EXPLORE -"The Finer Things in Life -Globally" Wine & Food Matching

Champagne and appetizers

Holiday soirees heat up the evenings this Christmas season as wine, cocktails and Champagne flow freely while elegant appetizers make the rounds. It’s the adored time of year as we taste the most gorgeous and flavorful cuisine of the entire season.

During the holidays, I write about appetizers and cocktails on a fairly frequent basis. My love of Champagne and Sparkling Wines is taking over as I am working on my New Year’s Eve menu. Champagne and Sparkling Wines are so diverse and pair well with many different dishes, and there are a few personal rules I follow before beginning my ingredients list when Champagne is on the menu;

  • Champagne & Sparkling Wines – Brie, Gouda, Shrimp, Shellfish, Salami, Smoked Salmon, Stuffed Mushrooms, Fruit Based Desserts and Shortbread Cookies
  • Rosé – Brie, Prosciutto, Smoked Salmon, Chocolate and Raspberries
  • Cava – Brie, Gouda, Olives, Almonds, Smoked Salmon, Prosciutto
  • Asti – Almonds, Cheesecake, Raspberries, Cookies
  • Prosecco – Almonds, Brie, Gouda, Prosciutto, Smoked Salmon

Since smoked salmon is obviously the common denominator it is first on the list. I have found a stellar appetizer with great flavor and beauty, courtesy of the Grapes of California.


Smoked Salmon Appetizers


  • 1 cup finely diced red and green seedless California grapes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 tablespoons low fat cream cheese
  • 4 slices (roughly 3 x 5) Danish-style rye bread, each cut crosswise into 4 pieces
  • 2 oz. thinly sliced smoked salmon


In a small bowl, combine the grapes, dill, vinegar, sugar and salt. Spread the cream cheese on the bread slices and top with pieces of salmon. Drizzle with the grape relish and serve.

About the author

Aksel Ritenis

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