By Karen and Ken Geiszler, Winery-Sage.com —
Welcome to part two of our Holiday Food & Wine Pairing blog feature. Today, the focus is on pairing some of the traditional Holiday Appetizers with wines.
General Rules for Pairing Appetizers with Wines
- Choose lighter wines to start. Starting with a heavy wine destroys your palate’s ability to detect the subtlety of a lighter wine. Crisp white wines and dry Rose are a good place to start. If you’re not sure what I mean, take a few sips of a big meaty Cabernet Sauvignon and then try a few sips of a Pinot Grigio. Your palate will likely be overwhelmed by the remaining tannins and fruit from the Cab, effectively rendering the Pinot Grigio tasteless.
- If you don’t like white wines, then start with lighter red wines like Pinot Noir.
- When serving appetizers, follow the general guidelines in part one of our post Holiday Food & Wine Pairing blog post.
- Be careful pairing creamy sauces and soups with white wines. Many lighter wines are higher in acid and will react with the cream. Look to white wines like Chardonnay, Viognier or Roussanne to complement these sauces because they have softer, less acidic tastes so they pair well with cream sauces.
Now, to the appetizer pairings!
The Chardonnay Question
Be careful when trying to pair Chardonnay with food. In the US, the flavor of Chardonnay varies more than most other white wines. Picking a specific dish to go with Chardonnay is impossible unless you know how the wine was made. Traditional Chardonnays have an oaky, buttery flavor that have as much in common with a lighter red like a Pinot Noir than they do with a dry white wine like a Riesling. Many newer Chardonnays are made with no oak and are lighter and crisper than the traditional style and are actually closer to a Sauvignon Blanc with respect to pairing with food. Know the character of your Chardonnay before you serve it with food.
Well Known Wines for Pairing with Appetizers
- Riesling (make sure it’s dry, not a typical US sweet Riesling)
- Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris
- Sauvignon Blanc (I’ve put it here because every one knows it – not because we particularly like it. If you want to know why, click here)
- Pinot Noir (if you are skipping white wines)
Be Adventurous & Try Something a Little More Unusual
If you are tired of the same old wines and want to venture a little farther a field, substitute our suggested wine for the more well known varietal and introduce your guests to a new experience
- Semillon for Riesling
- Albarino for Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris
- Chenin Blanc for Sauvignon Blanc
- Roussanne for a traditional Chardonnay
- Dry Rose for a newer, crisper Chardonnay
- A Lighter Sangiovese or Dolcetto for Pinot Noir
Enjoy! — Karen and Ken Geiszler, Winery-Sage.com
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Karen and Ken have now been married for almost 25 years and to date have still not had a fight since being married, probably because Karen has the patience of a saint. They live in the Silicon Valley area but have had a cabin just south of Yosemite, in the Bass lake area, for roughly 13 years. They spend as much time up here as they can. The first 10 years was just relaxation. The last three has been lots of work recovering from damage caused by the Courtney Fire and then continuing on with a remodel. In 2018, they hope to spend as much as a third of their time up at the cabin.
They are now empty-nesters with their older son being married and living in London with his new wife for the next two years, and the younger one living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, getting his PhD in Bioinformatics. From where he got the brains is a complete mystery but the best guess is the dog. They are not sure what they did to drive their kids so far away but the only consolation is that both sons claim to want to move back in the future.