An easy guide to pairing sparkling wines
What to pair with sparkling wine.
I never gave sparkling wine a fair shake (no pun intended). Like most people, my first exposures to sparkling wines were New Year’s Eve parties as a kid. Sooner or later, someone would put a glass of Champagne in my hand. I’d take a sip and think about it for a moment, only to decide that I didn’t understand. Usually it was too bubbly, acidic and smelled more like a loaf of bread than a glass of wine. Fast forward to adolescence and the first time I decided to indulge a little more with the bubbly, along with the hangover that I experienced the following day. I didn’t understand this sparkling wine “thing.”
The fact was, I was probably drinking swill. To make matters worse, I didn’t understand the art of moderation. However, these experiences marked me and my opinion of sparkling wine for over two decades, until someone finally put a good glass of Champagne in my hand. It was a Non-Vintage (NV) Ulysse Collin Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs and I loved it. With my inhibitions tossed to the wind, I had finally decided to start exploring sparkling wine.
But where to start was the question. The fact is, there’s a lot more to sparkling wine than just Champagne. Most are dry (Extra Brut), but you can also find sparklers in many degrees of sweetness. Some are made from red grapes (Blanc de Noirs), some from white (Blanc de Blancs) and many are Rosé. The good news is that once you start to explore, you immediately realize that all of these wines are amazing when paired with food, and popping open any kind of bubbly seems to put people in the mood for a good time.
With limited space, I could not possibly cover every category of sparkling wine, so I’ve decided to discuss some of favorite styles with my favorite pairings. Think of it as an introduction with a world of new experiences waiting down the road.
Learn how to pair sparkling wines with food.
Eric Guido, Snooth
5 Favorite Sparkling Wine–Pairing Recipes
In a perfect world, we’d all have sparkling wine every day, right? Five o’clock comes and with it a POP. Failing that, we can at least mark special occasions—like Fridays, for example—with bubbles.
Many celebratory occasions have traditional foods tied to them, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. You’ve got to have chocolate. But what to eat before the chocolate? My feeling is that lighter foods are good so that you save room for dessert and stay limber. And not only is sparkling wine a great food accompaniment, it’s also so buoyant and happy-making and convivial that it suits the day. Below are five dishes—canapés, starters and small plates—paired with various bubbly styles to keep your Valentine’s evening light so you can concentrate on the main event. No, no, I mean the chocolate.
Crispy Mushrooms and Quail Egg on Rye Bread
Serving Champagne and canapés together is a classic move to start a special meal. A few years back, New York Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit created an all-canapé menu for us to show off the range of styles in these sparkling wines and their respective, and somewhat elevated, food matches.
Chef Emma Bengtsson, whose calm, controlled demeanor stands out in the stressful environment of pro kitchens, gave us recipes with great twists that nudged our expectations for the wine: scallops with white soy, strawberry, trout roe and apple granita, along with duck with pickled cauliflower. But this one could not be more direct. It comes from foraging season in western Sweden where she grew up, so has a strong pull for her. Mushrooms are sautéed until crisp (don’t stir them too much or they won’t crisp up), then put on rye toasts and topped with halved quail eggs and parsley. That’s it. The dish brings together woodsy mushrooms, light spice in the bread, a bright herb and a rich egg. It’s perfect with the creamy Marc Hebrart Brut Selection NV, which is a little earthy from its hefty percentage of Pinot Noir. Try the recipe, or all three for a private mini-tasting party.
Clam Chowder and Warmed Radishes with Crunchy Sea Salt
Boston-based Legal Sea Foods has impressed me since my wife and I first went when our now 18-year-old son was about nine months old. People pooh-pooh it because it’s a chain (today numbering 30-odd locations), but to my eyes they use their buying power to ensure tip-top quality at a good price, and they’ve invested in and promoted wine for decades.
So I was very excited to put together a menu story with them a few years ago, and to go up the coast from Boston to oversee the photo shoot. The location was the beautiful waterfront home of president and CEO Roger Berkowitz and his wife, Lynne, on a spit of land called Nahant. Berkowitz’s grandfather had opened a grocery store called Legal Cash Market in 1904, and his father opened the fish store in 1950. It’s where Julia Child shopped, including for the famously ugly monkfish she also gave advice on the wine list in the early days. A restaurant followed, and Roger took it over and grew it considerably after business school. (In December, Berkowitz announced that he had sold the restaurant side of the business but was retaining retail and online sales.)
The menu, by chef Rich Vellante, was straightforward, but with great touches like the fatback in this recipe. The clam chowder is simply classic the radishes can awaken the appetite before the soup or brighten the palate after the creamy indulgence. Either way, pour Champagne. Vice president of beverage operations Sandy Block chose an excellent non-vintage brut with broad appeal, the Taittinger La Française, to pair with this satisfying soup.
Scallop Crudo with Caviar, Jalapeño and Apple Marinated in Passion-Fruit Juice
You know the old saying that a restaurant had a wine list the size of a phone book? Well New York’s Cru, now closed, had a wine list the size of two phone books and the excellence of its cellar earned it a Wine Spectator Grand Award. When putting together matches for a Chardonnay menu for us, wine director Robert Bohr and sommelier Michel Couvreux pulled from some 4,500 selections.
