If you love to eat and entertain in equal measure, a wine and cheese party is the perfect opportunity to play hostess. On Saturday I wrote a guest post for the ladies at Big Girls Small Kitchen about how to host the perfect wine and cheese party. For those of you who didn’t see it, I wanted to share some of my tips here for anyone who wants to get their wine and cheese on this weekend.
If you’re serving wine, you’ll want to offer more than a few slices of cheese to sustain your guests through a night of Chardonnay-sipping. Serve finger foods and hors d’oeuvres that are fast, easy to prepare and won’t overwhelm your wine pairings.
Plan Ahead. When you’re planning on expanding your menu beyond wine and cheese, you’d probably rather spend your party sipping Sauvignon Blanc than sweating it out in the kitchen. To minimize stress, do the prep work ahead of time whenever possible. Decide if you’re going to plan your menu around the wines or the cheese. If the focus is the wine, choose wines first and pick the cheese and other dishes accordingly. If you’d rather emphasize the cheese, pick a few varieties to serve and pair them with appropriate wines.
Select the Cheese. When selecting cheese for a formal tasting, keep in mind that variety is key. Cheeses are typically categorized by type of milk: cow’s milk, sheep’s milk and goat’s milk. The different styles of cheese depend on a few factors: rind, color, and texture. Select a variety of cheeses and begin your tasting with the mildest cheese, such as a light, tangy chevre and progress to the sharpest or strongest cheese, like a full, ripe blue cheese.
When I buy cheese for parties, I typically buy 2-3 ounces of cheese per person, but if you aren’t serving much additional food, you might want to err on the side of caution and buy more than you think you need (and can you ever really have too much cheese? I think not).
Serve Your Cheese. Contrary to common belief, most cheeses are best at room temperature. Place your cheeses out up to three hours before your party and unwrap them to allow the flavors to full develop.
One of the easiest ways to decorate for a wine and cheese party is with the cheese itself. My favorite way to showcase cheese is on a simple wooden cutting board for a rustic look. Bonus: it cuts down on the amount of post-party dishes that you’ll have to do.
The Wine & Cheese Party Menu:
Fresh chevre with 2009 A to Z Sangiovese Rosé
Manchego Cheese with The Naked Grape Pinot Grigio or Nine Walks Sauvignon Blanc
Aged Gouda with Jacob’s Creek Pinot Noir
Parmigiano-Reggiano with Old Vine Red Zinfandel