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Best holiday appetizer and drink pairings

Holiday party planning just got easier with our list of the best holiday appetizers and drink pairings. Find out which appetizers will best complement the flavors in red wine, white wine, whiskey, tequila and beer.

Fig and cheese appetizer with wine

Most people know the basic rule of thumb with wine: white wine with white meat or fish and red wine with red meat. With other drinks, such as whiskey or tequila, the rules may not be as straightforward. Find out our picks for the best drinks to perfectly complement your holiday appetizers.

Holiday appetizer and drink pairings

Cheese and wine, whiskey or beer

What is the best drink to go with the staple holiday cheese ball or cheese plate? If your cheese plate includes fruits and nuts, choose a pinot noir. They tend to have very delicate tannins, but enough to cut through the cheese fat and complement the cheese aromas, along with the fruit and nuts. Cheese also complements both beer and whiskey drinks! Blue cheese, Gouda, Gruyere and cheddar go well with whiskey or scotch.

Bacon wrapped chestnuts and syrah

Bacon appetizers are very popular during the holidays, and you can’t go wrong with bacon-wrapped chestnuts. This trendy holiday appetizer is best paired with a syrah from the south of France. These syrahs are spicy, herbal, and have a meaty texture that will foil the saltiness of the meat and make its savory qualities shine. The chestnut will taste nuttier and richer than if served alone.

Oysters and white wine

For oyster appetizers, a chardonnay is your best bet. Chardonnay aged in stainless steel won’t have a buttery characteristic, but try to find one that has a hint of citrus. These flavors in the wine complement the rich oyster flavor.

Shrimp appetizers and bourbon whiskey

If you are serving shrimp with a sauce, consider complementing the tastes in the sauce with your drink pairing. Try serving shrimp skewers with a peach bourbon barbecue sauce, and pair it with bourbon whiskey. Since the recipe uses bourbon as well, it pairs perfectly with the drink.

Salty appetizers and Champagne

Crack open the bubbly to pair with salty appetizers, such as popcorn or potato latkes. Champagnes and chardonnay-based sparkling wines from France and California have an acidity and yeastiness that enhances the flavor of the salty, starchy goodness. The fruity bubbles add a kick to fairly neutral flavors to create a snack you never thought could be this good!

What about tequila?

There are plenty of holiday appetizers that perfectly complement tequila. Try oysters on the half shell, Swedish meatballs, warm artichoke dip, or bacon-wrapped dates with different types of tequila. Tequilas have varying flavors and are fun to test with these appetizers. Anyone getting hungry?

Dessert & Drink pairings

In general, most experts agree that you want to pair a dry wine with sweet foods, such as holiday pies and cookies. There are no exact rules, however, and pairing whiskey with apple pudding topped with warm whiskey sauce would be delicious.

More holiday appetizer and drink pairings

Jill Silverman Hough, author of 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love offers these fun suggestions for holiday appetizer and wine pairings — and all the recipes below can be found in her book:

  • Baked Goat Cheese with Herbed Breadcrumbs (Pinot grigio)
  • Green Apple Caesar Salad (Pinot grigio)
  • Baked Brie and Roasted Garlic in Phyllo (Chardonnay)
  • French Onion Soup (Chardonnay)
  • Nutty Fondue (Viognier)
  • Red Hawk Cheese with Star Anise Syrup (Gewurztraminer)
  • Fig, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad with Candied Pecans (Rosé)
  • Mushroom Brie Puff Pastry Bites (Pinot noir)
  • Marinated Black Olives with Citrus and Garlic (Zinfandel)
  • Bacon-Wrapped Halibut Bites with Balsamic Drizzle (Syrah)
  • Rosemary Walnuts (Cabernet sauvignon)

Tell us

What is your favorite food and wine pairing during the holidays? Share in the comments below!

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