines. They also have that salty profile that dry Sherries need, like Finos and Manzanillas.
You can pick up fries at your local takeout restaurant or keep a package of frozen fries in your freezer for last-minute wine tastings (this is what I do).
Careful! Some foodies like having mayonnaise with their french fries. Mayo can be a tricky wine food. Take this as a great opportunity to experiment.
If you are one of those who enjoy french fries with mayonnaise, pair your fries with high acid white wines, like Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, or sparkling wines (Prosecco, Cava, and Champagne). Sprinkle with truffle salt for a dash of decadence.
Best With: Dry Reds, Whites, Roses, Sparkling Wines, Dry Sherries
Example Wines: Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Fino, Manzanilla, Picpoul, White Rioja, Verdejo, Prosecco, Cava, Champagne
3. Pizza – Grab and Go or Frozen
Pizza is always a wine tasting winner. Keep a frozen pizza on hand and slice it up for last-minute small bites. If you’re really on a budget, you can do frozen pizza rolls.
Easy. Delicious. Done.
Savory toppings like pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms, and even mozzarella cheese balance out wine acid and tannins. What I love about pizza as an easy appetizer for wine is that it’s more substantial than other small bites, helping soften the effects of alcohol.
Best With: Dry Reds
Example Wines: Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Super Tuscans, Salice Salentino, Aglianico, Petite Syrah
4. Fried Onion Rings – Grab and Go or Frozen
Battered and fried onion rings are a classic and crowd-pleasing choice easy wine tasting appetizer. A golden, crunchy exterior with a light batter make this another substantive appetizer for your tasting party.
Pick up some onion rings from your favorite bar on the way home, or keep a bag of frozen onion rings on hand for last-minute tasting events.
Throw your frozen onion rings in the toaster oven and you’re all set.
Personal Pairing Favorite: My favorite pairing for onion rings is Fino Sherries. OMG – cerebral.
Helpful Tip: Wine tasting with a twist? Here’s how to host a wine tasting for beginners.
Onion rings pair well with a range of wines, particularly those with medium to full body.
Even the carbonation in sparkling wines will cut through the richness of the batter for a palate-cleansing experience.
Best With: Medium to Full-bodied Reds, Sparkling Wines
Example Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Chianti, Sparkling Rosé, Champagne, Dry Sherries
5. Mini Quiche – Frozen or Grab and Go
Quiche makes another perfect, easy appetizer for wine tasting. Go pre-made with frozen quiches (or pick one up at a local baker). The mini size gives guests an easy way to nibble in one hand and hold the all-important wine glass in the other.
Quiche’s rich, creamy fillings complement the nuanced flavors of different wines.
Flaky crusts add a delightful textural contrast
Bite-sized portions enable guests to sample a variety of quiches and wines, so you can do a vegetarian option.
Best With: Dry Wines, Sparkling Wines, Off-Dry Wines (avoid sweet fortified wines)
Example Wines: Grenache, Pinot Noir, Gamay (Beaujolais), Chenin Blanc, Bordeaux (white or red), Riesling, Champagne, Cava, Prosecco…the list continues…be expansive
6. Chips and Guacamole – Grab and Go
Chips and guacamole make for an indulgent and munch-worthy easy appetizer for wine tasting. Crisp, salty chips give a satisfying contrast to rich, chunky guacamole.
Guacamole’s bring profile pairs well with a variety of wines, including crisp whites, light-bodied reds, and even sparkling wines.
The acidity and fruitiness of the wines enhance the freshness of the guacamole, creating a balanced and enjoyable pairing.
Best With: Crisp Whites, Light-bodied Reds, Sparkling Wines
Example Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Rosé, Beaujolais, Lambrusco, Prosecco
7. Pigs in a Blanket – Frozen
Pick up a box of frozen, pre-made pigs in a blanket. These little sausages wrapped in buttery pastry offer protein, fat, and salt, making them perfect, easy partners for your red wine tastings.
The savory and slightly smoky flavors of the sausages complement a range of wines, particularly medium-bodied reds and even some lighter whites.
The combination of the rich and savory sausage with the buttery pastry creates wrap create a contrast that pairs well with a variety of wine styles.
Best With: Medium- to full-bodied Reds, Light-bodied Whites
Example Wines: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Beaujolais, Dolcetto
8. Chips – Shelf-Stable
Most wine tastings include crackers of some sort. Their neutral flavor allows the wine to shine. Recommend getting salted crackers.
Salt will make the wine seem fruitier (always a plus).
What else do I love about crackers for my wine tastings?
They’re versatile and shelf-stable making them a go-to as one of my favorite wine tasting food ideas.
Helpful Tip: Do you already know what wines you’ll be tasting? If not, head over to this quick post on the world’s major winegrowing regions and their signature grapes.
It’s easy to keep them on hand for a last-minute tasting. Try adding some soft cheese as a way to balance out tannins if you’re tasting red wines.
Best With: Any Dry, Off-dry, or Sparkling Wine (no dessert wines)
9. Olives – Shelf Stable or Grab and Go
When it comes to easy appetizers for wine tasting, olives should always have a place on your table as the ultimate savory delight. These little flavor bombs are perfect for popping in your mouth while sipping on your favorite wines.
