Wine tasting party - what to bring?? Bread/dip maybe?

gardenwebberSeptember 18, 2008

Hi all!

Can anyone help with some appetizer ideas to bring to a wine tasting party? Would appreciate some wine recommedations, too, as wine/food pairing is something I knwo little about.

I am partial to red wine, and was thinking of some sort of bread with a hot dip such as artichoke dip. Does anyone have any good recipes for either?

Or, maybe a bread that has enough flavor in itself where I wouldn't need the dip. I have a bread machine, if that is a consideration.

Thanks in advance!

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Is this a party for drinking wine and nibbling at appetizers? Or a party where you seriously or semi seriously taste different wines and and pair them with recommended foods?
And are you also supposed to bring a bottle fo wine? And what price for a bottle is comfortable for you?
Makes a difference what to recommend.
Linda c

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 10:36AM
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I am comfortable with anything $20 and under per bottle.

This is a semi-serious party, I guess. On the invitation, we were asked to bring a bottle of wine, some information about the wine, and a snack to go with it.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 10:48AM
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Bring a Zinfandel and make Chocolate Decandence. Call yourself the dessert hero!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 11:20AM
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I'm going to be a jerk now and say.....Some hosts! What are they providing? How many people are invited?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 11:21AM
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If you can find a late harvest Zin, all the better.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 11:22AM
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If you are taking the artichoke dip I'd bring a Pinot Grigio.

Now I'm hungry.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 11:23AM
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Barnmom - thats sounds like a good idea, actually, thanks!

Shermann - whats the big deal? Everyone brings one bottle of wine to pass around and a snack? Host will probably provide tasting crackers, testing glasses, mood music, an additional bottle of wine/snack, as well as deal with the mess and pressure of preparing/cleaning up after the gathering. ??

Do tell, how would YOU go about hosting a wine tasting party? What would you do differently? (genuinely curious)

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 11:54AM
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Well - I have been to several tasting parties and they are as individual as the hosts!

Some are as you described - everyone brings a bottle and and an app. Some have been done by the host/hostess where they provide everything including staff.

As far as what sort of wine to bring and an appetizer to go with it... that is really individual choice! I personally don't care for artichokes with wine. It just is not a pleasant taste combination for me.

I would lean towards bringing a very nice cheese and a bottle of wine. I googled the following chart from Gourmet Sleuth and it has a lot of options. If this is really all about learning about the wines then it is not the time to try to showcase your elaborate culinary creations. The food should be the supporting cast for the wine, not the other way around. Oh, and water crackers are a nice neutral choice for crackers.

Here is a link that might be useful: wine and cheese pairings

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 12:50PM
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I zecond a zinfandel ( NOT white zinfandel but a good fruity dark zin!) and the chocolate....the combo is beyond divine!
And I also believe there is something about artichokes that make wine taste strange.
Possibilities...Italian mini meatballs in a chafing dish with a red amrinara sauce and a nice chianti.
Melted cheese fondue and a gwirtztraminner or piesporter
How about a double glouster with an australian merlot?
Consider a perfectly ripe brie ( do not bake, it gets gummy upon standing!) and a lovely dry crisp chablis?
Lots of possibilities...just remember to keep the focus on the wine.
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 1:44PM
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I agree with Alexa, wine tasting gatherings are like book discussion groups. Sometimes it's a serious gathering focused on the wine and other times it's a pleasant time with good friends with wine and food at a theme. If you are seriously exploring wines it helps to have a real oenophile present who can act as a mentor/leader if the group gathered is not composed of serious winos.

I have been to parties where we did blind tastings of a singular varietal. That's fun, too.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 1:56PM
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Well, I provide everything, including the wine, just as I do for any other party I host. I've only had two wine-tasing parties, and both times someone did bring a bottle of wine, which we just added to the table.

That's how I prefer to be a guest, too, although I have been to quite a few parties we each bring something to. That's not how I like to entertain, though.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 1:57PM
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Hmm... interesting, sherrmann - thank you for sharing!

