Foods to Include in a Tasting Party Menu

Whether you enjoy gourmet olives, fine cheese, or Asian delicacies, chances are your friends will enjoy trying some of these foods. Host a tasting party so your friends can sample some of these delectable treats and broaden their palates to foods they’ve never eaten before.

Tasting is not the same as eating. When you taste, you pay attention, slow down, and systematically savor the food, evaluating the samples’ texture, appearance, flavor, aroma, and finish. You’ll learn your reaction to different flavors at such structured tastings, and you’ll broaden the variety of ingredients you can employ in your cooking.

After decorating your home for your food tasting party, food selection is next. This article will go over some general foods to serve at your tasting party. You can then look into other options on your own.

Choosing the Culinary Options

various appetizers arranged on a wooden table

There’s no limit to what food you like to include in your tasting party menu. You could stick to a single type of food, like a sampling of soft and hard cheeses or a variety of shellfish prepared in multiple ways.

If you’re going to have one type of food, consider whether you’ll do a blind tasting. This means that the guests have no idea what brand or variety of food they are tasting and instead judge the food purely on its flavors.

Choose a cuisine, such as Mediterranean, Mexican, or French, and prepare a variety of small bites of classic dishes. Serve shooters of sopa de fideos, bite-sized pieces of carne asada, and a variety of tequilas to sip if you’re hosting a Mexican tasting party. You could also choose one ingredient to highlight in multiple ways, such as mint, and prepare tasting-sized servings of peas with mint and feta, pasta with mint pesto, and mint chocolate mousse for dessert.

In some instances, the tasting should be sufficient to feed the entire party. If the tasting menu is limited or small, you may wish to include a few additional dishes to ensure that your guests do not go hungry. To avoid overwhelming the guests’ palates, stick to basics like fruits, nuts, and cheese.

Include various red and white wines that best complement your food, like a rich red wine at a chocolate tasting or a slightly acidic, light white wine with seafood and ice water for guests to cleanse their palates.

A well-thought-out menu design can elevate the tasting experience, guiding guests through a culinary journey that delights their senses at every turn. Whether through thematic presentation or carefully curated pairings, a thoughtful menu design adds more sophistication to your tasting party.

Different Tasting Parties and Menu Ideas

Cheese Tasting Party

Variety is essential when selecting cheeses for a cheese tasting party. Cheeses are classified according to the type of milk used and the style. Sheep’s milk, cow’s milk, and goat’s milk are the three main types of cheese.

Cheese styles are usually defined by the following characteristics: firmness (e.g., Parmesan), color (e.g., blue cheese), rind (e.g., Brie), and age. Choose cheeses that represent various types and styles for a well-rounded offering.

You could try cheeses from different countries (for example, Italy, France, and Spain) or do a tasting of cheeses from one country. Choose cheeses with flavors ranging from mild to strong to bring the best tasting experience, and offer at least one familiar cheese.

Your local cheesemonger can also advise you on which cheeses to buy.

Wine Tasting Party

a wine bottle, bread, and grapes in a wooden box, a charcuterie board with different cheeses and grapes

Suppose you are participating in a wine night with close friends or hosting your wine tasting party (check out these fun wine party themes!); you should know what appetizers to serve with wine. Knowing what food to offer at a wine tasting can be challenging because you want to offer tastes and flavors that complement one another rather than overpower one another.

Here are some foods you can offer at your wine tasting party:

  • A variety of cheeses: served with various biscuits, chutney, grapes, and pickled onions. This is always a common pick for wine tasting parties and is well received by guests!
  • Grilled vegetables: they make excellent appetizers. Grill for approximately five minutes after slicing your vegetables and adding any dressings or herbs. These are extremely easy to make and can be served on metal or wooden skewers. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can add halloumi cheese as well!
  • Dips and bread: mezze boards are the ideal wine appetizer. The combination of fresh bread, flavored dips, and wine is divine.
  • Tapas dishes: these are perfect for a wine tasting party. The minuscule Spanish dishes have a wide range of flavors, so you’ll be able to satisfy everyone’s palate.
  • Chinese: serve a delicious platter of Chinese food to your guests, including chicken satay sticks and crispy spring rolls.
  • Italian dishes: offer your guests a delectable selection of mini-sized Italian dishes such as pasta, meatballs, and pizza! Toppings for bruschetta include tomatoes, mushrooms, shallots, garlic, cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s quick and simple to make, and it tastes fantastic.

Beer Tasting Party

Some of the essentials for a beer tasting would be:

  • Peanuts
  • Pretzels
  • Nachos
  • Spicy rice crackers
  • Chips & Dip (think potato chips and onion dip or queso or salsa and tortilla chips)
  • Beef jerky (place it in mason jars around the table)
  • Popcorn (make yours fresh on the stove and add some freshly shaved parmesan or wasabi powder to kick it to a whole new level)
  • Sliders (try making a roast beef slider on Hawaiian rolls that are to die for) 

Chocolate Tasting Party

different chocolate bars on stones with decorative plants

When tasting chocolate, choose a “theme” so that the things you’re tasting have as few factors as possible when telling them apart. You could even use different themes to create mini tastings within your broader tasting.

When stocking up on chocolate for your party, it’s best to start locally. Most likely, there are some fantastic bean-to-bar chocolatiers and makers right in your backyard. Check them out ahead of schedule and pick out a few of your favorites to bring to the party.

If you don’t have direct connections to many local chocolate makers, you can purchase good-quality chocolate at most grocery stores. Look for labels that state the country of origin and percentage of cacao, as these are indicators that the maker knows what they’re doing. Search for the words “bean to bar” if you want really good chocolate.

Don’t be afraid to blend locally made chocolate with those from major manufacturers or try expensive bars alongside less expensive ones. You could even make this mix the focal point of your party, with your guests attempting to guess which are the “fancy” ones through a blind tasting. Whatever you decide, serve your chocolate at room temperature.

As you plan your tasting party, keep in mind that the main goal is to have a good time. Do your best to learn new things about what you’re tasting, how they’re made, and the subtle nuances of its flavors, but don’t get too caught up in getting it all right or precisely knowing what you’re doing.