As wine is becoming more and more popular among all classes of people, increasing attention is being paid to accompaniments that are served with the wine itself. Most wine drinkers are not well versed in the art of sampling fine wine, nor are many interested. For the vast majority of us, wine is a drink that accompanies a good meal, not a meal in itself as aficionados tend to deem it. There are four basic foods that are easy to find in any supermarket, and provide a good balance of tastes. Whether you are simply having a glass of wine after work, or entertaining a large party of guests, these four basic foods can come in handy when you are looking for proper wine pairings:

1. Breads/Crackers: The most basic accompaniments to any wine tasting are bread and crackers. They are easy to find in any store, are relatively inexpensive and go well with most types of wine. For basics, you can buy a loaf of two of French baguette, slice it into thick ovals, possibly drizzle some olive oil over them and serve them on a platter. To add some variety to the plate, you can add crackers as well. In addition, they serve as a wonderful accompaniment to the second most common appetizer served with wine.

2. Cheese: Wine and cheese have strong associations, and most people hosting parties will have slices of cheese on platters, in one form or another. Cheese seems to naturally accompany wine, especially in terms of flavour or texture. However, it is advisable to avoid strongly flavoured cheeses because they tend to mask the taste of the wine, and interfere with the smells associated with tasting wine. That is not to say that some strongly flavoured cheeses are a bad choice. For certain wines, a strong cheese is necessary to compliment its flavour. That is generally up to the discretion of the wine taster themselves, or the party host.

3. Olives: OlivWine and Food Pairinges make a cheap, easy and common party snack. However, they also go very well with most types of wine. Olives come in many varieties, from the common Kalamata Olive to various herbed and spiced varieties. As with cheese, it is advisable to stay away from heavily spiced/herbed varieties in order to protect the quality of wine. Cheap and common olive varieties include Greek Kalamata, Nicoise and Picholine olives. When serving olives, you should also make sure there is a small plate for individuals to put their olive pits on.

4. Dried Fruits/Nuts: Dried foods are also a common sight at many parties. They range from sundried peaches and mangos to nuts like Almonds or Walnuts. Because they tend to be relatively neutral in flavour, most varieties go well with wine.

With these four basic finger foods, you can host wine tasting parties, or just relax with a glass of wine and a book in your hands. Either way, they make for a great wine experience. Another tip to add, expensive wine is not necessarily good wine. Many of the wines I drink are relatively cheap, yet taste just as good if not better than some of the same varieties that cost 3-5 times as more. In tough economic times like today, it is possible to enjoy wine for a low price. All you need is one or two of these basic appetizers and an inexpensive, yet succulent bottle of wine and you're good to go.

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