Welcome the summer season with a Wine & Cheese Party
It’s okay to learn hosting along the way.
Of course, it was amazing and we lingered over each morsel as wine flowed and glasses met in agreement.
Wine and Cheese Parties Stir Conversation and Exploration.
“Oh, you have to try this sausage with that mustard.” Or, “I love this wine paired with that cheese.”
There was lots of Mmm to go around as we shared favorite pairings, making mental notes for future feasting.
Create an invitation for a casual party.
For our next party we took a more casual approach, popping a cork to celebrate the arrival of warmth and sunshine.
A copy of the email we sent out just days before … spontaneity is a good thing.
Hey friends,It is supposed to be a beautiful weekend and our deck is aching to welcome friends around the table outside. We know this is short notice, but with a forecast of gorgeous and a looooong week of work, we would love to have you join us for a simple wine and cheese night on Saturday (this weekend) around 6:00 pm.The details:Bring whatever wine or non-wine you like, to share. As well as a hunk of cheese with bread or crackers you would ordinarily have with it. (Really, bring anything that sounds good to you.) We will have a couple of wines, meats, and cheeses to share too. This is as casual as it gets. Just friends enjoying a lovely Colorado evening. Let me know if you can make it.Here’s to summer!
Pairing the wine and cheese isn’t as important as you think.
7 Tips for Hosting a Wine & Cheese Party
1. Bless, rather than impress.
Chances are good your friends will already be impressed you’re even planning a wine and cheese party and pleased to be on the invite list.
Keep it simple and sane for everyone’s sake so you can all relax and enjoy.
With specialized diets and allergies popping up everywhere, so ask a few questions in advance. The last thing you want to do is knock yourself out on a beautiful bread basket only to find out half the people coming can’t have gluten.
Choose one favorite item for each guest to have on the table with special consideration for allergies.
If I know a friend likes spicy food, I’ll go for a sample of spicier sausage. Someone else likes candies pecans, I include those too.
2. Select a maximum of 6 types of cheese.
Six types of cheese provides a nice variety of soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, firm, aged, and milk types (cow, sheep, goat). If you’re not already familiar with the various types, don’t hesitate to ask for a sample before you buy.
For a list of cheese by type, texture, color, milk, or country, as well as buying and storing guides, check out Cheese.com.
3. How much cheese to buy?
Don’t overdo (like I did) and end up with cheese-for-days. But how do you know how much cheese to buy?
What else will be served? If there is an assortment of nibbles on the table like olives, bread, crackers, nuts, vegetables, and meat, figure about 1/2 ounce per person, per cheese.
If guests are encouraged to bring food items, give direction as to whether it needs to be prepped before they arrive.
4. Ask guests to bring their favorite wine or non-wine beverage to share (no matter what it is).
It’s important to reassure guests there is no pressure to bring something unique or exotic. This guarantees everyone will be happily sipping at some point.
Ask where they first discovered it and why they like it, sometimes the story is better than the wine.
As the host, provide one white and one red per 6 people, as well as having a couple in reserve.
If you are providing all the wine, plan 1/2 bottle per person, plus 2 extra.
5. Set the table with three glasses per person.
1 for white wine, 1 for red wine, and 1 for water. Take care to pour a small amount for a first taste.
Once a guest indicates it is wine they like, offer more. (You shouldn’t need a dump bucket unless you are hosting a wine tasting. See #6 for more on that.)
If you don’t have enough glasses, consider borrowing rather than buying for one event, and don’t worry about everything matching.
Store a couple of bottles of sparkling cider in the fridge for anyone abstaining or done with wine. Pear is a popular stand-in for white wine and cherry is a pleasing substitution for red.
6. Don’t try to be a wine expert if you’re not.
Your guests will feel more comfortable exploring flavors and sharing if the experience is authentic. Trying too hard can come off as pretentious.
