Best Appetizers for Wine Tasting
With varying tastes and many recipes to choose from, there are seemingly endless options for wine appetizers. While you could find the best appetizer pairings through painstaking trial and error, we have some tried and true suggestions that won’t let you down.
In this blog, we’re exploring some of the best appetizer recipes that are easy to make with ingredients easily accessible at most grocery stores.
Here is what pairs best with wine and why.
What Are the Best Appetizers for Wine?
As a general rule, the best wine-pairing appetizers will contain fat, protein, and salt. Protein and fat soften tannins and acid, while salt makes wine taste fruitier or sweeter. You might think fruit and chocolate have the best effect on sweetening wine, but it’s actually the opposite. While treats like fruit and chocolate complement wine well on some occasions, it’s best to reserve these for off-dry, sweet, and bright sparkling wines.
Keep reading for easy appetizers for your next wine night that your guests will love!
1. Cheese Board
There’s a reason why wine and cheese are a favorite wine pairing (and one of our personal favorites). Cheese's salt, protein, and fat will lift the wine’s flavors and mellow out harsh qualities, such as high tannins and acidity. Robust red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon are a heavenly pairing for harder cheeses like aged cheddar. A fortified wine like Tawny Port tastes divine with strong blue cheeses like stilton. Conversely, Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé are excellent for lighter cheeses like feta and goat cheese. More delicate wine with softer, airy cheeses and robust wines with more pungent cheeses is a great place to start.
2. Salted Nuts
Full of protein, fat, and salt, most nuts are an effortless pairing for both red and white wine. Nuts are the perfect palate cleanser and will make your wine taste sweeter. This easy, low-cost appetizer can be paired with other simple delicacies like cheese.
3. Fresh Tomato Appetizers
Tomatoes bring out the zing and earthiness in your wine. They’re also great for adding a little sweetness without being too sugary. A Caprese salad with sliced tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar is a balanced, delicious appetizer for red wines like Merlot and Zinfandel.
For white wine, sparkling wine, and Rosé wines, stuff cherry tomatoes with a softer cheese like cream cheese to both lift their fruit and citrus notes and cut through acidity.
A renowned Italian finger food, Bruschetta combines bread, tomatoes, olive oil, and herbs for a bright and savory treat. Bruschetta is a lovely complement to red wine as it highlights the wine’s berry flavors while keeping tannins and alcohol at bay.
5. Smoked Salmon on Cucumber
Full of protein, fat, and refreshingly crunchy cucumber, this recipe is one of the best for full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay and Viognier. Cut a cucumber into round slices, add cream cheese, then top with smoked salmon. This will add smokiness to your tasting while cutting through the acidity and complementing the brightness of the wine.
6. Mushroom Mini Quiche
Another savory treat that’s full of hearty ingredients like egg and flaky pastry, mushroom quiche is perfect for bringing out the earthy qualities of Pinot Noir. For a robust red wine, stuff the mushrooms with cheese and peppers. Just make sure the peppers aren’t too spicy, or they could clash with the wine.
7. Prosciutto Flatbread
Layer prosciutto, tomato, and olive oil over a slice of flatbread for a fancy, hearty treat. This is perfect for acidic red wines like Chianti, which might need extra fat and protein to mellow its sharpness. The meat's saltiness will also bring Chianti’s rich, red fruit bouquet to life.
8. Shrimp Cocktail
A shrimp cocktail doused in lemon and its signature sweet and spicy sauce is a beautiful appetizer for dry white wines like Riesling and Pinot Grigio and light blush wines. For a twist on the classic shrimp cocktail, pair your dry white wine or sparkling wine with Ceviche for a refreshing seafood pairing.
9. Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs are protein-rich, making them a perfect appetizer pairing for acidic white wines. Light and fruity wines like Moscato and Rosé are also a decadent match for this appetizer. Just make sure to keep the mayo in the deviled egg mixture light or nonexistent so as not to weigh down the freshness of the wine.
10. Artichoke Dip
This classic, cold appetizer originates from the Mediterranean and remains a crowd favorite at most gatherings. This decadent dip full of veggies is perfect for light white wines and Rosé.
Break out the Champagne and Prosecco to get super fancy with an oyster appetizer. Cold half oysters and lemon are an easy guest favorite and incredibly refreshing, especially if you’re hosting a wine tasting during summer. This appetizer is best for dry white wines and sparkling white wines.
12. Bread and Olive Oil
Finally, we have another timeless classic when it comes to wine appetizers. A sliced baguette dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar is an easy, ideal choice for all types of wine. This combination brings the right amount of fat, tang, sweetness, and carbs to complement wine without overpowering it.
Impress Guests With Your Appetizer Knowledge
Now that you’re familiar with some of the basics of wine and appetizer pairings, you can start branching out to more adventurous combinations. However, there is nothing wrong with sticking with classic favorites when first getting started. These recipes are proven favorites that always work.
Feel free to check out our blog here for even more recipes and wine pairings.
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