Wedding Series: A match made in heaven – pairing canapés and wine

Wedding trends come and go, and traditions have evolved right along with them—including what’s served and eaten on a wedding day. Deciding what to feed your guests can be fun (hello, tastings!) so here are our top tips for pairing canapés and wine for a wedding reception.

Firstly, you need to be realistic about your budget and find a balance with a menu you can afford, yet one that still features cuisine that leaves you feeling your day was truly special. The same goes for the bar. If you can’t afford a full bar, just serve beer and wine, but make it really good quality beer and wine, and let it flow.

You only have one chance to make a first impression, so setting the tone of your dream wedding with visually appealing, wonderful, bite-sized canapés is a must. Plus, you’ll need something delicious to drink with them!

Your guests might have travelled far to celebrate your big day, so they’ll be hungry, but to avoid spoiling their appetite for what is to come, you need to get the quantities right. Three to five canapés per person is the recommended quantity for a forty-five-minute reception before you sit down for your wedding breakfast, plus a couple of glasses of wine of course. 

What to choose? Luxury wedding venues offer a tempting selection of canapés, everything from roast beef and yorkies to sushi, whole Italian prosciutto ham carved fresh at the table to mini Mexican tacos.

At Middle Temple, our executive chef Jordan Andrews believes in taking guests on a gastronomic journey by creating a menu that includes starter, main course and dessert canapés. “They must look exquisite and be packed with flavour that is in keeping with the season and theme of the event,” he says. “One tiny bite will create an explosion of taste that will leave your guests wanting more.”

Choose a British theme from Jordan’s Summer canapé menu and you could have treacle cured salmon with avocado purée; peach and Roquefort bruschetta; mini shepherd’s pies; asparagus, pea arancini, red pepper fondue; and elderflower pâte de fruit with rhubarb and orange.

More exotic choices include beetroot falafel with cumin yoghurt; peppered beef wagyu with truffle hollandaise; Summer vegetable tempura; and strawberry and chocolate ice cream pops. Everyone is catered for, including vegans, and the canapés are all made fresh on the big day at this beautiful, historical London venue.

Your choice of drinks to enjoy with canapés is equally wide and delicious. Champagne is, of course, wonderful with canapés, the bubbles adding an extra layer of sensation – and celebration!

The key to pairing food and wine is to remember that foods generally go best with wines they have grown up with. Balance and weight also matter: balance in terms of one not overpowering the other, and matching the weight of food with the weight of wine – not by colour or flavour.

So, a full-bodied white wine such as a Chardonnay is often a better match for meaty canapés than a light red wine. A delicate, light-bodied wine such as a Riesling is more suited to poultry and fish. Wines from cool climates will have more acidity than those from hot climates, so these are better suited to complement fatty foods – think smoked salmon and champagne.

And of course, you’ll need to offer non-alcoholic drinks with your canapés, for example fresh fruit juices, cordials or sparkling water with a pretty garnish.

Finally, you get to do the fun bit – to taste the food and drinks you’ll be offering so you choose a match made in heaven!