Winter starters: recipe ideas and wine pairing

Planning a seasonal menu? Here are the best wines to pair with winter starters!

Winter starters: recipe ideas and wine pairing

Date of publication: 25/01/2024

Globalisation has accustomed consumers to always having a rich selection of ingredients to enjoy all year round. However, the importance of seasonality should not be underestimated, both from a dietary and environmental point of view. Eating seasonal ingredients helps the body to take in more nutrients, and reduces the impact caused by the long production processes needed to get goods to the table.

If you love eating in season, starting with appetisers, here are the best wines to enjoy with winter starters!

Wines to drink with tasty seafood starters


antipasti di verdure carne e pesce e vino in abbinamento

It is not only products from the land that are subject to seasonal cycles, but also those from the sea. In the cold season, sea bass, hake, anchovies, turbot, cuttlefish and many other varieties of fish arrive on consumers' tables, making for delicious winter hors d'oeuvre recipes.


Among the best winter fish and wine starters, you can prepare, for example, delicious hake and potato meatballs, which are soft and tasty, reminiscent of the salty taste of the sea, but rather delicate in flavour.

Eaten alone or with an accompanying sauce, this finger food is at its best when paired with the right wine, even better if a fresh, mineral white, such as a Pecorino Terre di Chieti IGT. This versatile and fragrant Abruzzese excellence flaunts an elegant straw yellow colour in the glass, while the nose arrives with fruity, exotic and citrus scents. In the mouth it is refreshing, structured, lively and drinkable, excellent with seafood dishes, be they summer or winter!


If, on the other hand, what you are looking for in an appetiser is the more intense taste of the sea - capable of evoking even in winter the memory of lunches on the beach and the warmth of the sun on the skin - fried anchovies are the right choice, tasty to nibble at the beginning of the meal, especially with a glass of Falanghina Campania IGT. In a sip of this wine one can find the liveliness of its land of origin, expressed with elegant and persuasive hints. Limpid and brilliant, the Falanghina tickles the nose with an intense aromatic charge, composed of fruity scents (including apple and lychee) and citrus, as well as light notes of herbs, such as thyme, while the palate arrives rich and complex. One taste is enough to immediately give any fish starter a boost!



Winter meat and wine starters


Anything but poor, the earthy winter season offers diners an array of excellent produce, including meat, fruit and vegetables. Iconic in this season are broccoli and chestnuts, with which to make delicious meals.


If you're looking for a simple and tasty idea for seasonal hors d'oeuvres with meat and great wine to match, you can start with mini broccoli and sausage quiches, which create a riot of intense flavours and different textures. Inside a crumbly puff pastry shell, these pies conceal a warm, enveloping and tasty filling, somewhere between the unctuous savouriness of sausage and the sweetness of broccoli.

The best way to savour this dish? Uncork an iconic Piedmontese wine such as Barbaresco DOCG, a wine that proudly displays a riot of heady aromas, amplified by an ageing that reaches 50 months for the riserva version. Olfactory examination reveals hints of morello cherry and spices, while tasting reveals a dry and intense taste, with a good presence of tannins.


A perfect ingredient for winter desserts, but also to enrich savoury preparations, the chestnut is a true emblem of the cold season. In fact, you can also use it to create hors d'oeuvres with typical winter products, preferably alongside a more savoury product. Excellent as a hot dish, chestnut and bacon skewers are at their best when savoured with a light, aromatic and easy-drinking red wine, such as a Lambrusco di Modena DOC.

The best-known sparkling red ever - able to please everyone thanks to its versatility and drinkable soul - is perfectly suited to this recipe. Its medium acidity and moderate presence of tannins ensure that Lambrusco accompanies this dish without overpowering the flavours or being overpowered in turn. Its fragrant notes include hints of blackberries and red fruits, while on the palate it is balanced, structured, smooth and lively, with an immediately recognisable effervescence. Perfect for making an excellent combination of hors d'oeuvres with cold cuts and wine in winter!

The best wines to pair with vegetarian starters


The culinary world - especially the one that draws heavily from the most rustic and genuine tradition - is not lacking for vegetarian winter starters either, thanks to an extraordinary variety of vegetables of all kinds.


An artichoke flan, for example, is perfect for whetting diners' appetites, thanks to its light texture. It can be savoured on its own or enriched by serving it on a tasty bed of melted Parmesan cheese, with which it is a must to scarp with every forkful. In both cases, a glass of Vermentino di Sardegna DOC is ideal to accompany a particular flavour like that of artichokes, giving the palate a pleasant freshness.

Fine, balanced and elegant, this wine displays a savoury and mineral soul, and an aromatic bouquet in which hints of apple and citrus fruits stand out above all, with almost herbaceous suggestions, while on the palate it conquers with an aftertaste of white flowers. Indispensable in hors d'oeuvres with winter vegetables and wine!


If, on the other hand, you want to bring a rustic and tasty dish to the table, an excellent idea for an appetiser is onion and potato rösti, pancakes belonging to the Swiss culinary tradition usually made of potatoes, but which can be made in many variations.

In this case, a wine is needed that can degrease the palate from the greasiness of this fried preparationand at the same time lighten it from the intense flavour of the onions.

The ideal candidate is still an island white, such as an exceptional Grillo Sicilia DOC. An emblem of a Mediterranean area that is reflected in its organoleptic notes, Grillo is one of Sicily's best wines, straw yellow in colour with light, elegant golden hues. One sip is enough to fall in love with its aromas of white flowers and jasmine and its hints of tropical fruit. Its acidulous and fresh flavour also makes it a perfect wine to accompany fried dishes of land and sea.

Still haven't found the bottle that's right for you? Get inspired by Giordano Wines!