The first wine up was a Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs 1996 with a luxuriant texture. Chef Shea Gallante served marinated, dressed raw scallops. The accompaniments may sound surprising, but preparation is fast and easy (just make sure you have yuzu, mustard oil and shiso leaves on hand) and the flavors really ping around. As Gallante pointed out in the story, people want rich food with Champagne, but that doesn’t have to mean fat raw scallops do very nicely.
Although the restaurant closed, the story has a happy ending, illustrating how the hospitality business has its own sort of family tree: Bohr and chef Ryan Hardy founded Delicious Hospitality Group, which has three great restaurants in New York. Couvreux is beverage director for Thomas Keller’s New York restaurants, including Grand Award-winning Per Se. And Gallante is now chef at Lincoln Ristorante, a Best of Award of Excellence winner. Although you might not be able to dine at these spots right now, the former team's scallops and Champagne match will certainly stimulate your desire.
Mini Spinach Quiches
More than a decade ago, my friend and co-worker Jennifer Fiedler started a series called 8 & $20, with a recipe with no more than eight ingredients (plus pantry staples) and wines to match costing under $20. It had a fresh appeal and was informed by her serious cooking skills and fun writing. Fiedler returned to Hawaii, where she grew up, and is raising two adorable kids there while also writing and baking. The column continues.
Like omelettes and risotto, quiche is a really good thing to master, and not difficult at all. It can be baked ahead of time, and you can offer it as a whole for a meal or brunch or as mini quiches for a party. (This version of the recipe serves 8 to 10 as appetizers, so if you’re actually having a romantic dinner for two instead of feeding your family unit while stuck at home, any leftovers will keep a few days in the fridge.) Just as you can adapt quiche to the ingredients you have on hand, you can also adapt the wines. Fiedler recommended a fruity bubbly like Prosecco or California sparkling, which makes sense to play against the earthy spinach. And bubbles are always good with eggs.
Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Tequlia Glaze
When he was 17, Victor Flores took a big leap. He moved to New York from Mexico by himself, with no family waiting for his arrival here. As he recalls, “I knew somebody who knew somebody.” He had a place to stay for a bit, and plans to work in construction. But the harsh winter of 1989 put a damper on that plan. Flores found a job washing dishes at Orso, an Italian restaurant in the Joe Allen family of Theater District mainstays run by Allen’s daughter, Julie Lumia, whom he considers his mentor. (Allen just passed away on Feb. 7.) By 2000, Flores was running the kitchens at Orso and Joe Allen, and an outpost in Maine that has since closed. He also runs Bar Centrale, a secret spot so pleasant that I hesitate to mention it.
In an age of niche chefs (ya gotta have a gimmick), Flores is a breath of fresh air. He cooks confidently in a number of idioms for varied crowds. No preparation is beneath him, and yet he brings something to standard dishes and innovations. He’s direct and economical with language, and he has as sweet a disposition and is as accessible as any chef I’ve ever written about. (I recently texted him to ask if he puts garlic in guacamole. He responded “No.” Then about five minutes later, he sent a flurry of acceptable additions followed by a reminder: “no garlic.”)
Flores did a holiday menu for Wine Spectator that crossed Asian and Mexican flavors with tuna and gently spiced up a massive prime rib roast. For dessert, he topped a super-moist olive oil cake with a tequila glaze. It’s a subtle touch you might not even identify the tequila if you didn’t know it was there, but it cuts the sweetness and lifts the oil flavor. Lightly sweet bubbles, in this case a Moscato d’Asti chosen by Flores, fit the bill for this recipe match.
Why Sparkling Rosé Pairs with Everything
A decade ago, when Thomas Carter was a twentysomething sommelier at New York City&aposs Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, a customer ordered a bottle of the prized 1985 Cristal Brut Rosé Champagne once a week. "He and his date would each drink a glass, and then he&aposd leave the other half of the bottle for the staff," Carter says. This was the beginning of his own love affair with sparkling rosés. Now the wine director and co-owner of the new Estela in New York City (estelanyc.com), he still adores sparkling rosés, whether they cost $20 or $200 (or $2,000!) a bottle.
While the grapes in these wines often vary by region, Carter says that all sparkling rosés have a great affinity for food: "Pink sparkling wines have a real depth of flavor, but a lot of acidity too, which makes them good with so many different dishes." Sparkling rosés—which are pink because the winemaker either blends red wine into the white or leaves the red grapes on their skins for a short period of time, so the color bleeds—often have a little bit more body and fruitier flavors than white sparkling wines, making them especially versatile.
Carter admits that few wines are better than true rosé Champagne, but at Estela𠅊 buzzy neighborhood restaurant with a sweeping bar that takes up almost half of the space—he hasn&apost yet found a high roller who&aposll regularly order the most expensive sparkling rosé on his list, the $160 Larmandier-Bernier Rosé de Saignພ Extra Brut Champagne. Instead, customers tend to choose pink sparkling wines from more obscure regions, like France&aposs mountainous Jura or Spain&aposs Canary Islands. Carter even offers a $38 bottle of pink Spanish cava.
The range of sparkling rosés at Estela inspired the recipe pairings here. The food is by chef and co-owner Ignacio Mattos, who made his name at Brooklyn&aposs Isa with experimental, naturalist dishes like sardines served with their crispy-fried skeletons and smoked egg yolks floating in sorrel consommé. At Estela, he&aposs more minimalist, creating pared-back, exquisitely executed dishes that lean Mediterranean and go perfectly with sparkling rosé. To be fair, the pairing part isn&apost much of a challenge. "It&aposs very hard to make a wrong match with sparkling rosé you could basically drink these wines with anything from decadent French food to Chinese takeout," Carter says.
