DElicious appetizer and wine

Merlot is a deep, red wine made with not only grapes but cherries and plums. It goes best with heavier, hearty foods. The medium- to full-bodied taste makes it a perfect wine to pair with a wide variety of appetizers. If you are planning a party or dinner and need to know which appetizers would go best with your Merlot, there are a few simple guidelines to remember that can be applied to your menu.

Try to incorporate a thick and rich tomato sauce into some of your appetizers. Mini pizzas work well with the wine and can be as casual or gourmet as you'd like with the toppings -- pepperoni and cheese works just as well for a topping as artichoke hearts or even shrimp. You also could serve meatballs or gnocchi dumplings coated in marinara sauce and skewered with toothpicks.

Have at least one kind of meat kabob. Red meat or lamb and Merlot are matches made in heaven. Besides mini kabobs, you can use red meat by serving mini burgers, steak medallions tossed with a gravy or steak quesadillas.

Have a selection of chocolates available to offer a sweet partnership with the Merlot. You can go gourmet with dark chocolates or use simple grocery store brands.

Use a variety of glazes for chicken wings. Teriyaki, tomato, lemon pepper and buffalo sauces will all complement Merlot.

Use heavier vegetable appetizers for Merlot instead of raw veggie trays. Stuffed mushrooms, pearl onions roasted in meat sauce and potato skins all are perfect choices.