5 Simple Appetizers for Sparkling Wines

So that they'll never see you sweat, try one of these quick pairings for those inevitable, last-minute holiday get-togethers.

Between cooking, cleaning, shopping, and hosting out-of-town guests, the holidays can be as stressful as they are fun, even for the most organized and prepared among us. To help you capitalize on the fun part, rely on one of these 5 simple appetizer and sparkling wine pairings.

'New World' Sparkling Wine & Fried Spring Rolls
The more fruit-driven sparkling wines from the New World (such as California, Australia, and New Zealand) are an ideal pairing with Asian cuisine. Additionally, the combination of riper fruit flavors, crisp acidity, and bubbles contrasts beautifully with the crunchy texture of fried foods. Combine the two – fried food and Asian cuisine – and we have a definite winner. Purchase frozen fried spring rolls from the freezer aisle at the grocery (or pick up egg rolls from your local Chinese restaurant), bake, and serve warm with sweet and spicy dipping sauce.

Cava & Smoked Salmon Mini Bagel Sandwiches
Always a great value, Cava is a crisp sparkling wine that gets its name from the Cava appellation in the Catalonia region of Spain where it is produced. Made from indigenous Spanish grape varieties in the same "traditional method" as Champagne, Cava pairs well with smoked salmon sandwiches. Make open-faced Smoked Salmon Mini Bagel Sandwiches by topping one side of a mini bagel with smoked salmon, dill cream cheese, red onions, and capers. The acidity of this Spanish sparkler acts as a squeeze of lemon for the salmon and counterbalances the saltiness of the capers and the richness of the cream cheese.

Prosecco & Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
Prosecco, an Italian sparkler made from grapes of the same name primarily in the Veneto region, is an ideal accompaniment to Roasted Tomato Bruschetta. The bright, tart flavor of the tomatoes is matched by the acidity of the wine and also allows for the soft fruity flavors of the Prosecco to come forward. Top a toasted baguette slice with store-bought bruschetta topping, sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, and garnish with fresh basil leaves for a simple yet satisfying pairing.

Rosé Sparkling Wine & Rare Roast Beef Mini Sandwiches
Full-bodied, rich, and flavorful rosé sparkling wines can be served with a wide range of foods that share similar characteristics. While rosé sparkling wine does not always work with red meat, it finds a good home with tender roast beef from the deli served on buttery rolls and a touch of horseradish cream sauce. When you want a little more flavor in your wine and a heartier food companion, this pairing does the trick.

Champagne & Brie Cheese Plate
You will pay a little more for true Champagne (made in the Champagne region of France), but it's always worth the splurge. For easy hors d'oeuvres, pick up a round of Brie, fresh strawberries, and a baguette from the grocery store. This quick pairing requires minimal work, but provides much enjoyment. The bubbles break down the richness of the gooey brie and the toasty character of the Champagne is enhanced by the fresh-from-the-oven baguette.

By: Brooke Smith

October 2009