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Red Wine and Cheese Party Ideas Will Help Make Your Next Party a Blissful Gastronomic Experience Bordering on the Divine.
In Red Wine and Cheese Party Ideas I’m going to be discussing some of the important elements that go towards making a party special. Everything from the color and kind of glasses you use right on through to the activities you can hold. Your party will be a glorious matrimony of cheese and wine made in heaven!
At my last party I put colored flutes in a semi-circle on the dining room table. Guests brought their own bottle of wine while I treated everyone to different kinds of cheese. Each platter of cheese had the name of the cheese next to it and a corresponding number. There were also a few different kinds of crackers to go with the cheese as well as bread and fruit like grapes and strawberries. I gave everyone a piece of paper with a brief history of a nameless cheese and it’s description. Next to each one was a blank line. Their fun exercise was to go around tasting the cheese and writing the correct number next to the description on the piece of paper. We then went over them as a group and I had my friends take turns at providing the answers.
I could have taken this further. After everyone has done the exercise I could of had a cheese tasting competition. Three guests sit back-to-back blindfolded. They eat three small pieces of cheese and guess what each one is. Award a prize if you like to the one who got the most right.
Another great idea for a wine and cheese party is to take a piece of chalkboard poster paper and using a chalk draw a shape around the bottle of wine with an arrow pointing to the kind of cheese it goes well with. Bonus points for the host who can impress his or her guests by talking intelligently about the combinations or have a friend who is a wine connoisseur or a sommelier (wine waiter) at a restaurant do a short presentation on wine and cheese pairings that are guaranteed to dazzle the palette.
A wine and cheese event can easily go for a few hours whereas a modest selection of cheese can vanish within 30 minutes. It’s best therefore to include other foods that compliment the wine and cheese tasting experience so nobody goes hungry.
For the ultimate party have wines that cover a number of bases. Dry and fruity reds like merlot, pinot noir, zinfandel and rose. Dry and sweet white wines such as pinot grigio, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. You might even want a sparkling wine like Champagne or Prosecco to liven things up a little.
On your next trip to the local deli peer into the window of the refrigerated cheese section for a glimpse of paradise. You’ll see a wide variety of cheese to choose from.
Mild & Soft Cheese
Brie, Landana Mild Goat Cheese and Camembert.
Provolone, Fontina or Saint-Nectaire.
Parmesan, Gouda and Cheddar.
Langres, Livarot and Stilton.
I’ve heard it said that white wines pair best with stronger flavored cheese and soft cheeses. Red wines pair better with harder cheeses and mild flavored cheese. Sparkling wines go with mild, buttery triple-cream cheeses. That’s definitely something to investigate!
Check out Natalie Maclean’s site. She is an accredited sommelier who has a lot of information on wine and cheese pairings.
Bread & Crackers
Keep the spotlight on the wine and cheese. It’s preferable that crackers and bread showcase the wine and cheese rather than steal some of the limelight away from them because they are exotic and strong flavored. I’d make an exception though for raisin-walnut bread and apricot bread!
While I prefer to just cut up a baguette into slices you can also brush on some olive oil and toast them.
Fruit & Vegetables
Besides grapes and strawberries other good choices are sliced apples and pears, blueberries, figs and dried fruit like nectarines, peaches, apricots and sun-dried tomatoes. Vegetables like broccoli heads, celery sticks, carrots and cauliflower are also a good idea. These kinds of food are palate cleansers that help refresh the taste buds and allow guests to enjoy the difference kinds of wine and cheese. Provide a pitcher of water for your guests as well.
As for grapes it’s best to break up a bunch of them into small easy-to-grab clusters. Another reason for this is aesthetics. A big bunch of grapes that has had half of it’s grapes picked off looks a little unsightly.
Finely sliced prosciutto or spicy salami.
Have a nice slate, cutting board or platters to display the food on.
If you are a wine drinker start collecting your corks. They can be placed in a vase or a large wine glass for decor purposes. Alternatively, email your closest friends asking them to save up their corks or the next time you’re out at a restaurant or wine bar ask them if they have any corks they could give you.
Sipping on red wine for a few hours can not only dull the palette but be too excessive for some. Some of the guests I’ve had in the past weren’t really into red wine. For these two reasons have other drinks available like coffee, tea, juice, water and soft drinks.
Further Tips for Hosting Your Own Red Wine & Cheese Party
* At least an hour before the party take the cheese out of the refrigerator. Cheese has it’s fullest flavor when it’s at room temperature.
* Chill the wine.
* If it’s a large party it may be best to have two tables for the wine and cheese so guests don’t crowd around the one table.
* Don’t put all the cheeses together as the odors and flavors may start to blend together.
* So as not to overwhelm the palate stick to no more than five different kinds of cheese.
* Some hosts will have some tangy stewed fruit (chutney) in flavors like fig, apple-cranberry or sour cherry to go with pungent cheeses.
* Honey can be served to help offset the strong taste of certain kinds of cheese like blue cheese. You might like to experiment with different kinds of honey.
* I find that if nearly everyone brings a bottle of wine there tends to be a lot of wine left over. Certainly not a bad thing but if it’s a large party I’d prefer half of my friends bringing cheese and the other half a bottle of wine. Four bottles of wine is probably just about right for a dozen people.
Have a listen to Melissa Stackhouse from La Crema Wines. She gives some solid advice concerning wine and cheese parties including what wines and cheese to pair together.
A wine and cheese party is one of my favorite events and I sometimes combine it with another event like a comedy party or a movie night.
If you are going to host another wine and cheese party with the same group of friends go on another sensory expedition exploring new varieties of wine and cheese and find that ultimate combo! At my next party I will focus on wines and cheese produced in France and show a video on how one of them is made.
If you have any ideas to add to ‘Glorious Red Wine and Cheese Party Ideas’ please share them in the comment box below.
My thanks to the following sites that helped supplement my own ideas on the topic.
By Jackie Fo
Fifty Shades of Grey Holiday Mixed Pack, 2 x 750 mL
Nibbler Crate by Wisconsin Cheese Mart