How To Host A Wine and Cheese Party
What better time to entertain friends than when the weather starts to cool down? One of the simplest, least time-consuming yet most popular fall and holiday gatherings is a wine and cheese party. Unlike a dinner party or cocktail-and-hors d’oeuvres party, you’ll only need a few hours to prepare for your wine and cheese party. Once your shopping is complete, it’s all downhill. You don’t even need to know anything about wine or cheese.
First, make up your guest list: relatives, neighbors, friends, co-workers, folks from the executive suite, or all of the above. Wine and cheese parties can be for six or 16, even larger than that if you have help. The cheese trays and wine carafes will need to be refreshed regularly, and if you’re the only one doing that, you won’t have time to relax and enjoy your own party unless you keep the guest list small. Then decide the kind of party you want to host: casually sophisticated or more upscale.
Once those decisions are made, you can start your shopping list. Careful planning will help you stay within your party budget—you can find wines and cheeses in all price ranges. And, of course, key to a successful wine and cheese party is your selection of compatible wines and cheeses.
Top suggestions from party pros:
• Offer three to six kinds of cheeses along with three to six kinds of wine.
• Buy your cheeses at a specialty store, where the shopkeepers are knowledgeable about all things cheese. They will probably have wine recommendations for each type of cheese you purchase.
• Offer mild goat’s milk and sheep’s milk cheeses, medium cow’s milk cheeses such as cheddar and gruyere, and bolder cheeses like gorgonzola and any of the bleus.
• Vary the textures of cheese: include soft, medium and hard cheeses.
• Serve aged cheeses with older wines and newer artisan cheeses with young wines.
• Pair mild cheeses with light wines like Rieslings and some Chardonnays; medium cheeses with medium-body wines like Pinot Noirs and Pinot Grigios; and bolder cheeses with full-bodied reds like Shiraz, Tawny Port, and some Merlots along with full-bodied whites like some Chardonnays and Sauvignons Blancs.
• Just for fun, narrow your wine choices by category: Offer different kinds of sherry; or varying champagnes and sparkling wines; or wines from a particular region of France, Italy, Australia, California, or your own home state. Or pair French cheeses and French wines, Italian cheeses and wines, California cheeses and wines, and—you get the idea.
• Offer a selection of breads and crackers: French bread, raisin bread, rye, salty crackers, and plain crackers. Avoid strongly flavored crackers.
• Serve fresh fruit and nuts on the side.
• Have carafes of ice water strategically placed around the room.
• Consider a dessert wine with a delicate dessert cheese or just dessert: Cheesecake is always a good choice!
Need help planning your wine and cheese party or have questions about what wine to pair with certain cheeses? Come by our tasting room, we’d be more than happy to help!