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Thanksgiving Appetizers and Wine Pairings

Appetizers are the secret to any well-organized meal, and Thanksgiving is no different.

Naturally, we tend to focus on the size of the turkey, the mashing of the potatoes and the mixing of the canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup and those little fried onion things.

This year, though, as you research the difference between cranberry jelly and cranberry sauce, remember that your friends and family will need some snacks while the big meal is cooking and the parades are on TV. And what about the wine? So much time is spent on the right food recipes, it sometimes feels like we overlook one of the key ingredients of a proper celebration; the wine.

To help ease that pre-meal holiday stress, let’s focus on crowd-pleasing appetizers and the wines to accompany. So, if you’re looking to shake things up around your own kitchen or if you’ve been invited to a Thanksgiving feast and been told to bring an appetizer, here are a few not-so-ordinary Thanksgiving-inspired finger foods and wine pairing suggestions that will make everyone else really thankful that you are part of their lives.

Cinnamon Sugar Candied Nuts

Recipe-  Perfect for just noshing, these nuts are one of the easiest things to make and are totally addictive. The sweetness of the nuts can easily overpower a wine, so go oft-dry and choose a Riesling from the Alsace region in France. From just over the German border, Hugel 2010 Riesling ($22) is clean and dry with stony mineral and citrus flavors that will complement the nuts instead of trying to keep up with them.

Herb and Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Recipe – Mixing the earthy nature of the mushrooms with the creaminess of the goat cheese makes for a fantastic combination that pairs perfectly with a rich California Chardonnay. La Crema 2010 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($22) is well-rounded with ripe pear, caramel and vanilla flavors, complementing the lemon in the goat cheese, which is light on the herb side as to not overpower the thyme in the recipe.

Maple Pecan Baked Brie

Recipe – The perfect mix of sweet and savory, and with a good amount of cracked black pepper, this dish screams for a lightly oaked, dry and complex wine. Signorello Seta ($45) from Napa Valley is barrel-fermented, smooth and low in acidity and has the aromas and flavors of cashew, citrus, and apricot, and vanilla notes from the French oak.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

Recipe – Everyone loves sweet potatoes, but these twice-baked beauties take the cake. Add a little bacon to them, too, and you won’t want to stop eating them. Pair them with a Merlot from Bordeaux. Château Laforge Saint-Emilion ($27) is dense and velvety in texture with ripe cherry and blackberry flavors, a hint of coffee, smoke and the traditional French new wood taste make this a perfect companion to the sweet potatoes.

Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Dip

Recipe – This recipe is an interesting twist on what has become a holiday classic dip. Adding the roasted garlic delivers a sweet and smokey punch to this dip and screams for the acidity of a Marlborough, New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc.Whitehaven 2011 Sauvignon Blanc($20) is classic. Full and vibrant with those unmistakable grapefruit and tropical fruit flavors that linger for a long time but finish cleanly and crisply.




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