21 Winning Wine Tasting Food Ideas For Your Next Event

Looking for food ideas for your next wine tasting?

The best foods for wine tasting have protein, salt, and fat. These elements help keep your palate fresh while you sip. Great foods to eat with wine tasting include olives, charcuterie, cheeses, and even french fries. 

Helpful Tip: If you’re doing a red wine tasting specifically, check out foods to serve at a red wine tasting; here’s the sister post – what to serve at a white wine tasting.

Winning Idea #1 – Pairing Wine with Protein, Fat-rich, and Salty Foods

When you start to make your list of wine tasting food ideas for your next event, you’ll want to focus on three key ingredients: protein, fat, and salt.

Protein and fat will bind with tannin molecules in red wine, and also help to smooth out the burn from the alcohol in your wine.

Salt works miracles with wine, helping lift it up and seem fruitier.

Foods that are protein-rich, fatty, and salty tend to wine-philic (I just made that up)…

Seriously, though, these foods will be friendly wine partners.

So, if you want to get the most out of your wine tasting, make sure to include foods with protein, fat, and salt

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.

Here’s your list of wine tasting food ideas that incorporate salt, fat, and protein.

1. Mini Quiche

Mini quiche is a delightful wine tasting food idea. Its small size allows for easy nibbling while balancing your wine glass. The rich, creamy fillings complement the nuanced flavors of different wines.

The flaky crust adds 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

2. Sliders (Mini Hamburgers)

Image credit: Carnivore Style

Sliders are a fun and delicious wine tasting food idea for your red wine tastings, specifically. Their juicy meat and savory toppings make them an ideal match for those tannins. Plus, their small size makes them perfect for sharing and trying different wine and food combinations. 

If you can find a local restaurant to make you a selection of sliders to go, then this is an easy way to host your red wine tasting.

Think about adding some cheese or a side salad for a more substantial food and wine pairing.

3. Smoked Salmon Canapés

sliced bread with sliced tomato on brown wooden chopping board

For an elegant and luxurious addition to your wine tasting menu, consider serving smoked salmon canapés – a salmon and cream cheese bite, such as cream cheese or dill-infused crème fraîche.

Top them with a sprinkle of fresh dill or a squeeze of lemon juice for an extra burst of freshness.

These bite-sized treats not only make an easy finger food as a wine tasting food idea, but they pair well with a variety of white wines and complement light-bodied reds for those who prefer red wine options.

  • Best With: Crisp Whites, Light to Medium-bodied Reds
  • Example Wines: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Grenache, Rosé Champagne

Side Note: Champagne, Prosecco, Cremant, Sekt, Cava – all of these sparkling wines are making my mouth water thinking about this pairing. Oh yeah!

4. Tapenade

Tapenade has a more distinctive flavor profile than just straight black olives, but can be a delicious addition to your red wine snack tray.

Tapenade is a classic French spread made with olives, capers, and anchovies. It has a salty, briny flavor. Serve tapenade on crostini or alongside a selection of crackers for an elegant and Mediterranean-inspired appetizer.

  • Best With: Dry Whites, Light to Medium-bodied Reds
  • Example Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Rosé

5. Stuffed Mushrooms

stuffed mushrooms - what to eat at red wine tasting

Mushrooms bring an interesting twist as a wine tasting food idea. They have protein, but also an umami earthy quality.

With a variety of fillings that often include cheese, herbs, and breadcrumbs, these bite-sized treats offer richness and depth. Whether you opt for a vegetarian filling or indulge in bacon or sausage, you get elegance and decadence in a bite-size package.

  • Best With: Dry Reds, Medium-bodied Whites
  • Example Wines: Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese, Barbera, Chardonnay, Viognier, Gewürztraminer

6. Baguettes

wine tasting food - baguettes

Grab a fresh baguette 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.

Fresh baguettes have a simplicity and texture making it an excellent palate cleanser between wine tastings, ensuring that each wine shines.

