Host a Wine and Cheese Party

Entertaining, Food, Home, Menus
wine and cheese party
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wine and cheese party

Photo: Leigh Loftus

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.

wine and cheese party

Photo: Leigh Loftus

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

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78 Comments

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Karriann Graf
    September 9, 2011 at 8:46 am

    What a great guide! Happy Entertaining!

  • Reply
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking
    August 30, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I’m thinking of starting a neighborhood cooking club in my community and this would be a great idea for one of the theme nights! What a great post and interesting ideas… plus, I could always use an excuse to pop a bottle of Prosecco, hah! Thanks for sharing and inspiring me with something new, Maris.

  • Reply
    Jenny at Baking Devils
    August 30, 2011 at 4:53 am

    What a fabulous idea for a party. I shall plan this for one evening when I have my girlfriends over for a relaxing spa evening! Thanks this is perfect! Jenny

  • Reply
    Shilpa
    August 29, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    That’s a beautiful and very informative post. I am not big on cheese as it doesn’t agree with my digestion at most times 🙂 but am still going to bookmark this for future dinner parties – great info. thank you.

    -Shilpa

  • Reply
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen
    August 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    My favorite kind of party, great tips!

  • Reply
    Dana
    August 29, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! I’m pretty sure I could live off of wine and cheese, so this sounds like the perfect type of party for me!

  • Reply
    Katie@Cozydelicious
    August 29, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Such great tips! Wine and cheese parties are such fun, and I love your pairings. I have to make those parmesan almonds!

  • Reply
    Juliana
    August 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Great tips Maris…wine and cheese party…sure one of my favorite kind of party 🙂
    Hope you have a fantastic week ahead 🙂

  • Reply
    Sippitysup
    August 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Two of my favorites join together for a fantastic evening. I love you wine and cheese (is bread invited too?) GREG

  • Reply
    Tanvi@SinfullySpicy
    August 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    I dont remember holding a cheese & wine party but have been to one..its so much fun..thoroughly enjoyed your post..always nice to learn something new.

  • Reply
    Kate
    August 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Yum! I love wine and cheese too. I love eveyr type of cheese and seem to never tire of it!

  • Reply
    Nadia
    August 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    My favorite kind of party! However, it’s also my vice, too, because I consume 5,000 calories of cheese. Great tips, I always leave the cheese out at room temp. 🙂

  • Reply
    Alexandra (Veggin' Out in the Kitchen)
    August 29, 2011 at 6:24 am

    You always have such great tips! Other than the fact that I’m a little too young for wine, a wine and cheese party sounds like so much fun! Maybe I could make it a cheese party 😉

    <3 <3

  • Reply
    Melissa@IWasBornToCook
    August 28, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    I love wine and cheese parties. Great tips!

  • Reply
    Maria @ Scandifoodie
    August 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I love love cheese and will keep these tips in mind for future – thanks!

  • Reply
    EA-The Spicy RD
    August 28, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Love your ideas Maris, and can’t wait to try some of your wine and cheese suggestions! Those goat cheese pistachio dates are calling my name too!!!

  • Reply
    Nutmeg Nanny
    August 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Great tips! I love throwing parties but rarely ever do. It makes it hard when we live so far away from all our friends.

  • Reply
    chopinandmysaucepan
    August 28, 2011 at 8:22 am

    I agree this is one of the easiest and most fun way to entertain friends! I would throw in a few sausage rolls and meat pies too 🙂

  • Reply
    Gina (The Candid RD)
    August 28, 2011 at 6:05 am

    What a great resource to have!! Thanks for this post!
    I have never thrown a wine and cheese party, but that doesn’t mean I Won’t ever 🙂 Great tips. I am also spoiled because I work with cheese mongers (spelling??) and wine experts, but still, this is super helpful.

  • Reply
    A Plum By Any Other Name
    August 27, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Maris, you always have great advice! I never though parmigiano reggiano would pair so well with cheeses but it’s one of my favorites. Glad to know it goes with red as well as it does with white! I had it with sparkling wine in Parma in Italy (I know … ) and I’ll never forget the “ah ha” moment I had. It was love at first sip.