"Marc Hປrart&aposs Brut Rosé Champagne is a no-brainer with fish," says Estela wine director Thomas Carter. "It&aposs very mineral-driven and long on the palate." Another good option: NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé.
Carter pairs the dish with a full-bodied, fruity sparkling rosé, the NV René-Henri Coutier Champagne Brut Rosé Grand Cru. The NV Fleury Pere & Fils Rosé de Saignພ Brut is another good pick.
Ignacio Mattos arranges crisp chicken thighs on a velvety hummus made from dried fava beans, not chickpeas. A bright, lightly spicy rosé cava, like the NV Canals Canals Rosat Reserva, is delicious here. Also try the NV Freixenet Cordon Rosado Brut.
Meyer lemon adds fresh flavor to squid and fat, creamy beans, which can be tricky to pair with wine. But Carter succeeds with the NV François Pinon Touraine Brut Rosé from the Loire Valley. Another option: NV Louis Bouillot Crémant de Bourgogne Perle d&aposAurore Rosé.
Prosecco Pairings To Try Tonight
Do you pair sparkling wine with food often? If you don’t, you should. A glass of bubbly pairs well with so many different foods. It also seems to make the meal seem a little more special, even if it’s just an ordinary evening.
Prosecco is a terrific sparkling wine to serve with food. Its crisp, refreshing flavors are an outstanding match with appetizers, entrees, snacks, and even desserts. No matter what course you have in mind, you can probably find a way to pair it with Prosecco.
Although there are many options for Prosecco pairings, we’ve gathered a few of our favorites here. These foods show off all of the best features of Prosecco. And while you should use this list as inspiration (not a limitation), we think you’ll have a hard time finding better matches than these. Enjoy!
The Best Snacks with Prosecco
Prosecco is a perfect partner for salty snacks. Whether the wine is sweet or dry, it will balance out the saltiness of your food. The bubbles also help to cleanse the palate. Try these Prosecco snack pairings:
Roasted salted nuts
Toasted pumpkin seeds
Asian-inspired trail mix (with a little spice!)
You might be wondering, “What cheese goes with Prosecco?” Try something creamy and rich, like triple-crème cheeses. Brie and Camembert are also great choices.
Irresistible Appetizers with Prosecco
You might enjoy serving Prosecco as an aperitif at the beginning of your party. It is the perfect wine to hand to your guests as they arrive. Of course, they’ll need something to nibble on as they sip their wine, so serve one of these delicious appetizers with Prosecco. You'll notice that a lot of these options are salty and rich in umami flavor, and that's because those are perfect complements for sparkling wine. Prosecco is one of our favorite wine pairings for ham because it's such a great complement for salty, chewy prosciutto!
Mini quiches or frittata
Prosciutto on toast or wrapped around breadsticks
Sushi or seafood appetizers
Egg rolls or crab rangoon
Chicken satay skewers
Delicious Dinners with Prosecco
Prosecco is also delicious when paired with a main course. There are a lot of options for pairing Prosecco with your dinner, because the wine is so versatile. It’s not the best pairing with heavy red meat dishes or some vegetables, but apart from that you can dream big. Try these delicious dinner ideas with your sparkling wine:
Chicken in a cream sauce
Shrimp fried rice
Spicy Asian dishes (consider a sweeter Prosecco here)
Crispy duck breast
Pasta in cream sauce
Fish and chips
Prosecco and Dessert
What’s dinner without dessert? Prosecco is a great match for desserts, especially if you reach for a sweeter style of the wine. The recommendations above are perfect pairings for a dry Prosecco (not sweet). When the end of the meal arrives, consider switching to exra dry or sec Prosecco, which are slightly sweeter. Then pair it with one of these delicious dessert ideas.
Orange sponge cake
Custard tarte with raspberry
Lemon shortbread cookies
Goat cheese ice cream
Enjoy these food pairings ideas! These Prosecco pairings are delicious with many different types and brands of Prosecco. If you’re looking for a bottle that’s easy to find, then know that these are great La Marca Prosecco food pairing ideas. You can also reach for Cupcake Prosecco or Ménage à Trois Prosecco.
For even more great (and affordable) recommendations, check our our article: 9 Cheap Prosecco Wines That Rock
5 Simple Appetizers for Sparkling Wines
So that they'll never see you sweat, try one of these quick pairings for those inevitable, last-minute holiday get-togethers.
Between cooking, cleaning, shopping, and hosting out-of-town guests, the holidays can be as stressful as they are fun, even for the most organized and prepared among us. To help you capitalize on the fun part, rely on one of these 5 simple appetizer and sparkling wine pairings.
&aposNew World&apos Sparkling Wine & Fried Spring Rolls
The more fruit-driven sparkling wines from the New World (such as California, Australia, and New Zealand) are an ideal pairing with Asian cuisine. Additionally, the combination of riper fruit flavors, crisp acidity, and bubbles contrasts beautifully with the crunchy texture of fried foods. Combine the two – fried food and Asian cuisine – and we have a definite winner. Purchase frozen fried spring rolls from the freezer aisle at the grocery (or pick up egg rolls from your local Chinese restaurant), bake, and serve warm with sweet and spicy dipping sauce.
