4 of 36Photo by Lisa Romerein; written by Amy Machnak
California Caviar Tasting
Set 1 jar (1 oz.) California caviar* in a bowl of ice on a platter. In smaller, individual dishes, serve minced shallot, crème fraîche topped with chopped chives, shredded lemon zest, and melba toast or toasted baguette slices. (*Seetsarnicoulai.com)
Pair with: Blanc de blancs sparkling wine or Sauvignon Blanc
5 of 36Photo by Lisa Romerein; written by Amy Machnak
Steak and “Oyster” Skewers
Mini-skewers are the perfect party food. This earthy combination holds up well to a bold red.
27 of 36Photo by Annabelle Breakey; written by Amy Machnak
Chocolate Candied Almonds
Warning: These candies are very addictive. Therefore, we suggest you make a big batch and give some as gifts, serve some at your holiday party, and keep a small stash just for yourself. For emergencies, of course.
31 of 36Photo by Aya Brackett; written by Sara Schneider
Countless holiday toasts are fueled by sparkling wine, yet most partygoers don’t pay much attention to what’s in the glass they’re raising. But look deeper into the bubbles and you discover two terrific things: First, sparklers are fantastic with food. Their fairly low alcohol levels, bracing acidity, and texture from effervescence make the most of flavors and dishes that challenge many still wines: salty, fried, and spicy fare, for example, or soup. Second, sparkling isn’t just one kind of wine. The brut (dry) category we drink most often in this country offers four styles that taste very different from one another, each working its own special magic with the menu. We’ve designed dynamite appetizers to be spot-on matches for each wine style. Of course, no harm’s done if your guests sip and nibble outside the recommended pairings; bubbly’s food friendliness makes any combination here a good bite.
32 of 36Photo by Aya Brackett; written by Sara Schneider
Onion and Caviar Chips with Spicy Crème Fraîche
Potato chips and bubbly are a stealth match; caramelized onions pull out the toastiness in the wine; the tang of the cream works with the wine’s acidity; and the salmon roe adds brininess (and the right color). Set out the components and let guests build their own stacks.
33 of 36Photo by Aya Brackett; written by Sara Schneider
Mini Corn Dogs with Cranberry Mustard
The Chardonnay in a brut blend pairs well with the corn and the mustard, while the Pinot Noir builds bridges to the hot dog and the cranberry in the dip. Make the Cranberry Mustard before you start the dogs.
34 of 36Photo by Aya Brackett; written by Sara Schneider
Herbed Onion Parmesan Toasts
An all-Chardonnay blanc de blancs has an herbal quality that loves the green onions and dill in this appetizer, a brioche layer that echoes the toast itself, and a bright acidity that cuts through the rich mayo and cheese.
Pair with: Iron Horse 2008 Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs (Green Valley of Russian River Valley; $45); Rack & Riddle Blanc de Blancs (North Coast; $20); Schramsberg 2010 Blanc de Blancs.
35 of 36Photo by Aya Brackett; written by Sara Schneider
Creole Shrimp Bisque
Soup is a hard match for wine—liquid on liquid. Sparklers fix the texture problem, with bubbles for contrast. Here, the red fruit in a rosé really pops with the sweet shrimp and tames the heat of the cayenne. And bubbly’s characteristic yeastiness echoes the slightly darkened roux thickening this bisque.
36 of 36Photo by Aya Brackett; written by Sara Schneider
Beef Empanadas with Chimichurri
A Pinot Noir–based blanc de noirs is more than a match for beef, and the wine’s mix of sweetness, brininess, and spiciness works on all levels with the raisins, olives, cumin, and chile. Make the Chimichurri before you start the empanadas.
Pair with: Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs (Carneros; $22); VML 2007 Virginia Marie Lambrix Blanc de Noirs (Russian River Valley; $50).