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Have a Wine and Cheese Party
What is a Wine and Cheese Party?
A wine and cheese party is a great way to bring your friends together for a delicious evening. Often hosted in an inviting home atmosphere, this type of gathering is fun, inexpensive and enlightening. You and your foodie friends will have a great time sampling the different wine and cheese offerings. It is interesting to taste how the wines affect the flavors of the cheeses, and to experience a wide variety of "mouthfeels" with other individuals who also enjoy this sort of event.
Why Eat Wine and Cheese Together?
Wine and cheese go hand-in-hand. Oftentimes a fatty food, such as cheese, will be paired with an astringent food, like wine. These types of pairings are common throughout the world. Some examples include oil and vinegar, pickled ginger and sushi, and potato chips and soda pop.
One reason why these opposites go so well together is that the astringent component returns balance to a person's palate after eating something which contains a good amount of fat. The wine essentially cleanses the palate after cheese has been eaten so that the taster's next bite of a different variety of cheese can be fully experienced.
What is your favorite type of wine?
What Are Some Good Pairings?
While there are no real rules to pairing wine and cheese–some varieties of cheese taste better with certain types of wine. There are four basic categories of cheese:
- Fresh (Soft, non-aged cheeses which are often spreadable)
- Bleu (Very salty cheeses with veins of blue running through them)
- Hard (Most are aged and salty, and sometimes sharp)
- Bloomy (A soft rind is common, as is creaminess)
Fresh cheeses, such as goat, burrata, feta, and mozzarella go well with white wines such as sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, and chenin blanc.
The sweet whites riesling and sauternes pair well with bleu cheese, as does a rich red port.
Hard, sharp cheeses, such as cheddar, gouda and parmesan taste great when accompanied by a smooth red wine such as chianti, merlot, or cabernet sauvignon.
And finally, the lightest of the lights pair well with bloomy cheeses. Try champagne with camembert cheese, or chardonnay with brie. You will not be disappointed!
Plan Your Party
If you have decided that a wine and cheese party is something you are interested in hosting, here are some great tips:
- Plan to serve all four of the above types of cheese (at least), and an accompanying wine.
- Ask each individual or couple to bring a cheese and wine pairing to your party. In the interest of ensuring that all of the cheese categories are covered, assign each invitee a category of cheese (hard, bloomy, bleu, or fresh). If your friends are unsure of a wine pairing, feel free to give them some ideas!
- Since you are hosting the party, it is your job to provide a variety of breads and crackers, fruits, olives, nuts, and condiments. Fruit ideas include red or green grapes and sliced apples or pears. As far as olives–you can oftentimes purchase mixed gourmet olives from your grocer's deli buffet. Great choices for nuts include almonds, walnuts or pecans. Condiments could include a spicy mustard, your favorite chutney, and high-quality jam.
- A very large wooden cutting board makes a great serving tray for the cheeses, crackers and bread, fruits, olives, nuts and condiments.
- Provide toothpicks to your guests for sanitary sampling.
- A large pitcher of water and a very pretty opaque vase could function as a wine glass-cleaning station for your guests, so they can swirl water and clean their wine glasses between different types of wine, disposing of the used water in the vase.
- Create some labels to identify the cheeses you are serving with each particular wine.
- Have fun!!
Enjoy the Experience
Wine and cheese are wonderful when paired together and can be enjoyed by everyone. The taste experience is exciting, and a great way to share an entertaining evening with friends.
If you and your guests are really into wine and cheese tasting, it can be fun to hand out small paper tablets and pens or pencils at the beginning of the party so your guests can take notes. Oftentimes, people enjoy jotting down the nuances of each particular wine and cheese, and describing how they taste together so later on they can compare notes and discuss the event in detail.
The most important aspect of the party, however, is having a great time and enjoying the party and your guests. Sampling fine wines and delicious cheeses all evening makes for some wonderful memories!
Below is a fabulous recipe you can prepare which will wow your guests:
Brie en Croute:
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp chopped pecans
- 2 tbsp orange marmalade
- 1 round brie cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Beat egg in a small bowl.
- Unfold the thawed pastry sheet onto a floured counter. Roll the pastry until it is approximately 14" x 14", then place onto a baking sheet. Place circle of brie cheese in the center of the pastry.
- In a bowl, mix brown sugar, pecans, and orange marmalade until well blended. Spread mixture onto the top of the cheese round.
- Using your fingers or a brush, wet the outside 1-inch edge with beaten egg. Then, fold all of the corners neatly onto the top of the cheese round, forming a "beggar's purse" shape. Pinch seams together to seal.
- Brush the entire outside of the pastry with egg mixture. Transfer baking sheet to the oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is browned. Let the Brie en Croute rest for at least 20 minutes before serving with crackers.