I like the neat twists and turns this thread has taken. On the topic of entertaining, I like to provide everything for my guests, and I also tend to insist on bringing something when I am invited over. I guess I am a bit of an over-doer.

LindaC - I have to admit, some of your ideas are very much "over my head" but I think I could handle the zin/chocolate combo. Actually, I am trying to decide between that and the Pinot Grigio/dip or the wine/cheese idea.

I am really not a wine expert. Huge fan! But, not very experienced. Here's to hoping to gain much knowledge at this gathering!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 2:30PM
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Don't make the mistake I did and take artichokes or artichoke dip. Artichoke is a wine killer. With red wine it produces an odd taste, which I find pleasant but which throws the flavor of the wine way off. My friends were kind enough to overlook my faux pas, but now I know better.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 2:36PM
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Ok, that is way too many votes against the artichoke dip - I am officially crossing it off the list!

Now, I am fearful that someone else will think of the chocolate/zin combo.

I am back to wondering about a nice red and some sort of bread. Maybe with an herb butter spread? Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 3:12PM
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There is a good reason wine and cheese is served on so many occasions. Cheese is neither very sweet nor very sour, so it doesn't conflict with the wine. Neither does butter or various bread products. Herbs can be combined with any of these to good effect. In other words, I think you are on the right track with that idea.

Sorry, but I'm not overflowing with specific ideas just now. But I would go for something light and simple, maybe some sort of crostini or bread sticks. A dip would be fine too, just lose the artichokes.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 3:54PM
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I think that if I wanted to contribute some to the party...other than wine and a snack...I would go to my liquor store, find something form a small but "
interesting" winery...research the winery, find out all I could....and then choose the snack to go with the wine.
So...even if the wine doesn't prove to be interesting at least your information will be.
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 4:55PM
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What about a compound butter with a gerat crusty loaf of bread?

Compound Butter Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
1 pound butter
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped

Dough scraper
Standing mixer
Parchment paper or plastic wrap

Chop the butter into uniform chunks using the dough scraper.
Place the oil into the food processor and add the chives. Process until the chives are finely chopped. Add the remaining herbs and blend until the herbs have colored the oil. Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter in the mixer's work bowl at medium speed until it softens and lightens in color, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the herb oil to the butter and beat for another 2 minutes until oil is fully incorporated. Remove butter from bowl and spoon onto parchment paper or plastic wrap. Roll into a log, using the edge of a baking sheet to form a tight log. Chill for 2 hours before serving.

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 minutes
Yield: 2 logs
User Rating:

Episode#: EA1C08
Copyright © 2006 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 5:23PM
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Who has made puff pastry sticks? I searched the forum for a while and gave up, but I'm sure it must have been discussed. They seem easy but are they good? I'm thinking maybe coated with seeds or ground nuts and no cheese. Or maybe cheese, as is usually called for.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 5:35PM
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These are EXCELLENT and very easy to make and similar to what Kim is talking about....


frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed but kept chilled
2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
(very thinly sliced fresh sages leaves and strips of proscuitto)

Special equipment: Silpat (available at cookware stores) or parchment paper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheets with Silpat or parchment.

Sprinkle some cheese on a work surface and cover it with a puff pastry sheet. Then sprinkle more cheese evenly over pastry sheet and roll it out into a 10-inch square with a rolling pin. Fold in two opposite sides of the square so that the sides meet in the center. Fold in same sides of the pastry again to meet in center. Fold one half of the pastry over the other. Cut pastry crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Dip cut sides of each piece in cheese and arrange, a cut side down, on lined baking sheet.
Repeat with three remaining pastry sheets.

Bake palmiers in batches in middle of oven until golden on bottom, about 12 minutes. Turn over and bake until golden on bottom, 5 to 7 minutes more, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Makes 64

Gourmet 2002

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 6:07PM
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Sorry Jim! My typos are legendary - I totally spologize!

Here is one of the breadstick recipes.

