Holiday Food & Wine Pairings: Pairing Wine with Holiday Appetizers

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.

Wine and Appetizer Pairing

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’s 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 compliment these sauces because they have softer, less acidic tastes so they pair well with cream sauces.

Now, onto the appetizer pairings!

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Top 5 Wines That Should Never Be Given as a Holiday Gift

5 Worst Wine GiftsEvery wine lover can appreciate a nice bottle of vino as a gift for the holidays. In lieu of actual wine, a nice wine accessory can even work in a pinch. Gifting a unique wine rack, wine charms, a fine new decanter, a new wine cellar in the basement (if you’re lucky …) can put a smile on any wine spectator’s face. It’s not too hard to get someone a great wine gift!

However, there are SOME wines you don’t want to surprise someone with during the holidays, or really, any time during the year. To help you avoid giving out a poor wine gift this season, Winery-Sage has produced a list of the top five wines which should never be gifted. Hoping to provide a little humor during your holiday shopping, you can use this to guide your gift buying and avoid shocking your hosts at a holiday party. You’ll thank us later! Read on for the suggestions.

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Food & Wine Pairings: First, Know the Basics

Food and Wine PairingPairing Wines Any Great Meal

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first timer, if you are planning to serve wine with your a fine meal, serving the right type of wine can’t be overstated. Below, we’ve provided some general terms and guidelines along with some handy links that are good to have at your fingertips.

Once you’ve read through this, check out our next three posts that describe more details for paring wines with:

  • Appetizers
  • Main Courses
  • Desserts

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Wine Travels: The Yosemite Sierra Wine Road

Explorers:
Karen – Ken
Check out their tastes and Bios here

Wineries Visited
Fasi Estate – production: 800 cases
Westbrook Wine Farm – less than 1,000 cases
Idle Hour Winery – 1,200 cases

Winery-Sage.com Listing:
1) View more information for the Yosemite Sierra Wine Road on their Association listing on the Winery-Sage.com main web site.

2) To view more information for the Wineries of Madera County (the local regional association),  click here and type “Madera” in the “quick search” field to see their listing on Winery-Sage.com.

3) View more information for the larger Madera Wine Trail on their Association listing on the Winery-Sage.com main site.

4) More information can be found for each Varietal that we’ve listed by clicking on the link that we’ve created the first time the Varietal is listed in each post.

General Location
Believe it or not, vineyards and wineries in Madera County produce approximately 10% of the wine grapes grown in California. Most of those find their way into the hands of the mass producers but there are a number of smaller wineries that create artisan wines. Three of them are located on the Yosemite Sierra Wine Road in eastern Madera County. The Wine Trail is in the hills, on the way to Yosemite rather than the Valley where most other Madera County Wineries reside. Heading north from the highway 99 – highway 41 junction the first winery, Fasi Estates is about 20 minutes outside of Fresno on highway 41. Westbrook Wine Farm is another 15 minutes from Fasi and Idle Hour is 30 minutes from Westbrook. In other words, this isn’t a trip for those who want to hit a winery every 5 minutes. However, if you have the patience, the wines and the views are worth the trip. Read More

Wine Travels: The Santa Clara Valley (part 1)

Aver Family Vineyards (foreground) and Jason Steven's Vineyards (background)

Aver Family and Jason Steven’s Vineyards

Date: Nov 3rd, 2012
Explorers: Karen – Ken
Check out their tastes and Bios here

Wineries Visited
Lightheart Cellars – production: 1,000 cases
Clos LaChance Winery (we forgot to get the total production on this one – hey no one’s perfect)
Sycamore Creek Vineyards – production: 2,500 cases
Aver Family Vineyards – production: 1,200 cases
Jason Stephens Winery – production: 15,000 cases

Winery-Sage.com Listing:
1) View more information for Santa Clara County Wineries (the local regional association) on their Association listing on the Winery-Sage.com main web site, click here.

2) To view more information on specific Santa Clara County Wineries ,  click here and type “Santa Clara” in the “quick search” field to see their listing on Winery-Sage.com.

4) More information can be found for each Varietal that we’ve listed by clicking on the link that we’ve created the first time the Varietal is listed in each post.

General Location
Santa Clara Valley is located at the south end of the San Francisco Bay. Its main city is San Jose. The five wineries where we tasted are located within 15 minutes of each other, roughly 25 minutes southwest of downtown San Jose. For those who get motion sickness and can’t handle a wine tasting trip in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this is for you. Generally, the roads are so flat and straight that the only turn you’re likely to make is correcting for an alignment problem on your car.
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The Sauvignon Blanc Rant

Sauvignon Blancs – there aren’t many more polarizing wines widely available right now.  People seem to love them or hate them.  Generally, Karen and I fall strongly in the “hate” camp.  Is hate, too strong a word?  Naw…if anything, it’s not strong enough.  We don’t like them…I mean we really don’t like them. Ironic that it’s one of my mom’s favorite wines so if my parents come over for dinner, they bring one and invariably leave part of a bottle in our fridge. Usually free wine is a good thing but to us, Sauvignon Blanc is just a colossal waste of space.

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