Merlot Meatball Appetizers

A plate of food and a glass of wine

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These Merlot Meatball Appetizers are delicious, and, easy to make addition to any appetizer spread. Italian meatballs tossed in a tangy, Merlot glaze are sure to disappear fast.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Wines. As always, all opinions are my own. Please enjoy wine responsibly.

Merlot Meatball Appetizers

Cooking and Entertaining with Wine

Whether you are hosting friends for a game day, or a holiday gathering, it’s the season for sharing and enjoying delicious food and wine. This fall and into the holidays, we are enjoying Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Wines Classic Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay.

Because these well-balanced and smooth wines are fruit-forward, they are perfect for every day, as well as entertaining. Their bright fruit flavours and smooth finishes also make them ideal for pairing with food and cooking.

Tray of meatball appetizers on a bed of lettuce with a glass of red wine

About Merlot

For these meatball appetizers, I’ve chosen Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Wines 2017 Merlot. This smooth, delicious, medium-bodied red features aromas of raspberries, mocha, and molasses, and the appealing essences of red berries, cherry cola, and vanilla oak.

Did you know that the Merlot grape is named after a blackbird? Check out the Fascinating History of Merlot

Of course, you will want to also sip this Merlot along with the finished recipe, too. You can find this wine, along with other Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi wines in the California section of your local liquor store.

Merlot Meatball Appetizers

Meatballs: Perfect Party Food

I love that meatballs are inexpensive, easy and quick to put together, and always delicious. You can make a big batch of meatballs and toss them in any sauce you like (try Cajun Turkey Meatballs, too). They freeze well, and, although they make perfect appetizers, they are just as good as a meal, as with these Sweet & Sour Meatballs.

Merlot Meatball Appetizers

About These Merlot Meatball Appetizers

You can use any ground meat for meatballs. For this recipe, I used a mixture of Italian sausage and ground beef. As a result, the meatballs are juicy and tender, with no need for other fillers. And, this also makes them gluten-free, so you can make everyone happy.

Frying vs Baking Meatballs

You can fry your meatballs, but I like to bake them. First of all, because baking means they have less fat and calories. Secondly, that delightful Merlot glaze wouldn’t cling to the meatballs as well if they are already coated in oil from frying. But mostly, I don’t like the mess caused by frying. Minimal cleanup is the goal. Because this recipe is already quick and simple.

A plate of food and a glass of wine

Pairing Wine with Food

The Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Classic Merlot that I used in this recipe is a versatile red that also goes beautifully with steaks, chops, burgers, and pasta.

Visit the pairings page at, where you can find a handy wine pairing app that gives you recommendations for which wines to serve with which foods. As well, you can find more pairing info and recipe ideas at

A plate of food and a glass of wine

Merlot Meatball Appetizers

These delicious Italian meatballs are tossed in a tangy Merlot glaze to make a perfect party appetizer.
4.73 from 36 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings 30 meatballs
Calories 123 kcal



  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb Italian sausage meat
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 cup red bell pepper finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp basil chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 2 eggs large

Merlot Glaze

  • 1 cup merlot
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar



  • Preheat oven to 400Β°
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients
  • Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls (try using a melon baller to keep the sizes uniform), placing them on the prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake 20 minutes, turning halfway through

Merlot Glaze

  • While meatballs are in the oven, whisk wine and balsamic vinegar together in a wide pan.
  • Bring to a boil, and continue to boil, whisking occasionally, until reduced by half
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool somewhat. The mixture should be slightly syrupy.
  • Gently toss cooked meatballs in the glaze until thoroughly coated
  • garnish with more parsley and serve with toothpicks


You will notice there is no salt in this recipe. The Italian sausage and the Parmesan cheese contain enough saltiness, that no added salt is required.


Serving: 1meatballCalories: 123kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 6gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 180mgPotassium: 116mgSugar: 1gVitamin A: 215IUVitamin C: 6.8mgCalcium: 50mgIron: 0.7mg
Keyword ground beef, Italian sausage, merlot, red wine
Tried this recipe? What changes did you make?Let us know how it was!