  • Best With: All Wine Varieties (Neutral Pairing)(okay, I don’t recommend dessert wines)
  • Example Wines: White, Red, Rosé, Sparkling, Dry Fortified Wines

7. Crackers

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.

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)

8. Pizza

wine tasting food ideas - pizza

Pizza and wine? Easy. Delicious. Done. Savory pizza toppings like pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms, and even the cheese balance out red wine tannins.

What I love about pizza and red wine tasting is that it’s more substantial than small bites, helping to soften the alcohol.

It’s also painless to pick up a pizza for your tasting (okay, if you love cooking, this one’s for you, too!). 

  • Best With: Dry Reds
  • Example Wines: Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Super Tuscans, Salice Salentino, Aglianico, Petite Sirah

Helpful Tip: Go check out this quick and simple wine calculator to figure out how much wine you need for your next event based on your total guest list.

9. French Fries

wine tasting food idea - french fries

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 have fat and salt, the two flavor combos that enhance wine fruitiness and soften red wine tannins. French fries are an especially good choice if you’re going for bold red wines or high acid white wines.

They also have that salty profile that dry Sherries need, like Finos and Manzanillas.

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 touch 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

10. Potato Chips

red wine tasting foods - potato chips

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. 

  • 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. White Cheddar Cheese

You can never go wrong with a regular white cheddar cheese, so grab a block while you’re shopping for your other wine tasting foods. Chedder has a relatively neutral profile, but has that fat, salt, and a tangy nuttiness to help balance out most wines.

You can always experiment with different styles of cheese, but 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 (visit the Pinot Noir Cheese Guide here)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: blue cheese, Gouda (visit the Cab Sav Cheese Guide here)
  • 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.

Helpful Tip: Check out this post on cold appetizers that will work for your next red wine tasting.

12. Salted Nuts

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
  • Example Pairings:

13. Beer Battered Onion Rings

wine tasting food ideas - onion rings

Beer-battered onion rings are a classic and crowd-pleasing choice for a wine tasting food idea. The crispy and golden exterior, achieved through a light beer batter, provides a satisfying crunch with each bite. The sweet and tangy flavor of the onions pairs well with a range of wines, particularly those with medium to full body.

The carbonation in sparkling wines can also help cut through the richness of the batter. Serve these delectable onion rings as a delightful accompaniment to your wine selection.

  • Best With: Medium to Full-bodied Reds, Sparkling Wines
  • Example Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Chianti, Sparkling Rosé, Champagne

14. Steak Tips

wine tasting food ideas - steak tips

For meat lovers, steak tips are a hearty and flavorful option to include in your wine tasting menu. Marinated in a savory blend of spices and grilled to perfection, steak tips offer tender and juicy bites that pair well with robust red wines.

The rich and succulent flavors of the steak complement the depth and structure of full-bodied red wines, creating a memorable and satisfying pairing experience.

Consider offering a selection of red wines that can stand up to the boldness of the steak tips.

  • Best With: Full-bodied Reds
  • Example Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Barolo

15. Chips and Guacamole

chips and guacamole - wine tasting food ideas

Chips and guacamole make for an enjoyable and munch-worthy addition to your wine tasting spread. The crisp and salty chips provide a satisfying contrast to the creamy and flavorful guacamole.

The bright and zesty flavors of the guacamole pair 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

16. Pigs in a Blanket

Attribute: lisaclarke

Pigs in a blanket are a fun and nostalgic choice as a wine tasting food idea. These bite-sized treats feature cocktail sausages or mini hot dogs wrapped in flaky pastry dough.

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 a delightful contrast that pairs well with a variety of wine styles.

  • Best With: Medium-bodied Reds, Light-bodied Whites
  • Example Wines: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Beaujolais, Dolcetto

17. Baked Flatbread

Baked flatbread is a versatile and customizable option as a wine tasting food idea. Whether topped with fresh vegetables, cheese, or cured meats, flatbread offers a mouth-watering and satisfying pairing with a variety of wines.

The crispy and slightly chewy texture of the flatbread complements both white and red wines, depending on the toppings.

