Sparkling Wines and Appetizers on our Culinary Tours

It’s often said that when in doubt about wine pairing, try a sparkling wine. They are more versatile than one might think, not at all just for toasting a special event. But while they might adapt themselves to a lot of courses, it’s true that they are exceptional aperitifs. And what goes better with an aperitif than some hors d’oeuvres?

Pouring a sparkler on the Amalfi Coast The Venetians have this down to a science. There you can drink glass after glass of prosecco alongside plate after plate of “cicchetti,” what can be described as a Venetian sort of tapas. Cichetti bars can be found on practically every block, and are full of locals and tourists consuming these small plates while standing up. You should definitely experience this yourself on a Venice cooking vacation or culinary tour. And you can easily replicate it with friends at home with some wonderful sparkling wines and a few good appetizers. Here are some suggestions!

Learn more about appetizers, including hors d’oeuvres and cichetti!

Let’s start with the Veneto! Serve the classic Venetian sparkler with a bowl of olives, crostini, or some typical Venetian sarde in saor.

A board of Italian cold cuts Franciacorta
Let’s head west a bit to Lombardy’s famed Franciacorta region to taste some of its award winning sparklers, and pair them with cold cuts such as prosciutto or culatello, or a fine plate of northern Italian cheeses (we might suggest a Gorgonzola, a Taleggio, and a Grana Padano).

Learn about wine toasting in Italy.

Cremant d’Alsace
Less known than it’s more famous cousin Champagne, we’re big fans of this wonderful sparkler (we’re fans of Alsatian wines in general!). It also tends to be less expensive than Champagne, which doesn’t hurt! Try it with raw oysters, fried calamari, or a delectable cheese soufflé.

Learn about the most famous bubbly: champagne!

Calamari fritti Cava
Cava has come on strong in the world of sparklers and nothing pairs better with Spanish tapas. Try it with some Spanish cured meats (jamon!), olives, or tortilla, or with any of the many “pintxos” (Basque-style tapas) you can learn to create on our cooking vacation in Spain’s Basque country.

That’s just a small list to get you started. What are your favorites wines for serving with appetizers? What are your favorite appetizers for serving with an aperitif? Add to the list, we’d love to hear your pairings!

Raw oyster By Peg Kern

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