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Treats for a wine tasting

If you are having a wine tasting party, or even just a sunny afternoon, relaxing with friends by the pool, appetizers served with a suitable wine can be a real hit. Choose your foods as carefully as you choose your wine and your guests will be raving - and coming back for more.

When serving several wines at a gathering, having the proper snacks will help cleanse the palate between different wines. What is more, serving the proper appetizers can turn a good wine into a great tasting wine.

Basic snacks and appetizer to serve with wine tend to be savory because salt enhances the tasting experience in the case of wine.

Basic snacks to serve with wine

Cheese - A typical accompaniment at wine tasting parties, cheese and wine go together like milk and cookies. The oils and flavors from the cheeses will help to cut some of the acidity of the wine while diluting the aftertaste of the wine... and the salt in the cheese will make an average wine to appear better.

Having a wide variety of cheeses available will make any wine tasting party a great success. It is great fun trying to pair different dairy flavors with favorite wines. Stay away from the 'smelly' variety of cheeses as they will fill the air with their special 'perfume' and do not mix well with any wine.This aroma is much better suited for very strong beer.

Crackers - A staple with many cheeses, crackers help to cleanse the palate while absorbing some of the alcohol from the back of the throat and cheeks. A tip with crackers is to keep it simple. Crackers with strong flavors may actually alter the taste of wines because they are so overpowering. Look for lightly simple salted crackers - again, the salt trick - that let the flavors of the cheese and wine come through. And, heaven forbid, do not include any cheese-flavored crackers. That just defeats the purpose.

Nuts - An assortment of different nuts is a perfect accompaniment to wine. A good assortment of nuts goes well with cheese, as well as wines. Macadamia nuts, walnuts, and almonds are great options for light, yet rich nuts to serve at a wine tasting party. You can choose to buy unroasted nuts and toast them in a skillet or cookie sheet and sprinkle with a light dusting of salt.

Dried Fruit - Since dried fruit usually have a lighter taste and a more solid texture than fresh fruit, a simple dried fruit selection can actually help to play out the fruit tastes in the wine. Dried strawberries, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, and apricots make great additions to a wine tasting party.

Cured Olives - We see more and more of these treats at prestigious parties and modern restaurants during wine tastings. The salty flavor compliments many wines, while the briny solution allows the mouth to salivate, thus recovering from some of the drier wines. Kalamata olives are an excellent choice that many people are familiar with. Be sure to provide bowls for the olive pits.

Chocolates - Rich red wine and rich dark chocolates go hand in hand. Of all the flavor combinations, this is the one that makes people purr 'aah.' Choose very good chocolate, rich in cocoa, which usually means a bit darker. You don't have to choose bitter chocolate. Look for somewhat darker, very smooth, individual chocolates that are free of fillings and nuts; you don't want anything to distract from the chocolate-wine combination. Simple, solid, smooth chocolates that melt in your mouth will be the perfect accompaniment to most any red wine.

Something more

If you want something other than basic appetizers, here are a few simple dishes you can prepare to expand your menu.

Bruschetta is a great snack for wine tasting because it combines the soaking ability of the bread along with the oily cheese and even some tomato and basil to help cut the acidity in the wines.

Bleu Cheese & Honey Dip combines Bleu Cheese with a touch of honey, to give you a delightful salty and sweet combination. To add an unexpected flavor 'oomph' to this cracker dip, add a very small amount of White Truffle Oil to the honey before mixing in the bleu cheese. This deeply rich flavor combination will definitely enhance your wine tasting.

Now, you know

Now, you know the basics for any wine tasting event, plus a few special treats to set your party apart from the others.

Serve best light snacks and finger food. Water will clean the palate between individual tastings as will do bread.

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