The best snacks to pair with wine – from bruschetta with chianti to endive with viognier

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Outdoor socialising is soon set to make a return to our lives, so prepare for your post-lockdown reunions with these delicious wine-and-snack pairings.

After passing the one-year anniversary of the first Covid-19 UK lockdown, a glimmer of post-pandemic freedom is on the horizon: from 29 March, a maximum of six people from multiple households can get together outside, including in private gardens. We can picture it now: warm spring sunshine, a glass of wine in hand, and the chatter of our closest friends drifting on the air.

There’s one thing missing, of course, from this lovely post-lockdown vision, and that is food. Snacks, specifically, because we all know that our guests will be hungry for something to nibble on while the drinks and conversation are flowing. And, after a year of low-key Friday nights in our pyjamas, it’s safe to say we’re keen to create something a little fancier than shop-bought dips and breadsticks.

Wine Time by Barbara Scott-Goodman
Wine Time by Barbara Scott-Goodman is out now with Chronicle

Happily, Barbara Scott-Goodman has plenty of ideas in her new cookbook, Wine Time: 70+ Recipes For Simple Bites That Pair Perfectly With Wine. A collection of recipes and ideas for all kinds of get-togethers, you’ll find everything from bite-size snacks to platters of cheese and charcuterie that will complement all wines extremely well – no precise pairings necessary. 

Below, Scott-Goodman shares four excellent appetisers sure to cater to everyone’s taste buds. First up, parmesan roasted chickpeas. Flavoured with spice and cooked until crispy, this moreish snack will keep everyone satisfied while you’re sorting drinks.

With a mixture of creamy cheese, walnuts, and fresh herbs, the goat cheese-stuffed endives are a zesty finger food that can be swapped with any of your favourite fillings. Scott-Goodman’s ricotta, prosciutto and olive bruschetta, meanwhile, gives the classic appetiser an inspired twist, and can easily be made vegetarian.

Lastly, when the evening is wearing on, the hearty pork and ricotta meatballs are a comfort food staple that will guarantee warm, happy bellies. Come the end of the night, there’ll be clean plates all round…

  • If you're drinking chardonnay or viognier, eat goat cheese-stuffed endive

    Goat cheese endive recipe
    What to eat with chardonnay or viognier: goat cheese-stuffed endive

    Barbara says: “Crisp endive leaves filled with a mixture of creamy goat cheese, walnuts, and fresh herbs are a perfect finger food to serve at all types of parties. This is a basic recipe, but if you like, you can sub in a variety of sweet and savoury ingredients for different fillings and garnishes. 

    “Look for red Belgian endive leaves to add even more colour to the platter. Full-bodied whites like chardonnay or viognier go well with these.”

    Serves 6-8

    Ingredients

    • 115g goat cheese, at room temperature
    • 55g cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 60g walnuts, coarsely chopped
    • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp minced fresh chives, plus more for garnish
    • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 20-24 green and/or red Belgian endive or chicory leaves (2 or 3 heads)

    Method

    Place the goat cheese, cream cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, chives, and parsley in a food processor, season with salt and pepper, and blend until very smooth. Transfer to a small bowl (see make ahead).

    Spoon the mixture evenly into the endive leaves, garnish with chives (or other toppings and garnishes of your choice), and serve.

    Make ahead

    The goat cheese mixture will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.

  • If you're drinking merlot or chardonnay, eat parmesan roasted chickpeas

    Parmesan roasted chickpeas recipe
    What to eat with merlot or chardonnay: parmesan roasted chickpeas

    Barbara says: “It’s amazing how handy a few cans of chickpeas in the pantry can be. You can use them to make hummus or top salads, rice, and grains; plus, these versatile legumes make a great savoury snack when roasted with olive oil, garlic, and a coating of parmesan cheese. They pair well with a red merlot or a white chardonnay.”

    Serves 8-10

    Ingredients

    • 445g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    • 15g freshly grated parmesan cheese
    • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tsp minced garlic
    • ½ tsp paprika
    • pinch of cayenne pepper
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Arrange the chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and let them dry for about 30 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

    Preheat the oven to 200°C.

    In a medium bowl, stir together the parmesan, 1½ tablespoons of the oil, the garlic, paprika, and cayenne until well mixed. Pour over the chickpeas and toss well to coat.

    Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the remaining 1½ tablespoons of oil, and season with salt and pepper. 

    Bake for 20 minutes, stir, and continue to bake until the chickpeas are crisp and golden, about 5 minutes more.

    Remove from the oven and transfer to paper towels to drain. Let cool completely. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, and serve.

    Make ahead

    The chickpeas can be made up to 4 hours in advance and can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

  • If you're drinking pinot grigio or chianti, eat ricotta, prosciutto and olive bruschetta

    ricotta, prosciutto and olive bruschetta recipe
    What to eat with pinot grigio or chianti: ricotta, prosciutto and olive bruschetta

    Barbara says: “Here’s a great way to serve bruschetta: top grilled bread with creamy ricotta cheese, a chunky mixture of black and green olives, capers, and lemon zest and a slice of prosciutto. 

    “If you prefer to make it vegetarian, simply omit the prosciutto. An Italian white, such as pinot grigio, or a red chianti will complement the toasts beautifully.”

    Serves 6-8

    Ingredients

    • 100g mixed olives, pitted and chopped
    • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp drained capers
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • pinch of red pepper flakes
    • 12 slices grilled bread (see note)
    • 360g fresh ricotta cheese
    • 115g prosciutto, thinly sliced lengthwise

    Method

    In a medium bowl, combine the olives, olive oil, capers, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes and toss to mix well.

    Spread each bread slice with some of the ricotta cheese, top with a spoonful of the olive mixture and a slice of prosciutto, and serve at once.

    Make ahead

    The grilled bread can be prepared about 1 hour ahead of time.

    Note

    For perfect grilled bread, prepare a medium-hot fire for direct grilling in a charcoal barbecue or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. 

    Cut bread into ½ inch slices or rounds and brush each side with olive oil. Arrange them in a single layer on the grill rack and grill, turning once, until they are golden brown, crispy, and slightly charred around the edges, 2-3 minutes per side. 

    Transfer the bread to a platter and rub one side of each slice with the cut side of half of a garlic clove, if desired.

  • If you're drinking chianti or zinfandel, eat pork and ricotta meatballs

    pork and ricotta meatballs recipe
    What to eat with chianti or zinfandel: pork and ricotta meatballs

    Barbara says: “Meatballs are always very popular at gatherings and it seems like nobody can eat just one. Ricotta cheese is the key ingredient in this recipe because it makes the meatballs quite tender. They’re very good to serve with marinara [sauce] for dipping, or as sliders (see note). Chianti classico and full-bodied zinfandel always complement red meat, and either one would be a good choice to serve here.”

    Serves 8-10

    Ingredients

    • 20g panko
    • 60ml whole milk
    • 455g minced pork
    • 115g whole-milk ricotta cheese
    • 8g freshly grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
    • 1 tsp fines herbes or herbes de Provençe
    • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
    • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
    • chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
    • marinara, for serving (optional)

    For the marinara (makes about 790g):

    • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 794g can organic peeled and crushed tomatoes
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • pinch of red pepper flakes
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 10g chopped fresh basil

    Method

    In a large mixing bowl, mix together the panko and the milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the pork, cheeses, egg, herbs, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and work the mixture together with your hands until it is well incorporated.

    Form the mixture into 30 balls that are 2.5cm in diameter and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, up to 2 hours or overnight.

    For the marinara, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sugar, and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper.

    Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil and stir. Cook for 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. 

    Position an oven rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 220°C.

    Brush the meatballs with olive oil and bake until golden and cooked through, turning once halfway through baking, about 12 minutes total. Transfer to a platter, garnish with parsley, and serve with warm marinara sauce (if desired).

    Note

    For delicious mini-meatball sandwiches or sliders, heat the meatballs in a large saucepan over medium heat with enough tomato sauce to cover. 

    Once warm, spoon the meatballs into mini hamburger or slider rolls. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese, garnish with parsley, and serve.

    Make ahead

    The meatballs can be prepared and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead of time. They can also be baked and then stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw and bake them for about 25 minutes in a 220°C oven.

    The sauce will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week and in the freezer up to 1 month.

    Edited extract from Wine Time: 70+ Recipes For Simple Bites That Pair Perfectly With Wine by Barbara Scott-Goodman (£17.99, Chronicle), out now

Photography: © 2021 Jennifer May

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.