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Nuts and Wine

Now that the holidays are here, many of us are planning parties, dinners and cocktail events. For the novice–and even knowledgeable–wine enthusiast it can be difficult to decide what wines to serve and what foods to pair them with…this is where nuts can come in very handy.

Adding nuts to food generally makes it much more wine-friendly. The rich and toasty character of nuts brings roundness to any dish, helping to bridge the food and wine.  Adding a sprinkle of toasted nuts to classically hard-to-pair foods such as asparagus, artichoke and salads can suddenly make them the perfect match for wine.  And chili or hot Asian foods with a few ground or chopped nuts folded through will have their heat softened enough by the nuts to allow the wine to pair nicely.

Wine pairs beautifully with nuts and cheese, here are some combination ideas that bring out the flavors and work well together:

  • Light zesty wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino, Pinot Grigio and Sancerre are great with pistachios and cashews, the brightness in the wine bringing out the undertones of the nuts and visa versa.
  • Sparkling wines and almonds are a real hit, whether toasted, raw, or marcona style.
  • Rich, fruity whites like Chardonnay and Ligonier, pair perfectly with hazelnuts and hazelnut paste with a touch of honey.
  • Rose and walnuts are delightful (or make walnut bread with lavender for a really perfect match) and pecans go any which way with lighter reds such a Pinot Noir.
  • Pretty much any roasted nut is going to bring out something great in rich aromatic, heady red wine as there are so many nut-like elements in these wines.

Have fun and health experimenting with different flavors this holiday season!

Cheers from the Nutty Chef!