Wines for Holiday Canapes

Four champagne flutes in the foreground, and blurry Christmas tree in the background

There is a wine for every bite. 

By Erin Henderson

I subscribe to a lot of food and drink newsletters (psst – I also write one, you can sign up here.) And, since the beginning of October, the prevailing theme for all of them has been about The X Number of Top/Best/Perfect Appetizers/Finger Foods/Hors d’Oeuvres for Thanksgiving/Christmas/The Holidays.

Clearly, we are a nation focused, and perhaps fixated, on delicious bites to wow a crowd. I’m a member in excellent standing of that club.

If you would like to maximize your cocktail party success, here are some ideas for delicious wine pairings, no matter what is being passed around.

a selection of small bites on trays, flutes of champagne in the background

Things Wrapped in Pastry

Think finger foods like pinwheels, mini pizzas, or pigs in a blanket. While the flavours and textures will vary depending in the recipe, you will want to brighten up that buttery, rich pastry with a refreshing wine.

You might also like: Ham + Swiss Pinwheel Recipe

Try: Chardonnay. Pastry is naturally buttery and bready, which mirror the flavours and weight of Chardonnay. Meanwhile, Chard’s subtle brightness compliment the food.

Deep Fried Things

I’m convinced you could deep fry an old shoe and people will gobble it up. You just can’t resist the crispy, crunchy, fatty goodness of a well-fried…anything. In this category think spring rolls, calamari, arancini, tempura… you get the idea.

You might also like: Thai Coconut Shrimp Recipe

Try: Champagne. Hands down one of my favourite pairings of all time, brut (dry) bubbly and fried food is quite likely the best food and wine pairing match there is. The sharp edges of the prickling fizz mop up all that fat, while the rich textures of the food, smooth out the angularity of the wine.

Light Protein Things

Deviled eggs, poached shrimp, raw oysters, these all have a certain rich weight to them, but still present as light and easy going.

Try: Sauvignon Blanc. These foods are creamy and rich but still have a bit tang to them – especially when partnered with zippy cocktail, mignonette, or mustard sauces. Balance this with a wine of silky texture and its own acidic energy. Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé, both Sauv Blancs from France’s Loire region would fit the bill.

Heavy Protein Things

Charcuterie boards, meatballs, and pâtés all have a hefty amount of protein and fat. Big girls like this need a dance partner who won’t shy from their power.

You might also like: Gamay is the Perfect Fall Red

Try: Gamay. These meaty bites have a fair amount of fat which need a wine with some good acid. Meanwhile the smooth tannins of Gamay work well with the proteins in these canapés, while the juicy, fruity character of the wine compliments the earthy notes of the appetizers.  

Creamy Things

Whether we’re talking baked camembert or a creamy dip we’ve got a deliciously decadent food that literally oozes indulgence. Rather than pile on the abundance with an equally full flavoured wine, balance it out with a wine with some snap.

Try: Pinot Grigio. This northern Italian white wine’s neutral flavours support the rich appetizers like a frame around a beautiful painting. And the wine’s zesty energy lighten up the food.

Hear From Real People!

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I had the pleasure of attending the Oceania Cruise event where you conducted a wine pairing. I have to say that your wine and food pairing made a typically ho hum travel information night, spectacular! I have never done a wine pairing. I was amazed at how food interacted with the wines.
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