  • Reply
    Heavenly Housewife
    August 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    A wine and cheese party is a great idea! At my house, I’d call it a “whine and cheese party” though LOL, cause thats the way this housewife rolls. I’m loving the sound of those pistachio and goat cheese dates, YUM!
    *kisses* HH

  • Reply
    Lisa
    August 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Maris, I love a cheese and wine party – in fact, it’s probably the only time I drik (barring social situations where I’m nervous and need to relax with a sippy or 20 lol. If I were to pick any wine and cheese soiree, it would be yours (warning, though..I bogart the blues cheeses:) On another note..yep, you and I go way back..2008 to be precise. I still have one of the sauces I won in one of your giveaways! LOL

  • Reply
    peachkins
    August 26, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    sounds great. I’m planning to have a cheese and wine mini-party soon and it’s my first time. This is a great help. Thanks Maris!

  • Reply
    newlywed
    August 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    You have the best entertaining tips! Keep em coming!

  • Reply
    Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious
    August 26, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    I LOOOOOOVE cheese and wine parties 🙂 Thanks for sharing your tips.

  • Reply
    Susan
    August 26, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    This is my favorite kind of entertaining! I’m going to check out that recipe for Parmesan Almonds…

  • Reply
    Sawsan@chef in disguise
    August 26, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I love your entertaining posts Maris..such great tips

  • Reply
    Kelly
    August 26, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I agree. Too much cheese is rarely a problem. I love this post since wine and cheese, especially together, are two of my favorite things. Great post as always Maris.

  • Reply
    Aparna E.
    August 26, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Awesome tips girl!! I did a wine tasting party theme for my sister’s bridal shower years ago. If I could do it all over again, I’d follow a lot of these tips!

  • Reply
    Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum
    August 26, 2011 at 8:11 am

    My coworker recently brought some semi-fancy cheeses to a lunch get together and it was so perfect. Just bread and cheese. That’s all we had for an “appetizer” and it was soo so good! Great post!

  • Reply
    vianney/sweetlife
    August 26, 2011 at 8:01 am

    great tips!! I love having wine and cheese parties, great excuse to try out new wines!!
    stopped by guest post!! great post!!

  • Reply
    Joanne
    August 26, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Too much cheese = so not a real thing. Not enough cheese – ALWAYS THE CASE. Fabulous post!

  • Reply
    Betty @ scrambled hen fruit
    August 26, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Wine and cheese is perfect for an impromptu get-together. Nice pairings!

  • Reply
    Bee
    August 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I love wine, I love cheese, I love food, I love friends. Now if I only had my own place, this would be something I’d do on the regular, haha.

  • Reply
    Courtney
    August 25, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    We do this quite a bit, though we call it “Stinky Cheese Night.” Such a fun way to spend an evening with friends.

  • Reply
    5 Star foodie
    August 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Excellent wine & cheese pairings and great tips!

  • Reply
    Kay
    August 25, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Yum love wine and cheese parties!

  • Reply
    velva
    August 25, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    This is very good advice for someone who wants to host a wine and cheese party. Great post.

    Velva

    P.S. I loved that you shared a photo of the blue cheese, I wish folks would not shy away from this fabulous cheese.

  • Reply
    katelin
    August 25, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    my party this weekend isn’t just wine and cheese but both will definitely be present. i seriously cannot wait to buy cheese, haha.

  • Reply
    Linda
    August 25, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I so agree this is the way to entertain! I love having guests bring a wine I have not tried, one they love and the conversation and fun just revolves all around the drinking and eating!!

  • Reply
    Caroline
    August 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Wine and cheese parties are my favorite kind. I probably have a few too many of these…if that’s possible? Ha! I agree, finger foods are perfect for these types of parties.

  • Reply
    kankana
    August 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I have never hosted party with wine and cheese. It would be a nice idea. I love drinking wine .. cooking with wine. One of my favorite pairing is Parmigiano-Reggiano with Old Vine Red Zinfandel

  • Reply
    Shari @ The Daily Dish
    August 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Yum! I love wine + cheese parties. They’re definitely my favorite.

  • Reply
    Delishhh
    August 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Love wine parties – we host one annually, but it is a wine tasting party. We usually have a theme for example Merlot and $15. You bring a box of your favorite Merlot for $15 and there are 12 couples. Each person goes around and tastes each bottle and then they are ranked. But the best part is that they get to go home with a box of 12 different merlots. It’s a blast.

  • Reply
    Claudia
    August 25, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I had to visit and oh my – this is the way to go – my favorite way to entertain. Small bites and beautiful pairings!

  • Reply
    emily (a nutritionist eats)
    August 25, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Literally my two favorite things. 🙂

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray
    August 25, 2011 at 10:02 am

    You make me want to throw a party….tonight! Want to come? 🙂

  • Reply
    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective
    August 25, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Such delicious fun! …until the next morning. 😉

  • Reply
    Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.
    August 25, 2011 at 8:36 am

    fun post! Can’t wait to check out some of these wines

  • Reply
    Rosa
    August 25, 2011 at 8:35 am

    I love cheese and eating them with some good bread for breakfast or dinner (a tradition here in Switzerland).

