ah, see, the 40-person head count and info about the budget helps. now i know not to suggest anything too fussy, intricate, or pricy :) also, since you're serving the food during the tasting, you really don't want anything too spicy and should limit the salty offerings, otherwise it may interfere with the flavors of the wine...and no artichokes or asparagus.
- polenta rounds with herbed chevre
- mini meatballs (beef, chicken, turkey...) with a variety of dipping sauces
- glazed spiced nuts (the Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts would be perfect)
- cherry tomatoes stuffed with herbed ricotta or goat cheese
- tapenade with crackers
- almond-stuffed dates wrapped with bacon
- vegetable frittata bites
- caramelized onion tartlets
I do a few wine parties a year. Here are some of the items that have been big hits.
Deviled eggs with chopped shrimp and a smidge chopped dill pickle is great with Reisling.
Fondue is a always a hit with apples, bread cubes, veggies, potatoes etc. It can be expensive with all that Entemaller cheese, but everyone LOVES it.
Keilbasa marinated for 2 hours and roasted in a red wine you are serving.
Roasted small red poatoes, tossed in black olive tapenade, oilive oil and fresh lemon slices.
Overnight marinated shrimp - I use ths recipe from Southern Living.
This REALLY cheating, I know, but after trying these, I will never make homemade dolmas again. They are great finger foods for a tasting. I can sometimes use a respite from cooking EVERYTHING.
7 Layer Greek Dip w party sized pitas (I used a recipe similar to this one.)
Crostini with cream cheese mixed with sun dried tomatoes in oil, raw garlic, freshly minced and a mix of herbs.
Crostinis can have everything.
Buschetta - add some chopped hearts of palm for flair.
Cream cheese with horseradish mixed in topped with thin cucumber, red onion and roast beef
Anyway, I hope some of these help. I have been building my "finger food" collection for 10 years or so becuase theya re just so much easier for guests to enjoy when you ahve ahuseful of people.