Cava & Smoked Salmon Mini Bagel Sandwiches
Always a great value, Cava is a crisp sparkling wine that gets its name from the Cava appellation in the Catalonia region of Spain where it is produced. Made from indigenous Spanish grape varieties in the same "traditional method" as Champagne, Cava pairs well with smoked salmon sandwiches. Make open-faced Smoked Salmon Mini Bagel Sandwiches by topping one side of a mini bagel with smoked salmon, dill cream cheese, red onions, and capers. The acidity of this Spanish sparkler acts as a squeeze of lemon for the salmon and counterbalances the saltiness of the capers and the richness of the cream cheese.
Prosecco & Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
Prosecco, an Italian sparkler made from grapes of the same name primarily in the Veneto region, is an ideal accompaniment to Roasted Tomato Bruschetta. The bright, tart flavor of the tomatoes is matched by the acidity of the wine and also allows for the soft fruity flavors of the Prosecco to come forward. Top a toasted baguette slice with store-bought bruschetta topping, sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, and garnish with fresh basil leaves for a simple yet satisfying pairing.
Rosé Sparkling Wine & Rare Roast Beef Mini Sandwiches
Full-bodied, rich, and flavorful rosé sparkling wines can be served with a wide range of foods that share similar characteristics. While rosé sparkling wine does not always work with red meat, it finds a good home with tender roast beef from the deli served on buttery rolls and a touch of horseradish cream sauce. When you want a little more flavor in your wine and a heartier food companion, this pairing does the trick.
Champagne & Brie Cheese Plate
You will pay a little more for true Champagne (made in the Champagne region of France), but it&aposs always worth the splurge. For easy hors d&aposoeuvres, pick up a round of Brie, fresh strawberries, and a baguette from the grocery store. This quick pairing requires minimal work, but provides much enjoyment. The bubbles break down the richness of the gooey brie and the toasty character of the Champagne is enhanced by the fresh-from-the-oven baguette.
Best Finger Foods For Wine Pairing
- Goat’s Cheese Appetizers
- Cold Cut Meats
- Veggies and Hummus
- Deviled Eggs
- Fried Chicken
- Buffalo Wings
- Fried Wings with a Blue Cheese Dressing
- Spicy Egg Rolls
- Tortilla Chips
- Sausage Balls
- Pigs in a Blanket
- Soft Pretzels
- Buttered Popcorn
- Potato Chips
- Cheese Curls
- Bruschetta with Basil and Tomato Sauce
What could be more classic than cheese and wine? This pairing is as old as the hills and there are countless combinations that you can try for yourself.
Cheese is also a perfect choice for finger food. Or you can take the idea one step further and create a cheeseboard. Fruit, nuts, bread, crackers, cured meats, and olives are all common additions.
Of course, the best type of wine is going to depend on the cheese that you choose. A dry white wine is ideal for soft cheeses, complementing their texture and their rinds. Look for a white wine that has high acidity to get the most out of this combination.
For stronger cheese, like a pungent blue or aged cheddar, you could try port. Most types of cheese can’t stand up well to the intensity of port, but these to choices hold their ground.
If you already have the wine on hand, gouda is one of the easiest types of cheese to look for. This one pairs with many different types of wine – to the extent that it’s hard to find a wine that doesn’t taste good next to gouda.
In practice, you’ll often be serving a few different types of wine with a cheeseboard, as you’ll never find a single type of wine that matches everything. This isn’t a bad thing at all. Experimenting is the best part of wine pairing anyway.
Goat’s Cheese Appetizers
Serving a cheese board isn’t the only way to feature cheese as finger food. Try making mini appetizers using bread or crackers, then topped with goat’s cheese, some herbs, and possibly tomatoes.
Many types of white wine will pair well with this combination and sauvignon blanc is one of the best places to begin. The wine tends to be dry and fruity, which makes it a refreshing choice.
Nuts are another classic finger food. You’ll often see them served at the same time as wine, even though nuts and wine aren’t classically paired together.
For serving mixed nuts, you’ll need a versatile wine, as each type of nut has its own flavor profile. A versatile wine is even more important if you’re serving dried fruit at the same time. Red wines are good choices here, such as a chianti or a Beaujolais.
Chardonnay can be appealing too, as the wine matches the flavor profile of many individual types of nuts. You could also look for a port. Port pairs well with various types of cheese too, which is a useful feature.
While sushi is generally served with sake or beer, this finger food can be served with wine as well. The right wine will complement all the delicate flavors of the dish, without taking your focus too far off your food.
A riesling is often a good place to begin, as this dry white wine is often refreshing. If your sushi has a strong spicy kick, then you could try an off-dry riesling instead of a dry one, as the extra sweetness helps to cool your palate somewhat.
You can also turn to pinot noir. While most people recommend pairing fish with a white wine, some reds can be pretty good too. In fact, pinot noir complements many of the same dishes that you would normally choose a white wine for, partly because a pinot noir is less robust than most reds.
Or, if you want something entirely different, try champagne, dry prosecco, or a similar white bubbly. Sparkling white wines always go down a treat and they’re normally an excellent choice for any occasion where you will be serving finger food. Besides that, a sparkling white wine tends to enhance most seafood dishes.
While sashimi and sushi can seem similar, the two types of finger food have some distinct differences. Sashimi is generally sliced raw meat, often fish, while sushi is a more structured dish that often includes rice as well, along with other ingredients.
Raw seafood tends to have delicate flavors that are easily overwhelmed, so you’re going to need a subtle wine for pairing. Unoaked chardonnay is a good choice here and the creaminess of the chardonnay is a nice contrast to the sashimi flavors.
