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What To Serve at a Wine Tasting

Offer a variety of tastes and flavors to enhance your wine tasting

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Wine tastings are a great way to attract new customers and give your already-loyal customers more reasons to come again. Wine tastings offer a little variety to what you normally serve, are a social event, and an opportunity for the curious to learn more about wine. Food pairings are essential to a successful wine tasting; don’t neglect this vital aspect of wine enjoyment.

Regional Themes for Wine Tastings

The best wine tastings are themed; usually the theme is regional. “Wines from Sicily” or even more specific regions like “Organic Wines from the Oregon Coast” are good examples. Serve the lightest wines first. Start with lighter and drier whites, and then move on to heavier or sweeter whites. If offering rose wines, offer them after the whites and before the reds. When serving reds, again, start with the lightest and brightest such as a summery Pinot Noir. The heaviest wines, such a tannic Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon, should be served as the last red wine. Dessert wines are served at wine tastings as a “dessert course,” at the very end of the tasting.

Food Pairings for Wine Tastings

When planning what food to serve with which wine, try to offer regional foods. While it is most important that the flavors of the food and wine complement each other, it enhances the experience of the customer if she gets to taste a French Chardonnay with crostini and brie, rather than cheddar cheese and crackers.

Lighter wines require foods with lighter flavors so that neither the food nor the wine overpowers the other. These are the wines to serve with salad or lightly cooked vegetables. Cheeses, chicken with fruit, and lightly seasoned pheasant also go well with whites.

As you serve heavier reds, offer heavier or gamier meats. Lamb goes especially well with Cotes Du Rhones. Venison holds up well with full-bodied Zinfandel or Merlot. But the best cuts of beef go best with the heaviest reds. Don’t forget to include hot vegetable with heavier dishes.

And dessert wines must, of course, be served with dessert. If the region customarily serves a fruit plate for dessert you may choose to do just that. Or choose a light shortcake or shortbread to go with a dessert wine.

Make sure to always have plenty of bread for customers to clear their palates between courses.

Tapas and Portions

The more wines you offer at your wine tasting, the small the portions offered should be. Nobody can eat twelve plates of food at one sitting, but you may wish to put on a tasting from a region that offers many wines.

It is perfectly acceptable to serve more than one salad dish or appetizer dish, more than one meat dish, etc. If eating a regular dinner, customers would choose between the beef and the chicken. At a wine tasting, they will enjoy some of each, but smaller portions of each to go with each wine.

In closing, study the foods and wines of the region when planning your wine tasting. Mimic, as much as you can, the traditional dishes that go with the offered wines.

Written by: Beth Taylor