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • Reply
    Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking
    August 25, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Great tips, Maris!
    Wine + cheese + girlfriends = one GREAT evening!

  • Reply
    Marina
    August 25, 2011 at 6:17 am

    I love cheese 🙂 I would love to have a party like that.

  • Reply
    Sherilyn @ Wholepromise
    August 25, 2011 at 5:44 am

    Wonderful wonderful tips to turn anyone into a fabulous host or hostess! Great post as always.

  • Reply
    Angie@Angiesrecipes
    August 25, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Love wine tasting party!

  • Reply
    bellini
    August 25, 2011 at 4:26 am

    I have been considering a wine and cheese party so this comes at just the right moment.

  • Reply
    Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi
    August 24, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Wonderful tips (and totally agree that you can never have too much cheese). Always a welcome sight to see a cheese platter at a party.

  • Reply
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    August 24, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Great tips-who doesn’t love a nice wine and cheese party! 😀

  • Reply
    mandy
    August 24, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    I love wine and cheese parties. This summer there has been so much wine and cheese consumed its a bit ridiculous.

  • Reply
    Baking Serendipity
    August 24, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Wine and cheese is one of my favorite girls night centerpieces 🙂 I love this post!

  • Reply
    Greg
    August 24, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Awesome, awesome, awesome post. It’s like a bonus wine Wednesday. This is such a fun thing to do and if you read this, you can’t go wrong.

  • Reply
    Anne@frommysweetheart
    August 24, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Maris…this is such a wonderful post! I love all of your suggestions, but especially for the wine pairings! I am thinking of doing a post in the fall for a savory-sweet cheese board (cheese and fruits and nuts, etc)…..I may have to consult you before I do! LOVED this post! : )

  • Reply
    Blond Duck
    August 24, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    I am a cheese fiend.

  • Reply
    Vanessa
    August 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    A wonderful idea! I LOVE cheese.

  • Reply
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    August 24, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I love wine and cheese parties. I love all things wine and wine testing and tasting. So fun!

  • Reply
    juniakk @ mis pensamientos
    August 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    and i totally bought a wooden cheese board a month ago! good to know that they can be left out prior and they are best served at room temp!

  • Reply
    juniakk @ mis pensamientos
    August 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    wine and cheese party is always a hit. 😀 i wish i could still eat either/or!

  • Reply
    Kate (What Kate is Cooking)
    August 24, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    It’s seriously my dream to host a wine and cheese party! Or a nut butter party 🙂

  • Reply
    Roz
    August 24, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    This is great Maris. If we lived in the same city, you would SO be on the guest list for my wine and cheese parties!!! 🙂 Have a good Wed.

  • Reply
    Nami | Just One Cookbook
    August 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I always like your entertaining post. I’m not used to it and my husband is sometimes too easy going and he’s not too helpful when I ask “what do you think of this..and that…?” I don’t drink alcohol much, so it’s hard for me to prepare cheese which goes with specific wine. I can start off from this list. 🙂

  • Reply
    Liz
    August 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Oh, such great tips! This would be perfect for my book club. Off to look at some of your links~

  • Reply
    Lisa @ Tarte du Jour
    August 24, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Great tips Maris! I love a good wine and cheese party… simple but fun entertaining!

  • Reply
    Sue/the view from great island
    August 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    This is our favorite way to eat, we don’t even need a party. Your Pistachio Goat Cheese Dates will now be a part of our next wine and cheese night, great post!

  • Reply
    Sarah (everydaysapicnic)
    August 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I never used to be a big cheese fan, but as my tastes have matured I like it more and more, especially paired with some fruit.

  • Reply
    Alana D
    August 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Oooohhh I can’t wait to have one of these! thanx for the tips!

  • Reply
    Lauren@LittleYellowKitchen
    August 24, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I literally JUST stopped in the middle of Minnesota to get cheese (chocolate cheese and maple cheddar!) and I picked up some wine in Toronto that I’m dying to get into. This post was perrrrfect timing for the pairing that will take place at my campsite this evening! P.S. This road trip is keeping me from staying up to date on blogs but I’ve missed some awesome stuff on yours! Can’t wait to catch up on it all 🙂

  • Reply
    Erica
    August 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    So fun! I’m actually going to a wine party this weekend! I’m bringing two dishes!

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