Perfect Pairings for Your Favorite Appetizers

Perfect Pairings for Your Favorite Appetizers

bruschetta

Whether they’re served hot or cold, small bites and tapas make for excellent party fare, and are best paired with good company and a great bottle of wine. But what wine will you choose? With multiple flavor combinations and trays of different hors d’oeuvres circulating through the room, wine pairings become a little like Russian roulette.

Here is a simple wine and appetizer pairing guide to help you find the perfect accompaniment to several popular starters:

Bruschetta

This classic Italian appetizer is made from fresh tomato and onion mixed with raw garlic and olive oil, all piled atop a nice slice of toasty bread. In order for a wine to stand toe-to-toe with bruschetta, it will need crisp acidity to balance the tomatoes, as well as medium-bodied structure and full flavors to keep the raw garlic in check. Chianti, Barbera, or Sangiovese – all Italian favorites – make excellent matches.

Olives

Olives offer formidable flavor combinations – salt, acidity, pungent flavors, and maybe a little bit of spice, all in a single nibble. Dry sherry and briny green olives are a classic pairing across Spain, though many foodies prefer wines with lower alcohol content. If that’s the case, try a crisp Old World white wine, such as a Spanish Verdejo (which offers steely acidity and a slight minerality), or a brut sparkling wine. Either one can taste quite nice alongside a variety of olives.

Cheeses

cheesePairing wine and cheese is a tricky business, particularly because varietal wines will either complement or clash with a variety of different cheeses – it’s never a one-to-one match. Aged cheeses, which tend to be rich and savory, pair well with full-bodied, complex wines. Young cheese, often with high moisture content, are more delicate in flavor. Pair them with fruit-forward, young wines with crisp acidity such as sparkling wines and dry rosés.

Quiche

Sparkling wines and mimosas are natural companions for egg dishes, but a variety of other wine pairings are also possible. Unoaked, light-bodied white wines tend to bring out the best in the incredible, edible egg – whether the egg dish is served hot or at room temperature. Dry sparkling wines, dry rosés, and even a light-bodied red such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais can also be worthy companions.

Cold meats and deli cuts

A bottle of young merlot, with lush fresh fruit, medium body, and silky finish, can exquisitely complement a variety of cold meats and deli cuts. High fat content meat lends itself well to more acidic merlot wines, while smoked meats play well against oaked wines (particularly those with a slight smokiness on the finish).

If you’re planning a multi-course soirée and want one wine to go the distance from appetizers through desserts, sparkling wines are your best bet. The typical rule of thumb is that if you’re planning a diverse appetizer menu, plan a diverse wine bar to go with it. Uncork a white, red, sparkling, and rosé – and let your guests decide. Guests will gravitate to their personal preference and may even play around a bit see which flavors complement each wine.

"Perfect Pairings for Your Favorite Appetizers" originally published on The Menuism Dining Blog.