Parmesan Puff Pastry Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold pastry sheets. Cut each sheet into 13 strips, about 3/4 by 10-inches apiece.

In a shallow dish, combine cheese, basil, and garlic. Brush pastry sticks with melted butter. Roll pastry in cheese mixture, lightly coating each side. Gently twist pastry sticks, and place on a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10
CookTime: 12
Yield: about 26 breadsticks
User Rating

Episode#: PA0908
Copyright © 2006 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 6:10PM
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I think this will link to the recipe and photo....

Here is a link that might be useful: recipe with photo

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 6:12PM
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I'm beginning to think we ought to crash this party that Gardenwebber's going to!

I wish I had a good suggestion, but what every one else has suggested sounds so good I'll have to copy this whole thread.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 7:31PM
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"Now, I am fearful that someone else will think of the chocolate/zin combo. "

What's the problem? Can you ever have too much chocolate??

I hosted a wine tasting dinner party last month, and someone here (thanks muchly to all who replied to my deparate pleas!), referred my to the following very useful site, which includes lots of good recipes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Another Wine/Food Pairing resource

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 12:57AM
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Im a Cab Sauv drinker and under $20 my favorites are J. Lohr (Calf) Twenty Bench and Hess....very very good for the price.I have a glass of J.Lohr every night..I swear its good for the heart lol! As for an appetizer I love the Brie with carmelized sweet onion on top with good crackers (Pepperidge Farms or Club). Ive never had a complaint when i put this out and it can be set up a day ahead and baked right before serving or in a pinch i have microwaved also.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 8:34AM
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How about brie baked in a puff pastry with a bottle of Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 10:58AM
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Got another one for ya:

How about a gift for the hostess? I was thinking about giving her a book about wine - any suggestions? Would "Wine for Dummies" be tacky?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 1:26PM
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I think many people will be doing the wine/cheese combo. One thought is to keep your wine and food from the same geographic region. For example, if you want a Tuscan red wine, maybe a nice Rosso di Montalcino, then perhaps a nice foccacia bread with olives and parmesan and rosemary.
If you're going Provence, France, perhaps a nice Rhone with good bread and tapenade spread.

Some things I'd in general stay away from  anything with a lemon or vinegar base. Without really understanding specific wines, you can really get in trouble.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 10:07PM
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I think there are wine gift books with more inviting titles. What about a photo book of wine country images? Is there a wine region close to where you live or one the host might wish to visit?

Wine guides like the "Dummies" book become outdated each year as new vintages are released. Yes, there is information that doesn't become dated.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 7:17PM
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I agree completely with spacific. It's good advice.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 10:44PM
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Something I like with wine is a spread I make with equal parts gorgonzola and marscapone cheese, with added toasted walnuts or hazelnuts. This is fantastic spread on crusty whole grain sourdough bread, and with many kinds of wine. Is also nice to add sliced pears.

I also like smoky eggplant dip which is made by roasting an eggplant and then peeling it and putting it in the food processor with a small jar of roasted red peppers. That goes good on bread too, and with wine. You can doll it up with whatever other italian condiments you like, but it is good plain too.

I also have served Chase's homeade boursin to raves. Since I have an herb garden it is a fun summer thing to serve with bread and wine.

Home Made Boursin with Herbs
1 lb Farmers cheese or 1/2 lb cottage cheese & 1/2 lb Ricotta
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter,softened
4 large garlic cloves,minced
2 medium shallots,minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley,chopped finely and packed tight
1/2 cup chopped fresh thyme OR 2/3 cup fresh dill chopped finely
1/3 cup chives,chopped finely
1 tsp pepper,freshly ground
1/4 tsp cayenne
Blend the cheeses and butter, add the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Store in small crocks or ramekins in the fridge until well chilled.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 12:37AM
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I'm not too much of a wine drinker, but I've served this in a pinch.

A good brie cheese room temp
Major Greys chutney in a small serving bowl
Water crackers

First a schmear of cheese, a dollop of chutney on top of the water cracker. Easy and tasty.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 12:09PM
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