19 Cold Appetizers For Wine Tasting

cold appetizers for wine tasting

What Appetizers Pair Well with Wine?

The best cold appetizers for wine tasting will deliver fat, protein, and/or salt. Fat softens wine’s acid and salt will make your wine seem fruitier. The protein binds with tannins in red wine, making it smoother and cleansing your palate. This is why cold cuts, olive oil, and cheeses make good wine partners.

Helpful Tip: Here’s an easy overview of how wine and food pairing interact. A must-read if you’re just getting started. Head over to this post for more general wine tasting food ideas if you’re looking for inspiration.

What Appetizers Don’t Work Well With Wine?

Be careful with foods that have a sweetness to them. What seems like a good pairing idea (apples, strawberries, or even grapes, for example) can make your dry wine seem tannic and thin.

Helpful Tip: Check out this list of super easy appetizers for wine tasting (warm and cold).

If you’re enjoying a sweet or off-dry wine, like an off-dry Riesling or a Moscato d’Asti or fruity Chenin Blanc, then, by all means, bring out your fruit platter and enjoy

Best Cold Appetizers for Wine Tasting List

Check out this list of 19 cold appetizers for wine tasting. I’ve included a note on whether they are best for reds, whites, or both. You’ll find some are easier to prepare than others, so hopefully you’ll find an appetizer that works for you.

Drumroll, please…

Helpful Tip: Check out this post for ultimate list of finger foods for wine tasting (for red and white wines).

1. Crudité Platter

crudite platter cold appetizer for wine tasting

A crudité platter is a plate of raw vegetables (sliced or whole), arranged artfully (or not) on a plate or board. You’ll typically include a sauce of some sort for dipping – this could be a hummus, a yogurt dip, or just some sort of salad dressing.

Stick with vegetables that are fresh and in season.

Think about the flavor profile of the veggies you’re serving with your wine. Carrots and celery have an earthy quality to them. Bell peppers and cherry tomatoes have a sweetness to them, as well as acid that will lift up your white wines.

  • Best For: Reds and Whites
  • Examples: Whites will tend to pair better with sweeter, acidic vegetables. Reds will go well with earthy vegetables (this is a generality – so, by all means, explore and experiment!)

2. Cheese Board

cheese board - cold appetizer for wine tasting

There’s a reason cheese works well with wine. Cheese has salt, protein, and fat. All three qualities help to lift up your wine’s body and fruitiness, mellowing out any tannins or alcohol.

And cheese is a fermented food, just like wine!

Bring together a variety of cheese to experiment with flavor combinations. Cheddar, Gruyere, Manchego (my personal favorite), or even fresh parmesan.

Pro Tip: Be careful with pepper jack and other spicy cheeses. Chili pepper can enhance the alcohol burn and tannin in wine.

Different styles bring unique qualities to the table, so feel free to experiment.

  • Best For: Reds and Whites
  • Examples: All wines

3. Hummus and Pita Chips

a bowl of hummus with a garnish on top

Hummus and pita chips are always a winning combination for your cold wine appetizer list. Hummus delivers a nutty, creamy quality. Drizzle it in olive oil for added fat that will smooth out the acid in your wine and make it taste fruitier.

Hummus can hold up to heavier, fuller-bodied wines, so experiment and go big!

4. Bruschetta

bruscetta - cold wine appetizers

A classic cold Italian appetizer, bruschetta brings together bread, olive oil, and fresh tomatoes for a true Mediterranean treat. If you’re fortunate to be reading this when tomatoes are in season, then bruschetta is a fabulous choice as a go-to cold wine appetizer.

What I like about bruschetta is that it’s more filling than some of the other options on this list, perfect if you’re not having a full meal, just wine and finger foods.

  • Best For: Reds
  • Examples: Chianti, Lambrusco, Zinfandel (Primitivo), Merlot

5. Caprese Skewers

caprese skewer - cold appetizer for wine tasting

Caprese skewers are a quick and easy party appetizer that works for your wine event. Cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, fresh mozzarella balls, and a balsamic reduction glaze bring together acid, fat, and layers of earthy flavors. You can pair this with a white wine, for example, a Pinot Grigio or an Albarino, but caprese tends to be more powerful and will stand up to your red wines.

