How to Host A Wine And Cheese Tasting Party
Wine And Cheese Party Ideas
Coming up with a party theme can sometimes be daunting. You want to have a group of friends over but feel you should have a purpose. The usual events may be Superbowl or Halloween but when you want something in between why not try hosting a wine and cheese party? I hosted one that ended up being one of my favorite parties.
For starters, you will want to buy about 4 different wines. I did two white and two red but since white wines go best with a greater number of cheeses you may want to do three or even all white wines. Make sure to buy a nice variety of cheeses also. I bought six kinds but at least four would be good.
When displaying the wines and cheeses, arrange them decoratively on a large table or counter. I had six small wooden cutting boards for each triangular slab of cheese. Just add a cheese knife and a label to each board. I used place-card labels in decorative place-card holders. You can simply place a bottle of wine next to or between a couple of cheese boards or you can add some mystery. I thought it would be fun to keep the bottles in the paper wine bags so that the wine labels were all hidden. I had bought one higher priced red and one lower, and the same thing with white. I still placed the bottles next to the cheeses that they accompanied but no one knew what wine they were drinking. Even I had forgotten once the party started. During the wine tasting, I had the guests rate each wine. Since they couldn't be influenced by the labels, it was fun to see which ones ended up being the favorites. It was surprising that sometimes the lower priced wine was the favorite.
To prepare for the party, you need to make sure the wines and cheeses are served correctly. The cheeses should be served at room temperature. They should be set out about two hours before the party. White wines should be chilled and reds should be served at room temperature. Red wines should also be allowed to breathe for 15 - 20 minutes after opening. Serve crackers or bread also to help clear the palette between tastings. I also like to serve a tray of fruit which goes well with the wine and cheese. A variety of olives would also go well. Either have separate wine glasses for each type of wine or be able to rinse the glasses with fresh water after each tasting.
Wine And Cheese Pairings
Generally it is personal preference on what wine should be served with what particular cheese. There are some guidelines though. White wines tend to match better with soft cheeses and stronger flavors. Red wines go with hard cheeses and milder flavors. Choose fruity and sweet white wines to work with a wider range of cheeses. Basically, the more pungent the cheese, the sweeter the wine should be.
Some common pairings are:
Pinot Grigio - Brie, Camembert
Chardonnay - Mild Cheddar, Gruyere, Provolone
Riesling - Gouda
Sauvignon Blanc - Goat Cheese
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Noir - Camembert, Sharp Cheddar, Blue
Port - Gorgonzola, Stilton
Shiraz - Sharp Cheddar
Wine Tasting Party Invitations
Depending on the size group you have over, you may want to send out party invitations. For a large group, this is probably a good idea.
You can decide whether you want to provide all of the wine or if you would like each couple to bring one favorite bottle. If you decide to have your guests bring some of the wine, you may want to designate, on the invitation, certain couples to bring white and others to bring red. Make sure you have them keep the bottles concealed in a wine bag if you want to play the guessing game. This does get a little more tricky with multiple people bringing wine, but if everyone brings the bottles in a brown paper wine bag you should still be the only one knowing which bottle is which in the end.
Another decision you need to make is with cheese. Again, you can either provide all of it or have the guests each bring one variety. If the guests are contributing, have them each bring a different kind and designate which kind on the invitation.
Make sure to have everyone RSVP and include the type of wine and cheese they are bringing at the time of their reservation.
Wine And Cheese Party Menu
Although wine and cheese are almost enough for a party, some other menu items would round off a party nicely. It would be especially nice to serve some other appetizers if your guests are contributing to the wine and cheese.
As I mentioned, some must haves are an assortment of breads and crackers. These go well with both the wine and cheese and help to clear the palette. A bowl of fresh fruit is another basic item that goes well at a wine and cheese party and an assortment of olives is a good condiment.
Besides those, some other things to consider are chicken puff appetizers, sliced summer sausage, stuffed mushrooms or tomatoes, and meatballs. A large entree is probably not necessary. This is a good party for nibbling and sipping.
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