Four Holiday Appetizers & Wine Pairings

It’s the week before Christmas, can you believe it? Every year I think I’m organized till the final week comes, then all of a sudden everything feels like it’s been flipped upside down. I feel like I’m running around with no minute to spare. From last minute Christmas gifts and planning out what to cook and bake as we approach the final days.

I’m sure many of you have Christmas and New Year’s parties to host or attend over the next couple of weeks. So to help you out in the hustle and bustle, we have put together some of our favourite festive appetizers along with the delicious wine pairings, thanks to our lovely local friends at Gray Monk Estate Winery .Plus, Gray Monk Winery is giving one lucky winner a case of their wines to enjoy over the holidays, see details at the bottom of the post! Four quick and delicious appetizers that we promise your friends and family will love. I hope one or more of these recipes will make their way onto your appetizer menu this Holiday season! On that note, I have to say, the days and anticipation leading up to Christmas Eve and day, really are my favourite. 

Whipped Goat Cheese and Pomegranate Bites
Simple is always best! These are a breeze to make and are a show stopper with the jewel tone of the pomegranate seeds. They pair perfectly with Gray Monk’s Odyssey White Brut. It’s a nice idea to have out some bubbly when you guests arrive, setting the mood for a fun and celebratory evening. The citrus notes from this refreshing and lively sparkling wine work wonderfully the goat cheese bites. Makes 24.


1  package(397 g) store bought puff pastry (thawed overnight in the fridge)
¾ cup (175 mL) soft goat cheese
⅓ cup (75 mL) whipping cream
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) honey
Salt and pepper
Seeds from ½ pomegranate

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C) line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out the dough to 2cm thick (I like to roll between to pieces of parchment paper to make this step easy).
Using a small round 2 inch(5 cm) cookie cutter, cut out 24 disks.
Place the disks on the prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart.|
Cover with a piece of parchment paper over the top and place another baking sheet on top (this will help them stay nice and flat and not puff up to much in the oven).
Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown, remove and cool on a rack.
Meanwhile make the whipped goat cheese, using your mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or hand held mixer, break up the goat cheese add in the honey, cream and season well with salt and pepper. Whip until soft peaks form.
Fit a pastry bag with a small round tip and pipe a generous amount onto each cooled pastry disk. You can always just spoon it on as well. Top with pomegranate seeds and serve!

Braided Pesto Wreath Bread
Stunning is what we have to say about this oh so festive braided bread. Make the dough the day before to cut down on prep time. Have this out with the rest of your appetizers, pairing perfectly with the Brut from above. Makes one large braided loaf- serves 8-10.

1 cup (250 mL) lukewarm water
4 teaspoon (20 mL) active dry yeast
1 cup (250 mL) milk, gently warmed
4 ½ cups (1125 mL) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 mL) sugar
4 teaspoons (20 mL) sea salt
⅓ cup + 2 Tbsp (105 mL) olive oil
¾ cup store bought or homemade pesto
Sea salt for garnish

1. Place the water and the yeast in your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Let it stand for 5-8 minutes until bubbly.
2. Add in the milk, flour, sugar and salt and olive oil. Mix on a medium low speed until the dough comes together and is smooth, about 5 minutes. Gently oil a medium sized bowl place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap, Refrigerator overnight.
3. In the morning remove the dough from the fridge, preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
4. Roll out the dough to a large rectangle about
5. Spread an even layer of the pesto over the dough and roll up the dough into a tight cylinder. Place on the baking sheet and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up. (this helps to keep the layers nice)
6. Remove from the freezer and cut down the middle leaving a 5 cm space at the top.
7. Twist the two pieces together, then attach the two ends to form a wreath, pinch the dough together on the ends to seal (you can use a bit of egg white here as well to help).
8. Let the wreath proof for 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed up.
9. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until golden brown.
10. Remove and sprinkle with sea salt.

Holiday Spiced Nut Mix
These are are soooo addictive, crunchy, sweet and salty! The perfect accompaniment to any holiday spread. We have created a platter with speck (style of prosciutto), brie cheese, comte cheese, sliced apples, crackers and cranberry compote, a holiday twist on a charcuterie board. Gray Monk’s silky smooth Pinot Noir is the perfect addition to this holiday favorite, it’s medium bodied with notes of cherry, ripe berry flavours and a hint of spice on the finish. It’s accent by the nuts, cheese and meats. Makes 5 cups of mix. Makes 5 cups of mix.

4 ½ cups of mixed nuts, we like pecans, almonds, cashews and walnuts
1 egg white
½ cup (125 mL) dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoon (45 mL) fresh chopped rosemary
1 Tablespoon(15 mL) hot smoked paprika (feel free to use the sweet kind if you don’t like spice)
½ teaspoon (5 mL) cayenne pepper
Sea salt – be generous

1.Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl gently whisk the egg white,  add in the sugar and whisk again.
3. Add in all the nuts and the seasoning, using a rubber spatula ensure all the nuts are coated.
4. Evenly disperse onto the baking sheet, bake  in the oven for 20-25 minutes, making sure to mix the nuts halfway through the cooking time. The nuts should be golden brown.
5. Remove from the oven let cool slightly stirring every couple minutes so they do not clump together.

Crisp Winter Crudite with Beet Hummus
This is such a nice way to have veggies out for your guests, with everything else being quite  rich the crisp winter vegetables are a welcomed addition to any appetizer spread. Why not set out two dips to go along with the veg, we opted for artichoke dip as well as a beet hummus-loving the colour! Gray Monk’s smooth yet refreshing Pinot Gris not only has a beautiful hue to it, but it’s also very versatile for pairing with food or simply sipping throughout the night, making t the perfect addition to this party.  Makes 1 ¾ cups of hummus serves 8-10.

1 beet cooked and cooled – we love the ones that are already ready from the grocery store
1 15 oz can of chickpeas- drained
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon (15 mL) tahini
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
⅓ cup (75 mL) olive oil

1. Cut up the beat into chunks, place in your food processor and blend for 1-2 minutes until it is finely chopped up. Add all remaining ingredients except for the olive oil, blend again until a paste starts to form.
2. Slowly add in the olive oil until a smooth texture is obtained, add a small amount of water if it needs to be thinned out.
3.Remove and keep in the fridge in a sealed container until need, will keep for up to 1 week.

We have set this out with fresh carrots, radishes, cucumber and some broccoli and seeded crackers to complete a colourful platter. Pairing well with Gray Monks Pinot Gris and Brut.

To enter to win a case of wine from our friends at Gray Monk Estate Winery follow the steps below!

1. Head over to their Instagram page @graymonkwinery and like their photo.
2. Tag as many friends as you like, each tag is an entry to win!
3. You must be 19+ years of age and reside in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba in Canada.
4. The contest is open for the next 48 hours and the winner will be chosen at 5pm Thursday, December 20th.

Good Luck!!!

Thank you to Gray Monk Estate Winery for sponsoring this post. All styling, content creation and opinions are our own.