Like the bruschetta, think Italian!

  • Best For: Reds
  • Examples: Chianti, Lambrusco, Zinfandel (Primitivo), Merlot

6. Deviled Eggs

cold wine appetizers - deviled eggs

Deviled eggs make a great cold appetizer for wine tasting thanks to the eggs’ protein. If you mix in mayonnaise, just be forewarned that this can cause some pairing clashes. Stick to lighter, fruitier wines with your deviled egg appetizer.

  • Best For: Fruity Reds, Light Whites
  • Examples: Pinot Noir, Gamay (Beaujolais), Lambrusco, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato d’Asti, Riesling

7. Pickled Vegetables

cold appetizer for wine tasting - pickles

Pickled cucumbers, radishes, carrots, and even cauliflower or cabbage can make an excellent last-minute cold appetizer for your wine tasting. The acid from the vinegar in pickled vegetables pairs well with higher acid white wines.

Mix things up with sweet, sour, and spicy for some fun experimentation!

What I love about pickled vegetables is that they are shelf stable and easy to keep on hand in your pantry for last-minute gatherings.

Helpful Tip: Remember…sweet pickles will pair better with off-dry wines. Spicy pickled vegetables can enhance astringent tannins and alcohol burn in your wine.

  • Best For: Fruity Whites
  • Examples: Vouvray, Chenin Blanc, Moscato d’Asti, off-dry Riesling, Torrontes, Sauvignon Blanc

8. Shrimp Cocktail

shrimp-cocktail-cold-appetizers-for-white-wine

Shrimp cocktail makes for a fabulous cold appetizer that you can make ahead and have ready to serve. Acid from the tomato dipping sauce enhance the wine’s fruitiness. If your cocktail sauce has a little kick to it, stick with lighter red and white wines.

  • Best For: Light Bodied Reds & Aromatic, Light Whites
  • Examples: Rose wines, Light Bodied Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino, Torrontes, Pinot Grigio, Riesling

9. Smoked Salmon on Cucumber Slices

cold appetizers for wine tasting - salmon and cucumber

Smoked salmon has a strong smokey flavor, and you’ll want to let it shine with your wine pairing. The protein-rich, fatty texture marries beautifully with crunchy, fresh cucumber slices.

  • Best With: White Wines
  • Examples: Albarino, White Rioja, Pinot Grigio, Full-bodied Chardonnay, Sparkling Wine

10. Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

cold appetizer with wine tasting - stuffed cherry tomatoes

Scoop out the insides of a handful of cherry tomatoes, then add a dollop of smooth cream cheese mixed with fragrant dill and chopped cucumbers. Boom! A tasty, bite-sized treat for your chilled appetizer. Tang. Fat. Cream. And earthy goodness.

  • Best With: Rose, Light Bodied Reds, and Whites
  • Examples: Tavel, Inexpensive Chianti, Gamay, Light Styles of Grenache, Pinot Noir, Unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Vermentino, Soave

11. Melon and Prosciutto Skewers

cold appetizers for wine tasting - melon

This classic summer treat brings together juicy fresh melon slices with the rich, salty qualities of thin-sliced prosciutto. Make sure you’re using a ripe melon for full effect.

On a personal note, I usually use honeydew melon, but cantaloupe and yellow melon work, too.

  • Best With: Whites, Off-dry Whites
  • Examples: Moscato d’Asti, Vouvray, Off-dry Chenin Blanc, White Vin Doux Naturel, Demi Sec or Doux Sparkling Wines

12. Tzatziki and Pita Chips

cold appetizers for wine tasting - tzatziki

Tzatziki is a classic Mediterranean yogurt dip with layers of flavor thanks to cucumber, garlic, dill, salt, olive oil, and lemon juice. Refreshing, light, and oh-so-delicious, tzatziki makes a great wine appetizer.

Add some pita chips (or simply crackers) and you’re all set.

  • Best With: Rose, White, and Sparkling Wines
  • Examples: Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Vinho Verde, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Vermentino, Cava, Prosecco

13. Salted Nuts

cold appetizer for wine tasting - salted nuts

Every wine goes well with nuts. They have protein, fat, and salt. The perfect trio to balance tannins, enhance fruit qualities, and cleanse the palate while you’re sipping.

