Crostini Tasting Bar & Wine Sampling

This Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Bar & Wine Sampling is one of our most unique home entertaining ideas! Set this up on it’s own or add it to a special event. Include this in your Italian themed Dinner party for additional Italian night ideas.

balsamic vinegar tasting bar party table

Get ready to host a creative and interactive tasting bar at your next party or event

I’m just going to admit right now that so much of my inspiration for entertaining this year is coming from our trip to Italy. This balsamic vinegar tasting bar is no exception and I think you’re going to love it!

Italy is known for many premium culinary delights: wine, olive oil, pasta, balsamic vinegar, cured meats, and cheeses just to name a few. I wanted to celebrate that by setting up a flavored balsamic bar paired with some high quality wines of Italy. This is a great opportunity to introduce your guests to the many flavors of balsamic vinegar as well as Italian wine varieties they may not be familiar with.

To prepare for the tasting bar I stocked up on five different flavors of balsamic vinegar, some good Italian olive oil, and a few bottles of high quality Italian wine. Expect to pay $15 or more per bottle as there are a lot of wines produced by artisans on small farms and vineyards. There’s so much tradition that goes into the making of Italian wine. I loved learning about it on our day wine tasting tour in Tuscany.

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How to set up a Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Bar

The idea here is to let guests taste the subtle differences in a variety of flavored vinegars. I chose:

  • Pear
  • Fig
  • Orange
  • Blackberry
  • Strawberry

Provide one good quality Italian olive oil and some Italian bread cut into small cubes.

Use small shallow ramekins or plates and fill one side with the olive oil and the other side with balsamic vinegar. Dip bread cubes so you get a little bit of the oil and vinegar to taste together.

Arrange fruit that represents each vinegar flavor, on a platter. The fresh fruit adds a decorative touch that is edible.

Serve some olives in a small bowl to echo the olive oil.

Provide a sampling of crostini that guests can drizzle with the balsamic vinegar of their choice

Make sure to have a balance of savory and sweet toppings like:

  • goat cheese
  • ricotta cheese
  • Parmigiano cheese
  • arugula
  • small heirloom tomatoes + fresh basil
  • fresh figs
  • peaches, sliced & lightly grilled
  • fresh strawberries, sliced
  • chopped pistachios

Extra arugula and Parmigiano can be served as a salad and dressed with olive oil and flavored balsamic vinegar of choice. That’s how the Italians do!

For the big finish serve scoops of gelato with fresh berries and let guests top it with a flavored balsamic vinegar. The combination of tangy and sweet goes so well together.

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Let’s talk about adding wine to your balsamic vinegar tasting bar

We can learn a lot from the Italian lifestyle and enjoying great wine with delicious crostini is one of them! Look at this as an opportunity to taste a few new varieties that pair well with these small bites you’ve prepared.

  • For a true taste of Italy try a bottle of Chianti Classico DOCG. The DOCG label means that the wine follows strict guidelines for production, and is the highest designation of quality among Italian wines. You can notice it at a glance by the little rooster symbol on the label. Chianti is dry, ranges from medium to full bodied, and tastes great with food.
  • Try a white wine like Verdicchio, from either the Matelica or Castelli di Jesi DOC. Verdicchio grapes have been growing in central Italy since the 14th century. It has high acidity with citrus and almond notes, and pairs with a wide variety of foods.
  • Introduce another popular red like Barolo DOCG from the Piedmont region of Italy, which borders France. Barolo is made from the Nebbiolo grape, and the Piedmont region is known for producing the most DOC/DOCG zones and the largest percentage of officially classified wines of any region in Italy. Barolo has floral and fruity notes, and is well suited to aging. A great choice for those who have a wine cellar and love to collect!
  • If you are on a budget, you could find great satisfaction with a Langhe Nebbiolo or a Nebbiolo d’Alba from the same region. It will likely be a younger, more straightforward wine but delicious nonetheless.

Serve with Wine

Stock up on high quality Italian wine to complement the balsamic tasting bar

This balsamic vinegar tasting bar and wine sampling party is a great way to entertain at home. You don’t have to do a lot of party preparation, just gather your food, wine, and get ready for a sophisticated evening of tastings. Click here to learn more about Italian wines to feature at your next gathering.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Italian Trade Commission. All opinions are 100% mine.

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  1. This is beautiful! May I ask where you purchased the balsamic vinegar bottles? Did you transfer the vinegar into the pictured bottles and then label them yourself? The entire tablescape is just gorgeous!

    1. Thank you Beth! I got the balsamic from Wegman’s in the cheese area (where they let you sample). That’s the bottles they come in, I just removed the labels and wrote on them with a glass marker. Hope you’ll give this party idea a try! 🙂

  2. This is such a great idea! I love balsamic tasting…I should definitely do this at home with friends!

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