Wine Flight Appetizers (A Novel First Course)

Wine flight

      For a novel first course, we sometimes substitute the salad for a wine flight. We’ve found this to be an enjoyable and unique way to kick off an evening.

     To populate a wine flight, we select wines either by vintage, varietal, region, or country. We also think it’s a good idea to consider the level of sophistication of the guests’ wine palettes. If our guests are new to wine, it gives them a chance to contrast the differences between each grape. 

     One of our recent wine flights featured three white varietals: a Fume Blanc, a Chardonnay, and a Riesling. Each tasting was accompanied by samplings of food we thought would pair well with its respective type:

      For the Fume Blanc – asparagus soup and wine crackers

      The Chardonnay – fig compote, challerhocker cheese, and apple slices

      And the Riesling – Maytag blue cheese drizzled with honey and roasted almonds

    We set up the wine flight in a separate room apart from where we’d be dining, and this seemed to work well.  The food was served on long plates (one plate per couple), with the associated wines in 2-3 ounce glasses flanking each specific food offering.  The order of tasting was dry to sweet, so the Fume Blanc was first, then the Chardonnay, and finally the Riesling.

     We scheduled an hour for the entire wine flight and allowed about 10-15 minutes for each tasting. The pace was leisurely, and we encouraged conversation regarding the wine and food.

     A wine flight is an especially good idea if the main course doesn’t require a lot of last minute attention. We try to have our entrée and sides cooking in the oven during the tastings. This way we are able to enjoy the wine flight with our guests.  

Wine Flight Appetizers (A Novel First Course)

yields: For six prep time: Ahead of time cook time: Ahead of time
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ASPARAGUS SOUP 2 1/2 Tbsp 1 small 3 stalks 1 2 4 cloves Zest 1 Tbsp Bundle Bunch 1 cup 2 cups Truffle salt and pepper 1/2 cup Asparagus tips CHEESE CRACKERS FOR WINE 8 Tbsp 4 oz. 1/2 tsp 1/4 tsp Pinch 1 cup FIG COMPOTE 1 1/2 lb. 2 Tbsp 1/2 cup 1/4 cup Zest and juice 1/4 tsp 1/2 tsp 3 sprigs 1 cup
List Butter Onion chopped Celery Leek (white part) cleaned and chopped Shallots chopped Garlic crushed Lemon Flour Asparagus (chopped, 6 tips set aside) Spinach Water Chicken broth To taste (easy on the truffle salt) Cream heavy For garnish list Butter cold cut into 16 pieces Cheese (your favorite) grated Salt Pepper white ground Cayenne pepper Flour all-purpse list Orange Black mission figs chopped Honey Wine red Raisins golden Orange Salt Vanilla Thyme wrapped in cheesecloth Water
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp
  • 1 small
    Onion chopped
  • 3 stalks
  • 1
    Leek (white part) cleaned and chopped
  • 2
    Shallots chopped
  • 4 cloves
    Garlic crushed
  • Zest
  • 1 Tbsp
  • Bundle
    Asparagus (chopped, 6 tips set aside)
  • Bunch
  • 1 cup
  • 2 cups
    Chicken broth
  • Truffle salt and pepper
    To taste (easy on the truffle salt)
  • 1/2 cup
    Cream heavy
  • Asparagus tips
    For garnish
  • 8 Tbsp
    Butter cold cut into 16 pieces
  • 4 oz.
    Cheese (your favorite) grated
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp
    Pepper white ground
  • Pinch
    Cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup
    Flour all-purpse
  • 1
  • 1/2 lb.
    Black mission figs chopped
  • 2 Tbsp
  • 1/2 cup
    Wine red
  • 1/4 cup
    Raisins golden
  • Zest and juice
  • 1/4 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 3 sprigs
    Thyme wrapped in cheesecloth
  • 1 cup


Preparation of three wine courses and respective appetizers.

Enter Target Time _______________

Time: The day before

  1. To prepare ASPARAGUS SOUP melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over med-low heat.

  2. Add vegetables through cloves of garlic and sauté for about 7 minutes.

  3. Add lemon zest and flour and stir for about a minute.

  4. Add asparagus and spinach and stir.

  5. Add the liquids, truffle salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 8 minutes.

  6. Stir in the heavy cream, and then remove from heat.

  7. Purée in the food processor (don’t do too much at a time), and then strain the mixture into a container immersed in ice bath.

  8. Adjust the seasonings if necessary, and refrigerate.

  9. Blanch the asparagus tips for garnish. Also can garnish with Italian parsley and a bit of sour cream.

  10. Serve either warm or chilled.

Time: The day before

  1. To prepare CHEESE CRACKERS FOR WINE put butter, cheese, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper in a food processor and pulse until the butter is broken up into uneven bits and the mixture forms small curds.

  2. Add the flour and pulse for one minute until the dough forms, making everything moist.

  3. Turn it out on a lightly floured surface and knead it gently until it comes together.

  4. Divide the dough in half with a scraper and pat each into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour or for up to 3 days.

  5. Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

  6. Working one disk at a time, roll it on a sheet of parchment paper to the thickness of ¼ inch.

  7. Using a small cookie cutter, cut the dough and place the rounds on a cookie sheet leaving an inch between crackers. Do the same with the second disk.

  8. Gather up the scraps and roll out the dough if you need more crackers.

  9. Bake for 14 minutes until crackers are lightly golden and firm to the touch. Cool.

  10. Can be served warm or at room temperature. Needs to be stored in refrigerator.

Time: The day before

  1. To prepare FIT COMPOTE Zest the orange.

  2. Add figs and honey to medium saucepan, then squeeze the juice from the orange over this mixture.

  3. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes, then add remaining ingredients.

  4. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 15 minutes until most of the liquid is gone. Stir occasionally.

  5. Discard the thyme and cool.

  6. Cover and store in refrigerator.

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