If a winery lets you bring in food from the outside, winery snacks can elevate a tasting to the next level. Here are some of the best winery snacks to consider.
Appetizers and Snacks
Here are some popular snacks to pair with wine. You may need to experiment to find the best combinations, but that’s part of the fun.
Bread can be a complicated wine snack since there are so many options.
A good rule of thumb is that lighter bread goes well with more delicate wines, but avoid pairing bread with acidic wines.
Good pairs include brioche with sweeter drinks like champagne, while wheat bread generally works with Pinot Noir.
Garlic bread usually pairs well with any wine you’d drink with spaghetti (or, for that matter, most Italian dishes).
If your bread has fruit or nuts, try pairing it with a riesling.
Like bread, finding the right cracker to pair with wine may take a little experimentation.
Buttery crackers tend to go well with light and sparkling wines, while whole-grain crackers match a medium-body drink.
Most crackers will do well with a full-bodied red wine, although rye crackers tend to stand out thanks to their bolder flavors.
If you’re planning to try a dessert wine, bring an unsalted cracker so its flavor won’t interfere with its sweetness.
Pretzels tend to pair well with sparkling wines, including white and red options.
Specifically, we’re referring to large, soft pretzels here, not small, crispy ones.
Well-chilled bottles tend to work with the saltiness of pretzels.
If your pretzel has extra flavor, like parmesan and garlic, pair it with wine matching those flavors.
Cheese is perhaps the ultimate winery snack.
Many wines have specific cheese pairings, and there are so many we can’t go into all of them here. As a general principle, stinkier cheeses pair well with sweeter wines.
The ideal pairing of cheese and wine avoids overpowering either flavor and often with opposite flavors that help balance each other out.
The easiest option is probably asking the winery what cheeses they recommend alongside specific drinks. They may even have the cheese on-site.
Almonds are a good choice for most sparkling wines. These are dense nuts, so they balance out the bubbly aspects.
Cashews have a rich flavor, which pairs well with lighter drinks like Sauvignon Blanc.
Hazelnuts are particularly good with Chardonnay, to the point that some winemakers are diving into deeper tests for matching these flavors.
Hazelnut flavors are popular in Oregon but not as common in other areas.
Pecans are a direct match for Pinot Noir, with a more delicate flavor that keeps things balanced out. Finally, almost any toasted nut will do well with a bolder red wine.
Like cheese, there tend to be specific combinations of fruit and wine that go well together. Consider asking your winery for specific pairings they advise.
Otherwise, kiwi goes well with most dessert wines and fruity reds.
Apple pairs with a surprisingly large selection, including Bardolino, Bourgueil, Cabernet, and Rioja. Pears will work in most places that apples do.
If you want to be a little cheeky, you can pair seedless grapes with Champagne or Merlot. Sour green grapes match light wines.
The way you prepare the plate matters when pairing fruits and wine.
The best options tend to be fresh, ripe fruit or slices of dried fruit. Remember that dried fruits tend to be sweeter than fresh ones, affecting the wines they pair with.
Lighter vegetables, including green beans and celery, match sparkling wines and un-oaked white options.
Like lentils and sweet potatoes, savory vegetables go better with richer whites and lighter reds.
White wines tend to be the best choice if you have raw vegetables.
Cooking vegetables tends to caramelize them and make them sweeter, at which point they might work with an aggressive red.
Pate tends to be fatty, with bold and robust flavors that don’t pair with subtler wines.
Match this with acidic wines, including Rose or juicier reds. Berry flavors tend to go well here. Get the wine chilled rather than at room temperature for the best flavors.
Olives are another classic pairing for wine, which is no surprise given the Italian influences in many areas.
They go particularly well if you’re having a Sauvignon Blanc, almost any Rose, or Chardonnay.
Go for milder olives if you’re pairing them with the latter option there.
Sandwiches for Wine Tasting
Sandwiches come in various flavors and textures. Like cheese, the best sandwich options tend to be specific pairings for a drink.
Consider pouring a little wine into your sandwich’s bread for an alternate option.
People already do this with vinegar and other liquids to change the flavor, and essentially infusing the bread with your wine’s flavor can create an entirely different experience.
In all cases, be careful with the toppings you put on sandwiches.
Bolder flavors you might want to add, like mustard, can significantly reduce the ability to enjoy a wine flavor.
Milder or vegetable flavors, like grilled onions, may enhance the wine’s taste.
Try to avoid the most robust flavors when pairing a sandwich with wine as a good rule of thumb.
Most people don’t think about having wine and cheeseburgers together, but a simple table red wine with a burger is an affordable and straightforward option.
Grilled cheese sandwiches tend to be a little oily and buttery, with a deeper wheat flavor on the outside of the sandwich where your tongue first hits it. This pairs well with most Chardonnay.
A traditional club sandwich has some mix of chicken and bacon, usually with tomato, lettuce, and mayo. Unusually, they also have three slices of bread. Almost any white or red wine will work here.
Peanut Butter and Jelly
This sandwich is kind of an insult to wine, mainly because jelly tends to be so sweet that it can drown out any flavor from the wine.
However, if you don’t mind mixing formal with informal, try this sandwich with a Sparkling Rose.
The Cube Rule states that hot dogs are technically a taco, but if the bread separates (and usually does), it becomes a sandwich, and it’s fair game for this section.
Hot dogs work well with a blended, sweet white wine like the Family Ranch Heritage.
Healthy Snacks With Wine
Many winery snacks are healthy, especially if you’re eating them as part of a well-balanced diet. However, some stand out particularly well.
Many berries pair well with wine, especially when they’re fresh.
These are so good that they’re often the main flavor in a wine, and berries usually go well with each other.
Consider getting fresh strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries and pairing them with any berry-flavored wine. For added fun, drop the berries into your drink.
Hummus is an impressively healthy spread. It’s a little hard to use as a snack, but you can easily spread it on crackers or, occasionally, pretzels.
It tends to pair well with bolder red wines and vegetable snacks.
Although not healthy in large quantities, a small amount of dark chocolate is an excellent pair for most bolder red wines.
In this context, dark chocolate means anything 70% or more.
Both dark chocolate and red wine have a lot of antioxidants, so pairing them together gives you an exceptionally powerful boost. Avoid saltier chocolate, though.
Air-popped popcorn has practically no oil or fat, making it an impressively low-calorie snack to pair with wine. The milder flavors of plain popcorn match light white wines and most fruity wines.
If you want to add salt to popcorn, pair it with a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, which balances the flavors.
Chardonnay also works well with any type of buttered popcorn, which remains a typical flavor.
If you prefer cheese popcorn, try a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Full-bodied flavors tend to work better if you want to enjoy the cheese.
Soft-boiled eggs are a delicious way to get your protein in. They match both bubbly and dry white wines, and you can enjoy them at any time of the day.
Baked Sweet Potato Chips
The preparation method is essential here. Rather than frying them, baking sweet potatoes removes much of the fat and makes them significantly healthier. Most sweet potato chips have a savory, moderately bold flavor, so they go well with red wines.
Scallops are sweet, buttery shellfish that do exceptionally well as an appetizer.
You can pair them with a Sauvignon Blanc for the best flavor or mix them into an arugula salad.
However, they are best fresh, so you may need to get creative when using them as winery snacks.
You can bring plenty of snacks to wineries that allow them, from simple and popular options to far more unusual treats. In the end, though, the flavor is subjective.
The guidelines above are just the starting point, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find the flavors that work best for you.