December 3, 2020
This holiday season one of our favourite ways to feed family, friends and folks is to set up a grazing station and let everyone nibble to their heart’s content. Naturally this is best if you’re interacting with people in your social bubble, but appetizers can be easily assembled as individual plates too to minimize handling and sharing of utensils. Paired with some great wine, fun cocktails or cold beer, it’s easy to create a festive atmosphere. Pop into to your neighbourhood Co-op Wine Spirits Beer store to pick out some perfect pours to accompany an easy meal this festive season.
Meatballs & Chianti
There’s rarely a dish that’s as traditionally Italian as meatballs. Most frequently they are accompanied by some kind of tomato sauce, bringing fat and salt from the meat and acidity from the tomatoes.
“There’s no better pairing for Italian fare than Italian wines,” says Kevin Schorath, Sommelier Coordinator at Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer. “If I were choosing, I’d pick something that has a decent level of tannins to pair with the fat content and acidity to match the intensity of the tomatoes. Here, look for Chianti Classico wines made from the Italian grape Sangiovese. When in Rome…”
Pinot Gris with Wings
Chicken wings are about as varied as they come: they can be spicy, sweet, salty, and bold: lemon pepper, hot wings, sweet chili, Jamaican jerk, and more. For something so incredibly varied, look for basic drink pairings. Hot foods need something to offset the spice, and that component is sweetness.
“I’d recommend a Pinot Gris or a Riesling as a good pairing for most styles of wings,” says Schorath.
Chardonnay & Shrimp
What to serve alongside that frozen shrimp ring? Seafood dishes are a match made in heaven with fuller bodied white wines. Add to that the cocktail sauce that usually accompanies the shrimp, you could also be bold and venture into a lighter-bodied red wine. “For this pairing I’d go with an oaky, buttery Chardonnay or a red wine made from Pinot Noir or Gamay.”
Smoked candied salmon & Sauvignon
Umami is the oft forgotten flavour component that’s attached to savoury dishes such as cooked mushrooms.
“Smoked salmon is loaded with umami, which makes wines taste a little bitter. To counteract this effect, you can pair a wine that is loaded with intense flavour characteristics,” Schorath recommends. “I’d lean to a Sauvignon Blanc with bright, fresh acidity and citrus fruit flavours.”
What to serve with sausage rolls?
“One of my all-time favourite appetizers!” Schorath says. “For this pairing I’d lean to something red, medium to full-bodied. I’m thinking of a Spanish Rioja or a California Zinfandel.”
Pinot Grigio with Artichoke and asiago dip
You’d be hard pressed to find a better pairing than a creamy, tangy artichoke & asiago dip with a crisp Italian Pinot Grigio, or if you’d like to step out of your comfort zone a bit, you can find a white from the region of Soave or Orvieto, recommends Schorath. These wines bring more structure and intensity that most Pinot Grigios tend to, and they’ll pair beautifully with artichoke and asiago.
Wine & cheese puffs
With something like cheese puffs (or gougeres) choose a wine that’s slightly sweet, but slightly savoury. “If you’re a white wine fan I would recommend a white from the Loire Valley, either a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chenin Blanc, or a light and minerally Chablis. If red is more your style, look to Beaujolais as a good option. These wines are made from Gamay and are incredibly food friendly.”
Taste Spain with bacon wrapped dates
Take this appetizer a step further and stuff the dates with walnuts and with goat cheese and you’ll thank us later. This is a very traditional Spanish appetizer and Schorath thinks you can’t go wrong with a beautiful Tempranillo-based red from Rioja. It also will pair amazingly with the Spanish sparkling wine Cava. Made exactly like Champagne, but with different grape varietals and a much, much lower price tag.
This holiday season why not enjoy some special pairings while nibbling from the appetizer table? You can get recommendations for your socially distant festive meals, turkey pairing ideas, and pick up all your entertaining supplies at your local Co-op Wine Spirits Beer store where our sommeliers are ready to help you.
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