Wine Press: 5 classic ‘starter wines’ to serve before a meal – MassLive.com
Since this year only recently started, I thought now might be a great time to talk about starter wines.
These are the wines people normally serve before a meal. Think of these wines like the snacks that hosts often put out for guests when they first arrive – a bowl of nuts or a cheese plate of wines.
The snacks you’re serving can also an important consideration on what starter wine you open. But, in general, you can’t go wrong with these five, classic pre-meal wines no matter what snacks you set out before a meal.
The one exception might be fresh oysters. In this particular case, I strongly recommend serving Champagne or another sparkling wine. And please send me an invitation. I like your style.
And one more thing. If you’re worried about serving too much wine before and during the meal, fear not. No one says you have to finish your pre-meal wine. You can put the rest away for the next day or the day after.
Another option is serving a half bottle of wine before dinner, especially when it comes to sparkling wine. These wines often lose their tiny bubbles after only a few hours.
Let me add that a half bottle of sparkling wine is perfect for two to four people. If you’re inviting more people, simply get a full, standard bottle (750 milliliters) of sparkling wine or any of the other wines listed below. Trust me. Your guests will thank you.
Hope you enjoy.
Champagne or sparkling wine:
When in doubt, you can never go wrong with sparkling wine, especially Champagne from France, Cava from Spain and Prosecco from Italy. It tastes great with everything, from oysters to cheese, smoked salmon to sliced meats and chocolate. Sparkling wine always puts people in a great mood. And, again, if you’re worried about serving too much wine, simply buy a half bottle chilled to about 40 degrees;
This dry white wine is another versatile workhorse. I especially love sauvignon blancs from New Zealand as a starter wine. They have a beautiful, light grassy flavor and aroma. They taste particularly good slightly chilled (about 50 degrees) with oysters, soft cheeses and anything with sea salt. Best of all, you can find many great ones for around $10 a bottle, including Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc;
Another versatile dry wine, rose wines from France’s Provence region are not just perfect for summer. There’s a reason why these wines have become popular throughout the year. They’re flavorful, fragrant and look like a pale pink summer sunset in a glass. There are many great ones for about $15 a bottle, and they taste especially good with olives, dried meats and hard cheeses;
Beaujolais red wine:
If you want to serve a red wine soon after you friends arrive, make it a light one. Some of the best light red wines can be found in France’s Beaujolais region. Most red wines from Beaujolais are made with gamay grapes. While Beaujolais nouveau might be the best known red wine, it’s not the only one from here. There are many other great light red wines from Beaujolais, including Beaujolais Cru wines, which are aged longer and come from specific villages in Beaujolais; and
You might not have heard of Fino sherry. It’s the lightest, driest type of sherry, which is fortified wine, meaning that distilled alcohol (in this case brandy) is added to the wine. All Fino Sherry comes from Spain. They’re especially light, should be served slightly chilled and soon after opening the bottle. Fino sherries can lose their flavor fast because they’re a relatively young wine. So shake things up at your next dinner party and serve one of these classic delightful wines before dinner.
Wine Press by Ken Ross appears on Masslive every Monday and in The Republican’s Weekend section every Thursday. Older “Wine Press” articles can be found here. Follow Ken Ross on Twitter and InstagWram and Facebook.
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