Consider offering a selection of flatbreads with different flavor profiles to accommodate various wine preferences and create an interactive tasting experience for your guests.

  • Best With: Crisp Whites, Light to Medium-bodied Reds
  • Example Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, Rosé

18. Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon

Prosciutto-wrapped melon offers a delightful combination of salty and sweet flavors that tantalize the taste buds. The saltiness of the prosciutto beautifully contrasts with the natural sweetness of ripe melon, creating balance in every bite.

A simple, elegant, flavor-packed appetizer.

Stick with aromatic whites and off-dry whites for the best pairing partners. You have the sugar and sweetness from the melon that you’re trying to pair up.

  • Best With: Crisp Whites and Off-dry Whites
  • Example Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Moscato d’Asti, Cava, Prosecco, Champagne

19. Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Grilled shrimp skewers offer a delicious combination of smoky and savory flavors, making them an excellent choice for a wine tasting event. The succulent shrimp, seasoned with herbs and spices, pairs beautifully with a range of white wines, especially those with vibrant acidity.

The charred edges of the grilled shrimp create an irresistible contrast to the wine, enhancing both the flavors of the food and the wine. Serve these skewers alongside a zesty dipping sauce or a squeeze of lemon for an extra touch of brightness.

  • Best With: Crisp Whites, Light to Medium-bodied Reds
  • Example Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Albariño, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Rosé

20. Caprese Skewers

Caprese skewers offer a refreshing and visually appealing option for your wine tasting event. The combination of fresh cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves creates a burst of flavors with each bite.

Skewering these ingredients adds a fun and convenient way to enjoy them while mingling and holding a wine glass. The bright and vibrant flavors of the caprese skewers pair well with crisp white wines, allowing the ingredients to shine and complementing the wine’s acidity.

  • Best With: Crisp Whites, Light-bodied Reds
  • Example Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, Beaujolais, Dolcetto, Gamay, Rosé

21. Sushi Rolls

wine tasting food ideas - sushi rolls

For a unique and elegant food pairing option, consider sushi rolls for your wine tasting. The delicate flavors and textures of sushi, combined with the umami-rich ingredients like fresh fish, seaweed, rice, and vegetables, create a culinary experience that can be enhanced by the right wine selection.

Opt for crisp and acidic whites or light-bodied reds to complement the subtlety of the sushi flavors without overpowering them.

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, Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Dolcetto, Rosé Champagne

What Foods Not to Serve at a Wine Tasting

You want to avoid foods with two specific flavors, sweetness and spice (chili heat) for most wine tastings. This means no chocolate, apples, or pepper jack cheese. Sweet foods make wine seem thin and bitter. Spicy food makes wine taste harsh.

You’ll want to be especially careful if you’re serving big, tanninc, red wines with sweet foods. This can exacerbate the tannins, alcohol, and astringency in red wine, making for an unpleasant experience.

If you’re serving off-dry whites, like Moscato d’Asti, Kabinet Riesling, Liebfraumilch, Vouvray, or Chenin Blanc, for example, then having fruit alongside will pair beautifully.

Heat from chili spice will enhance the wine’s alcohol. So watch out with spicy foods if you’re planning on serving high alcohol wines.

Final Thoughts – So Many Wine Tasting Food Ideas!

From potato chips and nuts, to pizza and french fries, you’ve got many wine-friendly food options for your next wine tasting.

Helpful Tip: Check out this post for ultimate list of finger foods for wine tasting.

If you’re drinking the wine all on its own, you’re missing out on the beauty of the interplay between wine and food. 

Aroma, flavor, and texture weave together when food and wine are paired well.

Remember: Fat-rich, salty foods with protein will complement most wines. Once you’ve covered those basics, you’re guaranteed to have a delicious time.

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.

Here are 19 cold appetizers for wine tasting – perfect for any occasion.

Wine tasting with a twist? Here’s how to host a wine tasting for beginners.

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.

Love foods with spice? Check out how to pair spicy foods with wine.

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