Just be sure to steer clear of heavily oaked chardonnay. Aging in oak changes the flavor profile of the wine and can make it too intense for serving with sashimi.
Cold Cut Meats
Cold cut meats are an easy finger food, either on their own or combined with other ingredients. Try serving them as part of a cheeseboard or perhaps wrapped around mozzarella cheese.
Either way, a Beaujolais nouveau or a pinot noir can be a good red wine choice. Beaujolais is an interesting wine that tends to have low tannins and high acidity. Beaujolais nouveau tends to be a lighter version of the wine, making it a red wine that isn’t overly complex.
Beaujolais nouveau is also famous for another reason – it’s an early release wine. Very early, in fact, as the wine tends to hit shelves around the world within 60 days of the grapes being harvested. The wine owes much of its history to vineyards trying to be the fastest to produce new wine after harvest.
Beaujolais nouveau isn’t universally loved, but it’s interesting enough to try at least once for yourself. And, what better occasion than at an event with finger foods?
If neither of those options has you convinced, then consider a chianti or a cabernet franc. That’s just scratching the surface. Many other light or medium bodied red wines will pair just as well with cold cut meats, so there’s no need to stress at all.
Veggies and Hummus
Fresh veggies like bell peppers and carrot sticks are always delicious finger food choices, giving you plenty of vibrant flavors and interesting textures to go around. Serve the veggies with hummus and you have an easy option that is certain to be popular.
This type of finger food is great for wine pairing too, as it will pair well with most types of white wine, including sparking white wine and even some rosés. A sauvignon blanc is a good place to start, as there are herbaceous notes in the wine that always work well with vegetables.
You could try your hand at other types of white wine too, such as a pinot gris or perhaps a dry riesling. If you’re serving a slightly smoky hummus instead, such as one that uses paprika as a key ingredient, then a red wine can be a good alternative, such as a pinot noir.
Deviled eggs might be a little fiddly to make, but this doesn’t stop them from being a popular party choice. After all, they’re easy to pick up and eat. They’re tasty too.
There is also plenty of flexibility in how you make the eggs. Perhaps you follow the traditional approach or perhaps you add some extra ingredients to make the flavors pop a bit more.
Either way, a dry prosecco can be a good choice here. The bubbly nature of the wine goes well with many finger foods and the lightness of the wine is exactly what you want for deviled eggs.
You could also look for another type of dry white wine – either sparkling or still. Pinot grigio is one style that can work especially well here, while chardonnay is another.
A dish of shrimp (or prawns for that matter) always feels decadent and can be a delicious finger food at countless events. You also have plenty of flexibility about the wine that you choose.
The easiest choice is a bottle of sparkling white wine, perhaps prosecco or even champagne. A sparkling white is always fresh and vibrant, and you’re giving the flavors of your shrimp plenty of chance to shine.
You could also look for a neutral type of white wine, such as pinot grigio or perhaps a Chablis.
When you’re including a sauce or some seasoning with your shrimp, the pairing changes again. With a classic shrimp cocktail, for example, a fruity rosé or an off-dry riesling can be excellent. In both cases, you’re getting a little sweetness that mirrors the sweetness in your shrimps.
Fried chicken might not be the most elegant type of finger food, but it remains an incredibly popular one. So, why not pair your fried chicken with wine? The idea isn’t as strange as you might think. Some types of match with the chicken extremely well.
A riesling is a great place to begin, especially if you’re looking at one from Germany. This type of riesling has a great balance of sweetness and acidity, which creates an interesting contrast to the crunchy, salty, and fatty nature of fried chicken.
You could also turn to any type of dry sparkling white wine, including prosecco.
This type of wine still has a little sweetness and, even more importantly, acts as a palate cleanser. Sipping a wine like this between bites is an ideal way to make your chicken even more enjoyable.
Pairing buffalo wings with wine can be quite tricky, as the sauce has so much going on. It often ends up being a little tangy, with some heat (but not too much), and a little salt. Then there’s the variation from one buffalo sauce to the next, as no two are ever quite the same.
Too much sweetness in your wine doesn’t work well with this savory finger food, while a strong wine can overpower the flavors. Your best bet is to look for a slightly sweet white wine. A riesling can work well here, along with Moscato, or perhaps champagne.
You might also look for a red wine. If so, focus on fruity reds, as these can taste sweet too. A red zinfandel is a surprisingly good choice, despite the high alcohol content. You could try a Beaujolais too.
We can’t skip scallops, as they are often found as part of an appetizer. You’ll often be looking for a bright wine to pair with the scallops, especially if you’re serving them with few other ingredients.
A pinot gris or a dry riesling can work well here. Both wines are vibrant and have enough interesting flavors to complement the scallops nicely. If you’re searing the scallops, you might look for a richer wine too, like a Beaujolais. Or, for a different approach entirely, how about serving your scallops with champagne?
For more ideas about pairing with scallops, check out our wine pairing with scallops post.
Fried Wings with a Blue Cheese Dressing
Of course, buffalo sauce isn’t the only way to serve wings. You can use a blue cheese dressing too, which creates a very different balance of flavors.
The white wine Chenin blanc can be a good choice for this type of dressing. The wine tends to be quite acidic and a little sweet, a combination that contrasts well against the blue cheeses.
Spicy Egg Rolls
Egg rolls make the perfect finger food at many events. If yours are on the spicy side, then riesling could be the perfect wine to serve.
