The best way to be a good host for the holidays is to greet your guests with a smile, followed immediately by festive food and drink. Even if you have a sit-down dinner planned, we all have family members and friends who arrive on different schedules; some are early, and others, well, not so early. A small assortment of attractive and delicious hors d’oeuvres and a variety of wines to suit different palates and pair with your snacks is a great way to welcome people into your home and keep everybody happy before dinner. This easy-to-make trio of dishes and wines to match are also wonderful on their own for a cocktail-style party.
Villa Sandi Il Fresco Rosato Spumante: ($15) Nothing says “welcome” like a glass of bubbly, and this sparkling rosé from Italy is surefire crowd-pleaser. Fresh and fruity, it is perfect as an aperitif or with any of these fun nibbles.
Tyler Florence Sauvignon Blanc 2011: ($20) Sauvignon blanc, with its bright citrus flavors, is an ideal partner for seafood dishes. This one is brought to us by our friend Tyler Florence and the Michael Mondavi Family, and we love to serve it with oysters, shrimp or our scrumptious smoked salmon on bagel chips. Want to try your own recipe with Tyler’s Sauvignon Blanc? Enter to win the Tyler Florence Ultimate Food and Wine Experience. You can also buy wine directly on his site, with just a $5 charge for shipping.
Smoked salmon on bagel chips
This miniature version of lox and bagels is easy to make and a delight for the taste buds.
- 48 pieces bagel chips (small pieces)
- ½ pound smoked salmon, sliced thin
- ½ cup sour cream
- 4 sprigs dill fronds, finely chopped
- 4 sprigs dill, for garnish
Combine sour cream and chopped dill fronds in a small bowl. Arrange bagel chips on a serving platter, and place a dollop of sour cream and dill mixture on each. Cut salmon into 48 bite-size pieces, and place on top of each bagel chip. Tear dill fronds into small pieces, and garnish salmon-topped bagel chips. Serve.
Estancia Monterey County Pinnacles Ranches Pinot Noir 2011: ($15) This rich red wine from California works with many different foods, from seafood to red meat. With flavors of bright fruit and light spice, it holds up to the varied tastes on our cheerful and attractive charcuterie and cheese platter.
Charcuterie and cheese platter
Anybody can open up packages of cold cuts and lay them on a plate. But let’s face it—you’re not just anybody. All your friends know that you know how to throw a party, and this inviting array of meats and cheese won’t disappoint.
- ½ pound Genoa salami, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces Mascarpone cheese
- 3 ounces Pecorino cheese, grated
- ½ pound imported Prosciutto, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 24 thin grissini breadsticks
- ½ pound French bistro ham, thinly sliced
- ½ pound aged Gouda cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
- ½ pound wheel of Camembert
- ½ pound Gruyere cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 French baguette, sliced thin
- 1 box assorted Carr’s crackers
Prepare salami cornets: Stir grated Pecorino cheese into Mascarpone until well combined. Using a teaspoon, place a small amount of cheese mixture in the center of a Genoa salami slice. Roll into a miniature cone. Repeat with remaining cheese mixture and salami.
Prepare grissini: Carefully spread a small amount of softened butter onto the end of each breadstick. Roll one slice of prosciutto around the top half of each breadstick, stick the end down with a small bit of softened butter. Place grissini upright in a short vase or a few tumblers.
Cut French bistro ham in half lengthwise. Roll each strip.
To serve: Arrange French bistro ham rolls, salami cornets, tumblers of grissini, and cheese on a wooden cutting board or serving platter. Serve with sliced bread and crackers.
Robert Mondavi Private Selection Meritage 2010: ($11) This juicy red blend of Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec from California gives you a lot of bang for the buck! A big red is our go-to for slightly sweet or spicy dishes, and we especially love this alongside our holiday favorite, boozy dogs.
This is our version of a classic and fun holiday dish. They go fast, so if you’re expecting a crowd, double up!
- 1 cup Michter’s US 1 Small Batch Bourbon
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
- 1 package (12 ounces) Boar’s Head Beef Cocktail Frankfurters
Add bourbon and brown sugar to heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in tomato paste, cover, and bring to boil over medium flame. Cut cocktail frankfurters into individual links, add to saucepan, and turn flame to low. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve.
Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen are the authors of “Wines of the Southern Hemisphere: The Complete Guide and The Fire Island Cookbook.” They are also the entertaining and lifestyle editors at Wine Enthusiast.
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