Planning a Wine and Cheese Party
Looking for tips for hosting a wine and cheese party? Here’s Part 2 of 2 on the blog 10 Tips for Planning a Wine and Cheese Party.
I’ll continue with tip # 6. For tips 1-5, go to my prior blog post, 10 Tips for Planning a Wine and Cheese Party, Part 1
6. Pick a theme – Tie your cheese theme into your wine theme. So if you are serving Old World Wines vs. New World Wines, make your cheese board the same pairing Spain (old world) vs. New York (new world). Themes make it fun and easy to construct a cheese board. But do not offer so many selections that your cheese board becomes too crowded. Here are a few ideas.
a. Compare cheese produced by various states such as California vs. Wisconsin or pair East Coast (Vermont, New York) vs. West Coast (Oregon, Idaho). A Cabernet Sauvignon works nicely with blue cheese and cheddar.
b. Pair one nation against another – Italy vs. Spain. Sparkling wines, such as an Italian Processo pair exceptionally well with cheeses due to their ability to cut through the fat and cleanse the palette.
Helpful Hint #1 – Do not cut all the cheese in advance, as they will dry out. Simply start one cut using the plane and the blade in a couple of cheeses. Think about it like you would if cutting a cake. You wouldn’t start cutting pieces until it was time to eat right?
7. Make it fun. Label all but one of your cheeses. Then have a contest between your guests for guessing the identity of the one that is not labeled. They must guess what region, type and animal source of this one cheese. Then offer a small prize like a gift card to a local wine shop to the winner. If you have more than one winner, then make up a tiebreaker such as asking them to offer a wine pairing choice for this particular cheese.
8. People frequently serve red wines too warm and whites too cold and they make the same mistake with cheeses. Chill your red wine for about 30 minutes prior to serving and remove the white from the refrigerate 20 minutes before opening. Serve your cheeses at the correct temperature for optimal flavor. Cheese should be set out on the serving board at least one hour prior to your guests arriving.
9. Of course, you’ll need to serve the cheese with other foods. Try crusty bread, whole wheat crackers, and flat breads. Also, many people suffer from food allergies so provide gluten-free options such as bread made with almond flour or rice crackers. Since you will be serving wine, provide a meat option so your guests will have a protein available to help slow down the absorption of the alcohol.
10. Arrange your cheeses on the board, starting with soft cheeses and moving to harder cheeses. Primary placements can be 12, 3, 3 and 9 o’clock positions. Then add almonds, cashews, dried apricots and fresh fruits like apples and pears.
Helpful Hint #2 – Here are some guidelines to pull off an Old World vs. New World cheese showdown:
• Italy – Asiago – cow’s milk cheese, Gorgonzola-pungent blue cheese
• France – Valençay. This can be your “make a guess” cheese. It’s very unusual with ash on the outside, it’s shaped like a pyramid and you eat the rind
• Spain – Manchego, classic and delicious sheep’s milk cheese that’s been aged in caves for two months. It may also be called Queso Manchego
• Oregon – Fresh pasteurized goat cheese
• Vermont – Brie or Camembert triple cream which has a “bloomy rind” that ripens from the inside out. This cheese could steal the night.
• California – Cheddar Colby Colored Chipotle
11. This is a Bonus Tip. Have fun. Your cheese and wine party should be slightly educational so friends can add a new wine or cheese to their list of likes but more importantly, it should be a relaxing gathering for you and your friends to make long-lasting memories.
Helpful Hint #3: Short on cash? Your guests are more than willing to bring a bottle of wine to share so when they ask if they can bring something, allow them to do so. Some of the cheeses can get pricey so it’s better to have friends pitch in on the wine, than skimp on the cheese quality.
Now send that Evite and go shopping.
Tags: Food & Wine, Wine and Cheese Pairing