Riesling works because it is often relatively low in alcohol, has notable acidity, and a bright flavor profile. The combination gives you just the contrast that you need with any spicy food.
Once again, you could also try a sparkling white wine. The bubbles can be an excellent contrast, but only if your appetizer isn’t too spicy. If the spiciness is intense then the riesling may be a better choice.
The strong flavor and saltiness of olives is a surprisingly good match for a fino sherry. This type of sherry is unusual, as it tends to have less alcohol content than other sherries and is dry rather than sweet.
The pairing works best when the sherry has been well-chilled first. Of course, this might not be a pairing that you serve your guests, as it’s a perfect choice for the cook who is preparing the finger foods for everyone else.
If you’re serving tortilla chips on their own, then a simple pinot gris or pinot grigio, is an easy choice, as either type of wine is light and balances out the saltiness of the chips. For that matter, pinot gris and pinot grigio are largely the same type of wine.
The difference in name is a reference to slight style variations and where the wine initially comes from. Pinot gris tends to be richer and has more alcohol, while pinot grigio is lighter and has simpler flavors.
If the nachos are being served with salsa, then a chardonnay could be a useful choice. The fruitiness of the wine works well with the tomato in your salsa.
For guacamole, consider a sauvignon blanc, particularly one from New Zealand. Sauvignon blanc tends to be zesty with appealing acidity, so it pairs well with the flavors of avocado. Plus, you still have that nice balance between crisp wine and salty chips.
When you want something casual, sausage balls can be a fun finger food. They’re often made using pork and are savory, so a white wine is the best choice here.
Many white wines will go well, particularly dry whites and off-dry styles, but why not try a sparkling white wine instead? The bubbles add an element of interest to your experience and tend to be very refreshing.
Cava, from Spain, is an appealing sparkling white wine to try out. It isn’t as well-known as champagne, but this doesn’t stop it from being delicious.
Pigs in a Blanket
Speaking of savory dishes, pigs in a blanket is a straightforward appetizer that is always popular. The similarity between sausage balls and pigs in a blanket means that you could easily rely on a sparkling white wine once again, but this isn’t your only option.
Why not try for something different and serve a medium-bodied red wine with the finger food instead? The tannins in the wine are perfect with fatty dishes like this, helping to mellow out the fattiness while creating a richer experience all around.
Cabernet sauvignon is an ideal wine for this effect. It happens to be a popular one too, so you can easily find it at local stores. For something more unusual, you could try Barbera D’Asti, which is a red wine from northern Italy. This wine has some similarities to cabernet sauvignon, but it interesting enough to try on its own too.
Beer is normally the drink of choice for soft pretzels, but many Californian wines end up working well with the pretzels too. These wines often aren’t expensive either, making this a good combination for a casual event.
A pinot noir is a good choice here, as the wine is relatively light-bodied and doesn’t tend to overwhelm many foods. Pinot noir works regardless of whether you’re serving plain pretzels or ones with mustard.
On the other hand, if you’re serving nacho cheese with the pretzels, then chardonnay is a better choice. Chardonnay tends to pair well with cheesy and buttery foods, as it is more creamy than other types of white wine. There’s also enough acidity present to stop the combination from becoming overwhelming.
Prosciutto is an interesting type of cured meat, as it tends to be sliced very thinly and is largely uncooked. Prosciutto tends to be sweet and salty, with a distinctive flavor profile that is hard to miss.
You need an interesting wine to balance this combination of features and a lighter style of chianti does so perfectly. Chianti and prosciutto both come from Italy, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that the pairing works well.
Here’s a fascinating option. Did you know that buttered popcorn pairs well with wine? And, not just any wine either – champagne. The bubbly freshness of champagne lifts the popcorn to an entirely new level, while also refreshing your palate between bites.
Other types of sparking white wine will work well too. Still, there’s something fun about combining expensive champagne with such a run-of-the-mill snack.
If you’re not convinced about sparkling white wine, then you could consider a chardonnay instead. Chardonnay is known for its buttery flavors, so the way that the wine complements buttered popcorn isn’t surprising at all.
Now that we’re on the topic of casual finger foods, let’s talk about potato chips. They’re another snack that you might not normally pair with wine. Yet, the combination can work well, as long as you pay attention to the flavor of the chips.
If you’re looking at salted chips with little other flavors, then a pinot gris can work well. This bright wine helps to balance the oiliness of the chips and the salt, without adding too much flavor to the pairing.
For barbecue chips, on the other hand, a stronger wine is needed. A rich zinfandel can do the trick, as the fruit in the wine delightfully contrasts against the spicy sweetness of barbecue flavoring. The effect isn’t too surprising, as zinfandel also pairs well with barbecue sauces and meats.
If your chips have an onion flavor instead or you’re using a sour cream-based dip, then merlot could be a better choice. This red wine isn’t as fruity as zinfandel, so you end up with a smoother combination.
While cheese curls come in many styles, most types retain the classic crunchy and cheesy characteristics. Cabernet sauvignon ends up being a surprisingly good pairing, as the blackcurrant and cherry flavors in the wine contrast nicely against the cheesiness of the snacks.
Chocolate is one of the best finger foods for wine pairing because chocolate is popular and we all want to enjoy it with wine. Even if you’re not serving pieces of chocolate at your event, there’s a good chance that something is chocolate flavored.
