How to Pair Wine and Nuts

Wine and cheese are naturals together, but if you're a vegan or entertaining friends with special diets (think dairy-free or Paleo) you need to rethink which nibbles you put on your "cheese" plate.

"The right nut is an undiscovered hero when it comes to wine pairing," says Sally James, cookbook author and food and wine consultant. Nuts' fat draws out additional flavors from wine. And bonus: you get fiber and protein. Enjoy these pairings of wine and nuts at your next party.

Pecans + Cabernet Sauvignon


Cabernet has intricate, fruity undertones. Pecans are also complex and sweet. "They are natural partners," says James. "The nut brings out the wine's jamminess and balances out the tannins."

Raw Almonds + Unoaked Chardonnay


Raw or roasted? It makes a difference. The earthy flavor of raw almonds complements the green-apple notes in unoaked chardonnay.

Roasted Almonds + Pinot Noir


Red wine can pull out bitter notes in nuts, so the two can be harder to pair. "But pinot noir isn't heavy on tannins or acid," James says, making it delicious with toasty, sweet almonds.

Macadamias + Sparkling Wine


"Eating macadamia nuts is almost like eating butter," James says. "You want something equally decadent." Try a dry, yeasty sparkling wine, like Champagne.

Hazelnuts + Rosé


Hazelnuts have an element of sweetness with woody notes, says James. This complements the berry or citrusy taste of rosé.

Watch: How to Make Champagne Cocktails 4 Ways