How to Host a Wine and Cheese Party

I recently held my first Wine & Cheese Party on Valentine's Day and it was so much fun! I would like to share my tips with you so that you can host a fabulous party as well.

1. Send out fun invitations well in advance so everyone can plan ahead. You can mail paper invites or use a service like evite.com to send invitations by email. You could also create a Facebook event and send invitations that way.

2. On the invitations, let everyone know the dress code (I chose semi-formal) and that they need to bring one bottle of wine and one sampler of cheese.

3. On the invitations, ask for a reply so that you can know how many people to plan for.

4. Plan your menu. In addition to all the wine & cheese that will be arriving with your guests, you should plan for some more substantial food to add to the menu. Include various bread, biscuits, and crackers to serve with the cheese. Also serve strawberries, grapes, figs and pears which are some classic accompaniments to cheese. Many cheeses can be paired nicely with olives, walnuts and almonds so add a few small dishes of those. I also choose to serve sliced deli meats and hot meatballs on toothpicks to entice the male guests. And don't forget some non-alcoholic beverages and fresh ice water.

5. Set your table. I served the wine and cheese buffet style so guests could mingle around the table. I provided paper plates for grabbing some nibbles and going into the living room. (Paper plates are ideal for quick clean-up.) Be sure to have plenty of cutting boards on the table to place the cheeses on and also many knives. Each cheese should have its own knife so that the flavors don't get mixed.

6. Label the cheeses. As each guest arrives, create a small "flag" out of a toothpick and a piece of paper and write the name of the cheese on it. Stick the "flag" in the cheese so that all the guests know what they're eating. Another option is to create simple namecards from a folded piece of cardstock.

7. Be sure you have enough wine glasses. If you don't have glasses, you can use plastic wine glasses. Or you can ask your guests to bring their own wine glass.

8. Make simple wine charms to distinguish each guest's glass. I made charms using a piece of wire strung with colored beads. Wrap the charm around the stem of the glass and you will always know which one is yours.

9. Set the mood. I choose jazz as my theme and set the table with only white or clear dishes. I played classic jazz music like Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble through my computer speakers. It created a stylish atmosphere that enhanced the fancy mood of the party.

10. Plan for parking and overnight guests. Never let your guests drink and drive. Plan ahead for overnight parking and for places for your guests to sleep. We are lucky to have two spare bedrooms, but we also ended up with some guests sleeping on the couch in the living room. One smart couple even brought their own blow-up mattress so they could sleep comfortably. If you suspect a guest is too drunk to drive, offer to call them a cab or find a sober friend to take them home if they don't want to stay overnight.

11, Have fun! Try to have everything set up before the guests arrive so that you can greet everyone. Encourage your guests to try new things and freely offer your opinion of all the wines and cheeses to begin conversations. Relax and enjoy your party!

Hosting a wine & cheese is not as hard as you may think. Following my simple tips will have you whipping up a great soirée in no time!

What Is Your Favorite Type of Wine?

  • Red - eg. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz
  • White - eg. Riesling, Chardonnay
  • Blush - eg. Zinfandel
  • Dessert - eg. Icewine
  • Sparkling Wine or Champagne
  • I don't drink
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