We’ve covered chocolate and wine pairing in a separate post, as there is a lot to think about. But, in general, white chocolate pairs well with wines that are slightly sweet, like sherry or an off-dry riesling. Milk chocolate is flexible and can be served with many types of wine., with pinot noir being a simple choice.
Dark chocolate, on the other hand, is tricky. Some people enjoy it with a full-bodied red wine, while others find that the tannins in the red wine clash too much with the flavanols in the dark chocolate. If you fall into the latter camp, then zinfandel or pinot noir could be a good alternative red wine.
Bruschetta with Basil and Tomato Sauce
Bruschetta makes an easy base for countless finger foods and appetizers. Of course, it’s the toppings that you use on the bruschetta that determine the best wines to match with the finger food.
When you use basil and tomato sauce, you end up with similar flavors to a margherita pizza, with much less effort. Because the finger food is Italian themed anyway, you could easily pair it with an Italian red wine blend. Or, if you want something different, how about a cabernet sauvignon or merlot?
A Guide to Pairing Food With Sparkling
Thirty years ago, a 16-year-old named Dan Buckle worked a summer job installing the irrigation system at a budding Yarra Valley winery that was then little more than a building site. Today, Buckle is senior winemaker at that same winery: Domaine Chandon.
“Life takes its funny turns,” says Buckle, who grew up on the Mornington Peninsula where his father tended a hobby vineyard. Working at restaurants during uni prompted him to revisit his dad’s interest in grapes. Buckle embarked on a winemaking degree “and never looked back”.
Domaine Chandon has genuine French heritage. The founders of
Moët & Chandon searched worldwide in the hope of finding an ideal climate in which to apply Champagne expertise to local varieties. Victoria’s Yarra Valley had just the cool climate that was needed. The bold redesign of its cellar door and restaurant won an Asia Pacific INDE.Award (in The Shopping Space category) and won the Australia & Pacific Bar award at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards in the UK.
The team regularly hosts a masterclass on all aspects of sparkling-wine production at the vineyard – something Buckle hopes helps correct some common misconceptions.
“People often think of sparkling wine as a before-dinner thing, or a party thing,” he says. “It’s actually terrific to have with a meal, and can go really widely across different ranges of food.”
We asked Buckle for his guide to pairing sparkling with food.
Cuvée with fancy fish and chips
Sparkling wine and fish and chips? Buckle says it’s a winner. “We really love fish and chips with sparkling,” he says. “It’s marvellous. “The acidity in the wine complements seafood and helps cut through the saltiness, keeping the pairing delicious.”
While the pairing still works with your favourite finds from your local fishmonger, at Domaine Chandon executive chef Joshua Smyth has an elegant spin –a Chandon Cellar Door Release Meunier Cuvée 2014 with a main of fried silver whiting fillets, served with lemon mayonnaise and pommes frites with rosemary salt and aioli.
Rosé with duck
Pairing a rich meat with rosé allows the wine’s innate fruit notes to offset the gaminess of a dish like duck.
“The red berry flavours that come with the pinot noir [grapes] in rosé – cherry and redcurrant and cranberry – are a really nice offset alongside duck,” says Buckle, who likes the restaurant’s confit free-range duck leg with truffled polenta, wild-mushroom civet and baby spinach, with a Chandon Vintage Brut Rosé 2014. “Duck with cherry sauce is a classic French dish,” he says, “so this replaces [that] with a wine that has a strong cherry element.”
Cuvée and risotto
“Risotto can be a little bit heavy,” says Buckle. "But sparkling wine brings a lightness to it. It’s really refreshing.” Smyth pairs the Chandon Vintage Blanc de Noirs 2014’s aromas of red cherry, plum and raspberry with a pumpkin and pecorino risotto, finished with mascarpone.
Dessert-style sparkling and cheese
Some people reach for the chocolate when it’s time for dessert, but sparkling – like the new Le Petit Chandon – also goes well with a classic cheeseboard. “It’s just beautiful with blue cheese, like a bit of Roquefort or gorgonzola,” says Buckle. “You’ve got that salty cheese and the sweet wine, and the combination just goes so well together.”
For all its daily pairings, sparkling wine is still synonymous with momentous occasions. “Every bottle we produce is going off to someone’s celebration or marks a little moment in people’s lives,” says Buckle. “Sparkling is special like that.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Domaine Chandon.
What Pairs Well with Sparkling Rosé?
The effervescence that fills a glass of sparkling rosé has the power to transform ordinary moments into celebratory ones. But as you drink pink you may be wondering: what should I pair with sparkling rosé?
The answer is easy – almost anything! Whether dining at a five-star restaurant or enjoying movie night at home, you can feel confident popping open a well-chilled bottle of sparkling rosé with your favorite fare.
Sparkling wine is extremely versatile for pairing, and this is especially true for sparkling rosé. To give the wines their appealing pink hue, the winemaker either macerated red grapes on their skins for a short time, or she added a bit of red wine to the blend. Either process gives the wine more body, heavier mouthfeel and fruitier notes than white wines, enhancing most foods without overwhelming their flavors.
Sparkling rosé also tends to have naturally high acidity, in the 3-4 pH range, a hallmark of all great food pairing wines. Lower pH wines have higher acidity, which gives them the power to cut through rich sauces while complementing lighter fare like fresh salads, sushi, soft cheese or seafood. The dry acidity of sparkling rosé helps it pair especially well with greasy, fatty, fried and spicy dishes. Crisp acidity creates a mouthwatering finish to each fizzy sip, scrubbing your palate clean ahead of the next bite.
