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Best hors d'oeuvres for wine tasting?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
What are the best hors d'oeuvres for wine tasting?

Something that can be served room temperature or cold.

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post #2 of 13
In my opinion, munchies served at a wine tasting should be content to play a supporting role to the wines, not trying to elbow their way to the podium. This is probably not the place for your Ring of Death garlic habanero meatballs. I tend to prefer simpler fare in such situations, like fresh grapes, melon cubes, strips of raw bell pepper and an assortment of not too overpowering cheeses. Then again, a blob of roquefort on a good cracker, washed down by some assertive big red can be quite an experience.

Cold cuts are nice. Forget the proscuitto, even though it is quite tasty. See if your Italian deli has speck, which is similar but not quite. Or perhaps you have a German oriented place handy, and can get some good Westphalian ham. A good chicken liver pate to spread on some of the crackers and breads you'll be serving is nice, as well as some herbed butters. Perhaps a little medallion of rare roast beef on a chunk of toasted bread, topped with a wave of mustard or mayo and a caper or two. Smoked fish, like salmon or chub. Grilled or roasted white asparagus spears with hollandaise. If you've got the time, a batch of parmesan crisps. Stuffed mushrooms. Grilled garlic - lemon shrimp. Candied pecans and blue cheese crumbles in endive leaves.

You want the food to be a pleasant interlude to the wines, you don't want your guests to be chugging it down trying to rinse out the taste of Aunt Matilda's anchovy- brussels sprout creampuffs. Keep pitchers of ice water with lemon at hand for that task.

I'm just rambling off some quick ideas, nothing cuttng edge, some old standbys, but perhaps something will be of some use to you, inspire something appropriate.

mjb.
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post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks! Good suggesgtions!
post #4 of 13
It depends on which wines you're tasting.

You can't choose anything which excites the taste buds or the palate.
Consider the four (or five, coutning umami) taste bud receptors. Consider which foods hit the palate hard.

Certain foods will affect the ability to taste. Among them roquefort. It is both very salty and aromatic. While it's good with many wines, it's a disaster with others. That means you'd have to restrict the tasting to only those wines with which it partners well.

Your safest choices are breadss and crackers with very mild cheeses like cheddars, edam, gouda, chevre, mildly herbed, mild Swiss (like Jarlsber) and so forth; bland seafoods like poached shrimp; mild meats (ham, roastbeef) and sausages, etc.

You have to watch out for foods that will make sweet wines taste sweeter or drier do the same to dry wines. For instance, artichokes are notorious for making wines taste sweeter -- so no artichoke spinach dip. That sort of thing.

Bland, bland, bland. And only mildly salty.

BDL
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post #5 of 13
It depends on which wines you're tasting.

You can't choose anything which excites the taste buds or the palate, nor anything that lingers too long. Consider the four (or five, coutning umami) taste bud receptors -- salty, hot (like pepper), sour and sweet. Consider which foods hit the palate hard.

Certain foods will affect the ability to taste. I strongly disagree with Teamfat about Roquefort and most other moldy blues as being appropriate for most wine tastings -- which usually include a variety of wines. Roquefor is very salty (taste bud), aromatic (palate), and lingering. While it's good with many wines, it's a disaster with others. That means you'd have to restrict the tasting to only those wines with which it partners equally well.

Your safest choices are breads and crackers with very mild cheeses like cheddars, Edam, Gouda, mild soft goat-cheese, mildly herbed cream cheeses, mild Swiss (like Jarlsberg) and so forth; bland seafood like poached shrimp, and smoked trout spread; mild meats (ham, roast beef) and sausages, etc. And again, you have to consider if some of the wines you're choosing partner some of the particularly well or poorly. You're not trying to provide an evening of food and wine; you're tyring to provide an evening of wine consideration.

Another thing to look out for is foods which make sweet wines taste sweeter or drier do the same to dry wines. For instance, artichokes and asparagus are notorious for making wines taste sweeter because of the way they affect the palate.

Bland, bland, bland. And only mildly salty.

BDL
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post #6 of 13
Dovetailing off of BDL's post above its also about what your client's expectations are. Is your tasting about selling the wines being displayed? If your goal is to make the wines involved all seem outstanding than you've got to stick mild protein flavours (cheeses and such as described above). Mild seasoning is the order of the day. No kimchi, no wasabi, and so on.

If you've been contracted to provide canapes for a for wine buyers, or even a wine club, your playground expands. "Wine people" are often more open and excited by the effect of wine playing with food than simply "is it good?" In this sort of group you use stuff that would react dramatically with different wine styles. Because your audience will be all over that sort of distinction. Real wine freaks will be all over how a round of quick pickled beet topped with goat cheese and pine nut plays against a New Zealand Riesling vs a late harvest Cab Franc.

Easiest audience would be be people with copious disposable income who really liked that movie with Fraser's brother and thought a wine party would be fun. Anything in a fried wonton, in like Flinn.

--Al
post #7 of 13
Yes, I probably should have been more precise with the roquefort comment. The non-overpowering cheeses was the recommendation, the roquefort was a side note. Strong cheeses like that can make a lot of good, capable wines taste like bad vinegar strained through a dirty sock. If possible, try to sample some of your proposed hors d'oeuvres with a representative of the type of wines that you'll be tasting, looking for combinations that may seem good on paper, but just don't quite work in practice.

Hmm. I knew that about 'chokes, but not about asparagus. I still have some roasted spears left over from the other day in the fridge, maybe I'll stop at the wine store tomorrow and experiment for myself. Sometimes life is rough, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

It seems counterintuitive - people at a wine tasting are likely to be foodies who appreciate a wide variety of tastes, experiments in flavor and such. It seems like a perfect opportunity to come up with a fantastic array of exotic goodies. But a wine tasting is not the place to wow them with the food. Wow them with the wine, the food should be more like low volume background music. Yanni, not Jagger.

mjb.
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post #8 of 13
Crocodile steak.
post #9 of 13

Hi MJB

 

Thank you for such a lovely assortment of options, typically I go the simple route. I think I'll venture out of my comfort zone with another level of munchies for my blind tasting this weekend. LA
 

post #10 of 13

Mild Cheeses and low spice bites are best.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #11 of 13

A lot has been said. BDL said words of wisdom.

I will add: carefull with acidity. No pickles, no vinegar, no lemon, etc. Drastic change of palate sensitivity for wine tasting.

Anyway, i never understood wine tastings. 

post #12 of 13

Wine tasting that spans different wines suggest the need to clean one's palate between tasting. Typically, plain crackers and drinking or rinsing the mouth with water gets the job done. Place a crock on the table where the taster's can pour off their excess water or wines they cannot finish. Palate cleansers are things that have little or no after taste.

 

If you want the food to share the stage with the wines, consider both palate cleansers and small courses or tastes paired to the wine your are serving. A resource useful to you may be http://www.foodandwinepairing.org/

 

Bold flavors are paired with bold wines and visa versa. I am very fond of chocolate with a bold fruity cabernet sauvignon.

post #13 of 13

The best foods for wine tasting?

Sort of a loaded question as wines pair with food so differently and you are only tasting.

An all around great choice?!

You need a good robust bread with some salt and great cheeses.

No Velveeta or saltine crackers.

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