With their rich and briny taste, olives offer that much-needed contrast that complements a wide range of wine varietals.
Fun Wine Fact: Professional wine tasters use black olives in water to help cleanse their palate during long tasting days.
What I love about olives, is that you can usually find a variety at your local grocer to mix-and-match. Here’s a quick guide for wine and olive pairing:
Red Wines: Kalamata Olives, Black Olives in Water
White Wines: Green Olives, Stuffed Olives with Pimentos
Dry Sherries: Any Olives – the more olives the better
10. Potato Chips – Easy and Shelf-Stable
Potato chips are the shelf-stable counterpart to french fries. Like fries, they have salt and fat. I keep a bag of potato chips in my pantry for last-minute tasting parties because that’s what wine people do.
Stick with basic flavored ships: sea salt, black pepper, paprika, vinegar. Stay away from spicy chips or chips with very strong seasonings.
Best With: Dry Reds, Whites, Roses, Sparkling Wines, Dry Sherries
Example Wines: Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Fino, Manzanilla, Picpoul, White Rioja, Verdejo, Prosecco, Cava, Champagne.
11. Cheese – Grab and Go
You can never go wrong with wine and cheese. I’m a and of white cheddar, which has a relatively neutral profile, but has that fat, salt, and a tangy nuttiness to help balance out most wines.
Keep in mind different wine styles will impact your flavor combinations. White cheddar is always a winner.
Here are few other quick wine and cheese combos:
- Pinot Noir: Soft cheeses like chevre, and brie
- Cabernet Sauvignon: blue cheese, Gouda
- Moscato d’Asti: Soft cheeses like chevre, and brie
- Chardonnay: Manchego, Mozarella
If finding all of these different cheeses is one-too-many steps, then stick to your white cheddar and you’ll be fine.
12. Salted Nuts – Easy and Shelf-Stable
Almonds, peanuts, cashews, and walnuts are all excellent, nutty wine tasting food ideas.
Like french fries and potato chips, they have salt and fat, but also protein, to balance out your wine and enhance perceptions of fruitness and sweetness.
Personal Note: I always have salted almonds in my pantry for tastings. And did you know that nuts make a fabulous inexpensive gift for wine lovers?
Nuts are shelf stable, so easy to keep on hand. Go buy some nuts.
Best With: Dry Reds, Whites, Roses, Sparkling Wines, Fortified Wines
Salted Almonds: Any wine
Walnuts: Madeira, Sherry
Pistachios: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Torrontes
13. Sushi Rolls – Grab and Go
If you’re fortunate to have a local sushi bar, then you have the perfect go-to easy appetizer for your next white wine tasting.
Sushi, with its umami-rich ingredients like fresh fish, seaweed, rice, and vegetables, create a culinary experience that can be enhanced by the right wine selection.
Stick with crisp and acidic whites or light-bodied reds to complement the subtlety of the sushi flavors without overpowering them.
Personal Favorite: I LOVE sushi with Fino Sherry and off-dry, inexpensive Kabinet Rieslings.
Experiment with different types of sushi rolls, such as tuna, salmon, or vegetable, to explore exciting wine and sushi combinations.
Best With: Dry Whites, Light-bodied Reds
Example Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Dolcetto, Rosé Champagne, Dry Sherries
14. Popcorn – Shelf Stable
Popcorn is another easy appetizer for wine because you can keep it in your cupboard or pantry and pop it right before your tasting party (assuming you don’t mind a house that smells like popcorn – otherwise, pop several hours beforehand).
You don’t need anything other than basic oil and salt (butter is fine), but you can add flavorings to take your popcorn to the next level.
Gourmet popcorn comes in a variety of flavors:
- Truffle Salt
- Smoked Paprika
Sprinkle any of these flavorings on top and you’re in for a treat!
I personally enjoy the parmesan and truffle salt options.
The crunchy goodness of popcorn adds a playful and textural element to your wine tasting.
Helpful Tip: Thinking of including red wines? Check out this post on cold appetizers that will work for your next red wine tasting.
You can pair popcorn with a range of wines, including dry whites, light to medium-bodied reds, or even sparkling wines, to find the perfect balance between the popcorn’s flavors and the wine’s characteristics.
Best With: Dry Whites, Light to Medium-bodied Reds, Sparkling Wines
Example Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Prosecco, Champagne
Final Thoughts – The Easiest Appetizers for Wine Tasting Are Frozen, Grab-and-Go, or Shelf Stable
From your local sushi bar, olive bar, or frozen section at the grocery store, the easiest appetizers for wine tasting are quick and delicious pairing partners to an assortment of wine styles.
Before heading to the store, think about the wines you’ll be serving and let that guide your shopping list.
Remember that salt, fat, and protein will help elevate most wines, and serving appetizers with one or more of these elements will work well for you.
Thirsty for More?
You should absolutely host your own wine tasting parties at home. This is probably the best way to learn about wine. Check out how to host a blind tasting at home.
If you’re doing different types of wine, then here’s a helpful how-to guide that will tell you what order to drink your wines in every time.
Helpful Tip: If you’re looking for cold appetizers for any wine (red or white), then head over to this post that covers all cold appetizer ideas for wine tasting.