Added bonus: nuts are shelf-stable.

  • Best With: Any Wine
  • Examples: Honest – salted nuts work with all wines. Go get some nuts.

If you’re looking to elevate your nut experience, try toasting them right before serving or serving herb or truffle-infused nuts. Here’s a personal favorite:

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14. Spring Rolls

spring rolls - cold appetizers for wine tasting

A combination of crunchy lettuce, mint, cucumber, carrot, rice noodles, and your choice of protein – tofu or shrimp – along with a rich peanut sauce make spring rolls a great cold appetizer for wine tasting.

Spring rolls can be smaller or more substantive depending on what you’re looking for and offer the perfect make-ahead appetizer.

  • Best With: White Wines
  • Examples: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc, Albarino, Soave, Vermentino, Riesling, White Rioja

15. Tortilla Pinwheels

tortilla pinwheels - cold wine appetizers ideas

Quick and easy, tortilla pinwheels are a more substantive appetizer. You can make them vegetarian or vegan, or add cream cheese and slices of deli meats. Crunchy fresh vegetables will lift up your wines.

The combination of vegetables and tortillas makes this a neutral appetizer that can work with any wine.

  • Wines: Any
  • Examples: Sherry, Sparkling, Rose, Reds, Whites

16. Artichoke Dip

cold appetizers for wine ideas - artichoke dip

With its sour cream or yogurt base, artichoke dip makes an excellent cold appetizer for white wines and lighter reds. Artichoke dip is easy to make ahead of time or pick up at your local grocer.

With artichoke’s long history in the Mediterranean, you know artichoke dip will pair well with wine.

  • Best With: White Wines, Rose, Lighter Reds
  • Examples: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Vinho Verde, Torrontes, Muscadet, Pinot Noir, Gamay (Beaujolais Nouveau), Schiava, Sparkling Rose

17. Ceviche

cold appetizers for wine - ceviche

Ceviche intertwines brine, acid, and spice from onion. An earthy element from cilantro or parsley brings this dish together.

Add a slice of fresh lemon for your guests to squeeze on top and they’re in for a mouth-watering treat.

  • Best For: White Wines, Sparkling Wines, Rose
  • Examples: Unoaked Chardonnay, Albarino, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Vinho Verde, Muscadet, Torrontes, Cava, Prosecco

18. Oysters on the Half Shell

oysters - cold appetizer for wine

Oysters have a briny quality that works well with wines. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a place where you can easily pick up oysters (or cater oysters), then this makes for a decadent cold appetizer to pair with your wine tasting.

  • Best For: White Wines, Sparkling Wines
  • Examples: Picpoul, Vinho Verde, Albarino, Muscadet, Vermentino (Rolle), Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Cava, Prosecco, Champagne

19. Baguettes and Olive Oil

baguettes-cold wine appetizers

A classic, timeless wine pairing: baguettes dredged in olive oil with freshly crushed black pepper and parmesan. This simple, yet satisfying, pairing will keep you filled up while you finish a glass (or two) of wine.

  • Best With: Any
  • Examples: Dealer’s Choice – you can’t go wrong with a fresh baguette and dish of virgin olive oil

Final Thoughts – Fat, Salt, and Protein

Appetizers are a wonderful way to learn more about wine pairing and flavor combinations. As you plan your cold appetizer menu for your upcoming wine event, keep in mind how the food’s flavors will interact with your wine selections.

  • Stick with a sampling of cold appetizers that have fat, salt, and protein and you’ll be all set.
  • Remember to be mindful of sweet foods that can make your wine seem thin and acidic.

To wine and food! Have fun~

Thirsty for More?

Thinking of including red wines? Check out this post on cold appetizers that will work for your next red wine tasting.

If you already know what wines you’ll be serving, check out this post on what to serve at a red wine tasting, and here’s the sister post: what to serve with a white wine tasting.

Are you a Chardonnay fan? Here are my top 5 everyday Chardonnay pairings for everyday people. Go ahead, bring a little decadence to your Wednesday.

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