The diversity of sparkling rosé food pairings leads to a diversity of serving occasions. From frittata to fruit tarts, citrusy salads to spicy BBQ, sparkling rosé can better your brunch, offer a refreshing aperitif and claim its place at the table from breakfast to dessert. As it stands up to meals that combine sweet and savory flavors, sparkling rosé is also one of the best wines to serve for Thanksgiving.
The beauty is that a quality sparkling rosé doesn’t have to break the bank. It’s possible to find even French bubbles far below the price tag of Champagne, such as Le Grand Courtâge Brut Rosé. This crisp, refreshing wine exhibits dryness and acidity with fruit and floral notes, which make it cuisine and cocktail friendly. Female wine entrepreneur Tawnya Falkner moved to France to create Le Grand Courtâge, with the goal of creating approachable, affordable, versatile wines.
“Our Brut Rosé is a blend of several grape varietals including Chardonnay and Gamay, which creates a unique fruit profile and offers the depth of flavor and richness to pair with an array of foods,” said Falkner. “My recommendation is to pop a cork, raise a glass and – rather than bubbles making a cameo appearance – make sparkling the star of any occasion.”
Le Grand Courtâge also produces a still rosé made of Grenache and Cinsault from the Languedoc-Roussillon under their Très Chic label, and a Blancs de Blancs Brut that is Falkner’s favorite pairing for fried chicken or buttered popcorn.
Taste and Flavor Profile
Most widely available moscato wine is made in the style of moscato d'Asti. The frizzante (semi-sparkling) wine is known for its perfume-like fragrance, light-body, low alcohol content, and dazzling fruit-forward profile with a welcoming sweet factor. Moscato's inherent aromatics include orange blossom, honeysuckle, almonds, and ginger with flavors of ultra-expressive fruit like green grapes, citrus, and ripe peach. The delicate cascade of bubbles, light body, and sweetness make it a refreshing addition to brunch, a hot summer day, or even dessert.
The white wine is low in tannins, but there are red wine grapes in the muscat family. Black muscat can be used to make a red moscato with berry and floral notes, although it's not particularly common. Most moscato wines are white, with varying levels of sweetness, acidity, and bubbles.
How to Taste Wine
Follow these steps when tasting wine to ensure you have the best experience:
- Look: Take a good look at the wine through the glass, examining the color and opacity.
- Smell: Swirl your glass for 10 seconds and take a quick whiff. Stick your nose into the wine glass for a deep inhale, taking in your first impressions of the wine.
- Taste: Take a small sip and let it move around your mouth. Note the sugar, acidity, tannins, and alcohol content when first tasting, then move on to tasting notes (fruit, spice, wood) and finally the finish.
How To Pair Sparkling Wine With Food
Sparkling wine is not just for special occasions. In fact, bubbly can make any occasion special. Especially when paired with food. Yes, there is so much more to these wines than ringing in the New Year. So let’s let the Champagne sit on the shelf for a bit and dive into some of the other fun and affordable sparklers out there that can be great no matter the occasion.
Cava is a sparkling wine from Catalonia in Northeastern Spain. It’s made in the same way as Champagne, with a second fermentation in the bottle, but from completely different and native grapes to their land (Chardonnay is sometimes blended in, though in small amounts). The primary variety in the blend is often the almond and floral Macabeu that gives off a little bitterness on the back end. To balance that slight bitter note Xerello is brought into the mix, matching those floral notes and bringing some melon hints to the blend. And lastly the Peralleda grape is added for its lemony bright acidity. The result is a very refreshing, somewhat dry bubbly that is still fruity.
For a food pairing simple tapas style dishes are perfect with this bubbly. If you can match the high acidity of the wine, then the fruitiness will come center stage and marry with the flavors of the food. Try an easy tomato rubbed bread with Serrano ham or grilled whole herring with mustard and grilled vegetables and you’ll be the life of the picnic!
36 Gifts and Gadgets For Anyone Who Loves Drinks
Freixenet is the ubiquitous Cava on the market but I love the also not hard to find Juvé Y Camps, which is a blend of the three native grapes with a skosh of Chardonnay and runs at about $10-$15. The acidity will match the saltiness and make your palate pop.
Crémant de Bourgogne
Crémant is a term France ushered into its wine laws of in the seventies to distinguish all sparkling wine produced outside of Champagne. There are several styles of Crémant across the country but none so sexy as Burgundy’s Crémant de Bourgogne. Made form primarily Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — if the wine is labeled Blanc de Blanc it is made from all white grapes, and crispy Aligote may be added to lighten things up. When labelled Blanc de Noir it’s made from all red grapes (Gamay may be added for aromatics). There is also just straight up Blanc which can be a combination of any and all of the above mentioned grapes. There are different styles even within the Crémant de Bourgogne category but generally these wines are about half the price of Champagne, usually around $20, and full of elegance with delicate bubbles and a nice round texture, allowing the palate to really enjoy the floral and fruit aromas of the wine.
When I think Crémant de Bourgogne I think pork. Few things in life are as fine as a late lunch with this sexy wine and a Pork Rillete or this funky Open BLT with some well-cured bacon.
There are many of these bottles out there on the market but the white Domaine Louis Bouillot is a well-known example and runs $15-20. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay and Aligote. The salt and fat of the above mentioned pork dishes will accent the round juicy structure of the wine and cleanse the palate.