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64 thoughts on “Merlot Meatball Appetizers

    1. Hi Rose, these really are fabulous! And absolutely, you can use spicy Italian sausage. I do, but leave it up to the reader, as many people don’t like spice. Enjoy!

  1. Omg, I can’t wait to make and serve these at my next party. Can they be made ahead of time and be served at room temperature?

  2. I would not have thought of meatballs as great party food / canapes but you are so right that with toothpicks provided, they are perfect for that! And I love the flavours in yours!

  3. I agree that meatballs are the perfect appetizer and everyone loves them. When you are having cocktails you really need to serve a hearty app like this. That merlot dip looks amazing!

  4. Beautiful clicks, would make anyone reach out for those succulent meatballs. I love red wine, so am not sure if I’d be able to save any for the glaze.

  5. I need to make these for our next holiday party. Love the addition of wine to the meatballs! Sounds absolutely delicious ?

  6. I’m always on the hunt for new meatball recipes and this one looks like an absolute winner! Thanks so much for sharing πŸ™‚

  7. These look so delicious, I’ve never thought of using merlot for a glaze! Looks like a perfect dish to bring to a holiday potluck.

  8. Absolutely Fabulous! These sound so good. I’ve used wine in sauces for years but never thought to glaze meatballs with them. Great recipe!

  9. I love the idea of adding merlot in my meatballs. Sounds so scrumptious. A wine glass in hand and some in the meatballs – now that a meals dinner.

  10. I absolutely love wine and will drink it anyway/anywhere- in a glass, in my food, on a plane, on a train, in a house, with a mouse… And wine with meatballs is divine! These look absolutely delicious and perfect for the holidays!

  11. Merlot is such a great table wine, fruity and round. It must give such an incredible flavor to these meatballs. Love that you mixed Italian sausages and ground beef, so flavorful!!

    1. Hi Nicoletta, yes Merlot is a delicious table wine. I love this one by Woodbridge because it’s especially fruity, but smooth. And it enhances these meatballs so much!

  12. That merlot sounds so delicious, I will definitely go and see if it’s here too. And adding it to these meatballs – genius!

  13. Meatballs are definitely the perfect party food! I usually make mine with a mix of ground beef and sausage too. These sound delicious and that merlot glaze is a nice touch!

  14. I love using local wines in cooking. After living in wine country for three years I loved visiting all the different wineries and being able to tell a story of each of the wineries through cooking. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    1. Hi Bev, I so agree! I live in wine country, and every winery has a story. Enjoy, and I hope to hear how the recipe went for you, too. Thanks for stopping by!

  15. I love gluten free meatball recipe!. And that Merlot glaze?! amazing! I will definitely be giving this a try for my holiday party πŸ™‚

  16. I don’t think I’ve ever had a meatball that I didn’t love, but one thing is for sure, I’ve never had one with such a flavourful glaze!! Wine in it? Brilliant! We usually make a big batch of meatballs as part of a holiday get together at our home and these would be perfect. Pretty sure I’d have to make a double batch because I know they would disappear fast! Pinned and can’t wait to try πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Dawn, I’m with you on love of meatballs. This glaze is just so simple and delicious, so I know you’ll love it. And making a double batch is always a good idea! πŸ™‚

  17. These Merlot Meatball Appetizers sound delicious, Colleen! I love the pairing and the use of Merlot in this recipe, too. Appetizer gatherings are my favourite kind of event – your recipe is going to be on the next appetizer menu. Thanks so much for sharing! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Denise. I just love appetizer gatherings, too. I like to focus on one really more complicated one, and then a lot of simple, yet delicious ones, like these meatballs. I know you will love them. Thanks for dropping by. πŸ™‚

  18. Yay for gluten free meatballs! The sausage makes a great contribution to texture and flavour. I also prefer to bake meatballs. It’s much easier than frying!

  19. Definitely drooling all over my keyboard here. These look amazing! Your photos look beautiful, as always, and your recipe sounds divine! Can’t wait to try it. Pinned to make later.

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