So you’re planning a luxurious afternoon of wine tasting. Before heading to the tasting room, it’s a great idea to figure out food logistics.
Finding wine tasting with food options can be a bit tricky because of code restrictions and costs. Most tasting rooms only do wine. Plan your tasting adventure ahead of time by finding tasting rooms that offer small bites, researching local restaurants, packing a picnic, or eating beforehand.
Here’s what you need to know about navigating wine tasting with food.
Helpful Tip: Head over to this post for more general wine tasting food ideas if you’re looking for inspiration.
Know Before You Go
Before heading out on your next wine tasting adventure, do your research. Begin by researching the winery or tasting room you plan to visit. Learn about their wine selection, read reviews from other visitors, and familiarize yourself with the wine and food pairing options (if there are any).
Many tasting rooms don’t serve food, so you may need to bring your own.
While wine and food naturally belong together, most wine tasting rooms don’t offer small bites for visitors to enjoy alongside their wine.
Why Don’t Wine Tasting Rooms Serve Food?
- Reason #1: First, the logistics of preparing and serving food can be complex and time-consuming, especially for smaller tasting rooms with limited space and staff.
- Reason #2: Offering food can be expensive. Food preparation requires additional equipment and resources.
- Reason #3: Food licenses add to operating costs, so many tasting rooms choose to focus solely on wine.
- Reason #4: Many tasting rooms prefer to leave the food to local restaurants and other establishments. This allows the tasting rooms to focus on what they do best: wine! Plus, it gives guests the opportunity to explore the local food scene and discover new places to dine.
So most tasting rooms lack food. Why?
Logistics and cost.
But why not BYO picnic instead?
1. Bring Your Own Food or Plan a Picnic
Just because the tasting room doesn’t offer food, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a bite to eat while wine tasting.
One option is to bring your own picnic to enjoy on the grounds or nearby park. This allows you to tailor your snacks to your personal taste preferences and dietary needs.
Personal Pro Tip: I always pack a picnic when tasting at my local tasting rooms. There’s a lovely park nearby and sitting out and enjoying the afternoon is one of my perfect pairings.
If you’re visiting wine country, many wineries have patios and garden areas and they’re thrilled when guests decide to bring a picnic and enjoy a bottle of wine.
This is another reason why you want to research the tasting rooms you plan to visit ahead of time.
Wine Tasting with Food: 5 Simple Picnic Ideas
Choose items that are easy to pack, transport, and eat, such as crackers, cheese, fruits, or charcuterie (okay, takeout works, too!).
- Charcuterie Board: A tantalizing platter, perfect for a romantic picnic. The cured meats, prosciutto, and salami, are a match made in heaven with a variety of cheeses, crackers, and fruits. Enhance the flavors with nuts, olives, and luscious dips.
- Mediterranean Mezze Platter: Transport yourself and your lover to the Mediterranean with this sensuous platter. Share small plates like hummus, tabbouleh, stuffed grape leaves, and grilled vegetables. Pair it with a refreshing white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc, for a delectable combination that will leave your taste buds begging for more.
- Sandwiches and Wraps: Create a culinary masterpiece with your favorite ingredients, from succulent slices of turkey and ham to roasted veggies and creamy cheeses. Add a tantalizing touch with fresh lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and luscious condiments. Pair it with a light red wine, such as Pinot Noir, to set the mood.
- Fruit and Cheese Board: Satisfy your craving for something sweet and savory with this enticing platter. Choose from a variety of fruits like grapes, strawberries, and apples, and indulge in the creaminess of brie, the sharpness of cheddar, and the nuttiness of gouda. Add some crunch with nuts and crackers. Pair it with a refreshing white wine, such as Chardonnay, for a divine experience.
- Sushi Rolls: A feast for the senses, these tantalizing rolls are a delightful addition to any romantic picnic. Fill them with decadent ingredients like avocado, cucumber, crab, and shrimp, and let the flavors dance on your palate. Pair them with a crisp white wine, such as Riesling, for a heavenly combination that will transport you to another world.
Helpful Tip: If you have food allergies, definitely plan on bringing something safe to eat.
2. Find Tasting Rooms that Offer Small Bites
Some wine tasting rooms offer small bites that are carefully crafted to complement the wine. These menu dishes are often designed by a local chef or sommelier and are meant to enhance the wine’s flavors. If you’re unsure which tasting rooms serve food along with their wines, call ahead of time or check out their websites for more information.
Another option is to look for tasting rooms that offer small bites or partner with local food trucks or restaurants.
I’ve seen wineries partner with a variety of food trucks: brick oven pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, and even deep fried artichokes. What’s not to love about wine + food trucks?
3. Eat Beforehand
Never go wine tasting on an empty stomach. While it’s tempting to arrive at a wine tasting room before eating and plan on grabbing something along the way, it’s important to eat before you start drinking.
Eating a light meal will help you pace yourself and avoid getting tipsy too quickly.
That said, don’t eat a meal with strong flavors, like chili peppers or garlic. This can corrupt your palate.
Helpful Tip: Check out this list of wine tasting no-nos: What Not to Do at a Wine Tasting: 15 Tips for a Great Experience.
Final Thoughts – Plan Ahead If You Want to Go Wine Tasting with Food
Most of us want to be able to go out and spend a luxurious day tasting wine and nibbling small bites. Limitations with food licensing codes and added operational costs mean that not all wine tasting rooms will be able to offer food along with your tasting flight.
Take a little time to plan your next wine tasting adventure to make sure you have access to food, too.
Start by researching the tasting rooms you plan to visit, and then work backward.
Picnic? Restaurant reservations? Eat beforehand?
Figure it out ahead of time so that you don’t go hungry!
Thirsty for More?
Wine tasting can seem like a decadent affair, but it’s actually quite affordable with a little planning. Check out this post on how much it costs to go wine tasting in different regions of the US and here’s one on how to save money on wine tasting if you’re the frugal type (I am!).
Check out this post on 8 Things You MUST Know Before Going Wine Tasting for the First Time
Going wine tasting is probably the best way to learn about wine. Check out this post that covers what you should do at a wine tasting.
And if you’re new(er) to wine tastings, here’s a great list of questions you can ask to get the most out of your wine tasting adventure.
And if you’re trying to learn about wine on a budget, then you should absolutely host your own wine tasting parties at home. Check out how to host a blind tasting at home or, if you’re just getting started, how to host a wine tasting for beginners.