5 Unconventional Happy Hour Wine Pairing Ideas

5 Unconventional Happy Hour Wine Pairing Ideas
There's something about pairing food and wine that can elevate your home entertaining to the next level -- and to be honest, wine pairing does not have to be overly sophisticated (see Americana food & wine pairings) nor does it have to be complex (start with chocolate and wine).

But if you entertain regularly, you might be looking to offer your guests something a little different than your typical wine and cheese or wine and chocolate pairings. At this very moment I'm drinking an lovely glass of Crios Rosé of Malbec, a very dry pink with a delightful balance of spice, red cherry, and strawberry. The message behind this wine is Look at life differently. That, paired with thoughts of the beautiful backdrop of Argentina where these wine grapes were grown, got me thinking about some creative wine pairing ideas. Use these ideas to create your own custom combos.

1. Red/White Wine and Tapenade

After living in Holland for many years, I am a total tapenade fanatic; I think it's the perfect arrival snack (and we have not one, but three tapenade recipes). The secret here is that the main ingredient is still olives -- which, as you know, does pair well with wine -- but this is a fresh take on it. Some of my favorites include sweet reds + sundried tomato tapenade, or crisp whites with traditional kalmata tapenade.

2. White Wine and Soup

Soup is great year-round, and if you want a comforting conversation starter, get some soup fired up in the crock pot and invite your friends over. Soup is seriously underrated in my opinion. Even just a simple tomato soup with crusty bread from your local bakery and salty butter is a power combo. I think that crisp whites work well with soups, moreso from the hot/cool balance as opposed to anything else, but red works too. In general, if you have a cream soup you want a wine with high acidity to break through the richness; a softer wine would pair better with soups that aren't as rich.

3. Red/White Wine and Roasted/Toasted Vegetables

Wait, is that a healthy wine pairing option I see? While sticks of veggies slathered in a pre-made dip grace many happy hour tables, you can do better -- and I suggest you do, because who doesn't love veggies that have been loved up a bit. Blasted vegetables. Fermented vegetables. Slaw. For wines, look for grassy white wines (Savignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc) or earthy reds (Pinot Noir).

4. Rosé Wine and Fruity Salad

One thing we've been really getting into in the Plum Deluxe kitchen the past few years is fruity salads (not exactly the same as a fruit salad). Examples: Carnivale Carpese Salad, Strawberry Hazelnut Salad. Fruit-forward salads are great every month (you can always substitute what's easily found in your local grocery for the fruit). Then, look for rosé or white wines that have similar fruit profiles; in this case, I've found pairing like-for-like flavor notes works well. The Rosé of Malbec I mentioned earlier would be excellent with the Strawberry Hazelnut Salad.

Sparkling Wine And Creamy Dessert

Ok, when it comes to desserts, you can't get me away from the dairy -- pies, ice creams, custards, creme brulee. And instead of pouring even more red wine, try a small glass of a sweet sparkling wine; demi-sec is perfect. Champagne, prosecco, it doesn't matter -- the general rule is that you want the wine to be as sweet as the dessert, but I think the bubbles are pretty forgiving.
The beautiful thing about unconventional wine pairings is that, when in doubt, do a trial run -- or invite friends who are adventurous in their palate. Neither of those is a bad thing, not bad at all. As Crios says, Live Life Differently.

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is the founder and creator of Plum Deluxe. He authors our award-winning weekly email newsletter, The Blend and curates our popular organic tea of the month club.
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