Top pairings | What wine to pair with canapés and other party food

Top pairings

What wine to pair with canapés and other party food

You might think wine pairing is a strange subject for a post on canapés as they are by their very nature varied and no-one - even a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant - pairs a different wine with each one.

But there are different styles of canapés these days - hot and cold which suit different styles of wine.

When I say canapés I basically mean finger food. Small bites you pick up off a tray or platter as opposed to more substantial party food or the appetizers you might offer at a sit-down meal.

The main thing to bear in mind is to go for a crowd-pleasing wine that will appeal to the maximum number of your guests. One that is not too high in alcohol or heavily oaked. Party rooms tend to be hot so you want your wines to be refreshing

What wine to pair with cold canapés

Smoked salmon canapés by Mateusz Gzik at shutterstock.com

Mini canapés with smoked salmon by Mateusz Gzik at shutterstock.com

It’s hard to go wrong with sparkling wine with classic canapés such as smoked salmon, crostini or  mini quiches. For some that’s likely to be prosecco but many people these days prefer a drier sparkling wine such as a crémant or a Cava. If you’re going to splash out on champagne make it a non-vintage one that is designed to be drunk as an aperitif rather than a vintage. A blanc de blancs style (generally 100% chardonnay) works particularly well as does a sparkling rosé. 

You could also serve a crisp white wine like a Picpoul de Pinet or a pinot grigio or - particularly though not exclusively in the summer - a Provençal or other southern French rosé.

What wine goes well with hot canapés

Fried food such as croquetas or arancini also go well with fizz

With more substantial meaty snacks like hot sausages, sausage rolls or bao buns you might want to lay on a smooth, medium-bodied red like a merlot though frankly it’s unlikely you’re going to switch in the middle of a party

Alcohol-free drinks with canapés

There are alcohol-free sparkling wines but with one or two exceptions I’m not a fan. But you can find very drinkable sparkling kombuchas like LA Kombucha and Saicho sparkling tea which make a better alternative.

Wines to go with other party food

Wine pairings for a cold buffet

Party food by Pia Kamp on Unsplash

Party buffet by Pia Kamp at unsplash.com

Buffets tend to include everything and anything. Quiches, frittatas, salads, dips, cold meats and cheeses .... They're more like a meal than a series of snacks so tend to work better with still wines than bubbles. Smooth dry relatively neutral white wines like Italian whites, chenin blanc and inexpensive white burgundy tend to work well as does dry rosé and light reds such gamay and pinot noir. This South African white and red I recently recommended from Majestic would work really well.

Wines that go with hot party food

Hot party food is not that different from regular meals just made in larger quantities. It could be a casserole, a chilli or a curry (You’ll find pairings to all of those if you click on the links.

If you’re hosting a brunch though you might want to go back to fizz: crémant or cava again I suggest though prosecco works better if you’re making cocktails like bucks fizz (sparkling wine and orange juice) Check out this post on pairing wine and eggs 

Bearing in mind this general advice you might want to theme your drinks if your food is a certain style. So, for example, if you were having a pizza party you might lay on Italian beers like Peroni or Moretti, whites and Sicilian reds, if you're serving dim sum or other Asian-style snacks you might want to serve a dry riesling or if with tapas you could pour a fino or manzanilla sherry as one of the drinks. (I would offer a choice as dry sherry is not for everyone. Cava or a dry white wine like Rueda or an unoaked white rioja would be a good alternative)

See this post on six of the best Spanish wines to pair with tapas

Sweet canapés and party desserts

Often a drinks party will end up with some sweet canapés. To be honest most people will carry on with whatever’s in their glass but in an ideal world you might offer a slightly sweeter sparkling wine like prosecco extra dry (which oddly means a sweeter style than brut. If you're offering a selection of puddings you could choose a light dessert wine like a Monbazillac but it's a tall order to pair a plate that includes a pavlova and chocolate cake. Again prosecco should take you through.

See also what wine to pair with appetizers

Top image: party food by Fusionstudio at shutterstock.com

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