Concha y Toro

Ania Smolec 06/11/2015

5 steps for choosing wine for finger food


I cannot imagine a party or even a meeting at home without a variety of finger food. The picoteos, as they are called in Chile, can be prepared with an infinite variety of products. So I recommend some tips for choosing the wines.

There is nothing more to say. Its name says it all. The category of “finger food” (or its unglamorous literal translation: small portions to eat with your fingers) confronts us with a variety of cuisines, techniques and products, where the most important is to make our guests happy. In other words, we must offer an entertaining menu, of course, but also filling the hunger.

Finger food or appetizers can be a full meal or just an entry before the main meal. In almost every corner of the world you can find a dish which will serve as a finger food, such as Spanish tapas, Greek mezes or French hors de ouvre. Just pick your favorite ingredients and use your imaginations to make a real show of flavors and colors.

1. Main Product Weight

hummusThe success of matching the wine and finger food depends on the balance between the weight of food protein and wine body. For example, if you will serve a fish ceviche, seasoned with a rich lemon juice and a bouquet of herbs, you cannot accompany it with a full-bodied red wine. This wine could dominate the plate and produce a true short circuit in your palate. In this case you need a cool, white wine with good acidity like Trio Sauvignon Blanc.

Think through what you want to incorporate into your recipe. If you are preparing a mini sandwich with rolled pork you can probably think of a light-bodied red wine or a white wine with good structure, as Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay. If your mini sandwich incorporates roast beef, you have to look for a more structured wine, such as Casillero del Diablo Shiraz.

But what if your mini dish is not a sandwich but a mini quiche, or a spicier and more structured preparation, such as meatloaf? In this case you have to consider harmonizing a red wine with beef. Also think about its method of preparation (this took long hours in the oven), which makes it more complex, so it needs a very definite red wine body, with good acidity, but also with rich tannins like Trio Cabernet Sauvignon.

2. What about veggie food?


 Surely many of you prefer vegetarian food or have to offer options for those veggie friends. The most important thing is to note the different weights of the vegetable protein. For example, a toast with chickpea hummus has less weight than a mini pita with black bean paste.

With the first option I suggest to serve a medium body white wine, such as Frontera Specialties Authentic Blanco (a mix of highly aromatic varieties such as Riesling, Viognier and Chenin Blanc), while for the second option I recommend Frontera Specialties Pais (a medium body red wine with rich juiciness). 

3. Cooking Method

EmbutidosThe cooking method is very important when considering a menu of finger food. As you know, cooked dishes have less weight than grilled ones. Besides, dressings also play a role. For example, if your finger food consist of various styles of sausages (pork sausages, salami, raw and smoked hams), you can pour a medium body red wine such as Casillero del Diablo Carmenere, rich, juicy, with spicy notes in its bouquet and very versatile for such products. But if you prepare sausages or mini hot dogs on the grill, you will need a wine with more body and here I recommend Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon.

The other method of cooking that also influences the pairing is frying. Generally with fried food corresponds well a sparkling wine, crisp, with rich acidity that cleans and reduces feelings of frying. Try, for example, fried shrimp with Casillero Diablo Devil’s Collection Brut. And if you plan to serve some mini falafel burgers, consider the freshness, but also a good structure, and serve them with Frontera Cabernet Blush.

4. What if we add a special flavor?

rollos chinosSometimes we are keen to experiment with new recipes and surprise our guests. Some unique or oriental flavors can be a real challenge with wine. So I recommend you to be very careful and consider the flavor profile of your dish. For example, if you will prepare an oriental dish, such as Chinese rolls with vegetables and chicken, seasoned with ginger, sweet, sour and spicy flavors, consider a white wine with good acidity, with a soft touch of sweetness and floral aromas. Casillero del Diablo Pinot Grigio is the perfect companion for such exotic and intense seasonings like ginger.

If your recipe has a high level of spices, almost hot flavors like chicken wings with paprika and cayenne peppers, you need a wine that shows the due course of this recipe, but also a good counterpoint to mitigate this fire in your mouth. For that I suggest Casillero del Diablo Shiraz Rosé, a with a perfect balance between body and freshness.

1. Several wine styles or just one?

jamon serrano + botellaSome styles of finger food are very versatile and allow organizing a small comparative tasting of different valleys, varieties and flavors. For example, cheese is a wonderful snack, which can be accompanied by at least four different wines: a sparkling wine as Casillero del Diablo Brut Reserva, a rosé wine, such as Casillero del Diablo Shiraz Rosé, a medium-bodied white like Trio Chardonnay and a red medium body as Trio Merlot.

If you ask me which one is better, my answer is very simple: let your preference or taste decide. If I have to choose one, I would go for a white, but there are cheeses like gruyere that go great with a light red wine and blue or mature cheeses that produce a wonderful counterpoint with a sweet wine.

And if your finger foods are prepared with gourmet products, we have to define prefect harmonies. We cannot make mistakes. For example, if you serve a toast with caviar its natural pairing has to be Subercaseaux Grande Cuvée, a complex and fine sparkling wine. If you prefer mini crostini with foie gras, consider a classic pairing and serve it with Concha y Toro Late Harvest, while with elegant Serrano ham your guests will be happy with Marques de Casa Concha Pinot Noir.