However, learning about wine tasting together can be loads of fun. Whether following an on-line guide for a DIY wine tasting or hiring a sommelier for the evening, a wine tasting is great when guests are not well acquainted.
Food & Wine and Epicurious both offer guides for organizing a more educational affair.
7. Plan a dish or wine to highlight.
Spend a little more on a particular vintage or choose a recipe that stands out. Once we made mussels in a white wine, another time we served shrimp cocktail as the centerpiece for the table.
I don’t mention specific wine recommendations because I don’t want you to get caught up there.
There are loads of resources for suggesting wines and it would be worth your time to spend about 10 minutes checking them out.
However, in an interview with New York City restaurateur, Danny Meyer, in the July issue of Food & Wine, he was asked what was the most extraordinary wine he’d ever tasted.
I loved his response:
“I think it’s dangerous to expect wines to be extraordinary! The best bottle you’ve ever had in your life could be a simple Pigato, if you’re sitting in the right spot on the coast of Liguria, eating the right fried little fish, with the right person. That could be the perfect wine, because context is just as important and anything.”
My favorite tool for planning such festivities—a cheat sheet for shopping!
=> Click on the photo of the list to DOWNLOAD OR PRINT.
More party menu ideas:
Shrimp & Prosciutto with Smoky Honey-Mustard Sauce
Easy Crab Legs
Bacon Wrapped Dates with Herbed Goat Cheese
Pear and Goat Cheese Appetizer
Prosciutto Wrapped Caprese Salad
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
Date Fudge Truffles with Sea Salt
Double Chocolate Truffles
Julie Martin Lanham says
Hi, a little late to the party but this article is just what I needed! I’m hosting an informal wine tasting afternoon with friends tomorrow and have been pondering for a while what food to serve! Thank you, I will continue to follow and look forward to more of your wonderful wisdom. Love Julie (from across the pond in a small village in Essex, England) xxx
Try authentic Italian Taralli.at the next party. Taralli pair nicely with fortified wines like sherry, they also pair well with champagne, rose and white wines as long as they are not bone-dry.
I needed this – planning a wine and cheese gathering
Thank you for the information!
Our church is going to have a wine and cheese event for the first time and I was trying to figure out how to do it. Your information is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so very very much
Judy Purcell says
Hi Cas, I’m so glad you found the information you needed! I hope your event is a great success. 🙂
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says
Those photos have me swooning and wishing I could go to or host a wine and cheese party tonight!
April J Harris says
What a lovely tradition, Judy! Wine and cheese is such a wonderful way to celebrate and connect. Thank you for sharing your tips with us at the Hearth and Soul hop. Pinned and tweeting 🙂
Thanks for this wonderful tips specially the cheese, we sometime have twice the amount of cheese you mentioned
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
Great tips and I know that everyone had to enjoy your casual get together. I can also see why last year’s event may have been a little over the top…you had so much to celebrate and be thankful for. Sharing that with your friends…as they say “priceless”!
Judy Purcell says
Oh,Karen, you are quite right, there was and is so much to celebrate and be thankful for. 🙂
WOW! What a spread!! I want to come to one of your wine and cheese parties. Great tips! Thanks for sharing!
Judy Purcell says
Thanks MJ, I’d love to have you around our table! Let me know if you’re ever up this way and we’ll put one on. 🙂
John@Kitchen Riffs says
Sounds like a fun time! And great tips. We haven’t had a wine and cheese party for ages, although sometimes we’ll get together with our next door neighbors for spur of the moment wine and cheese (OK, more than sometimes!). Fun post — thanks.
Judy Purcell says
Spur of the moment wine and cheese totally works! More often the better. 🙂
How I would love to join you for one of your Cheese and Wine evenings! I will bring a couple of bottles of our lovely South African wine.
Have a splendid weekend.
🙂 Mandy xo
Judy Purcell says
Hi Mandy! Just let me know when you’re in our neck of the woods and we’ll set one up! Your South African wine will be the first bottle we open. 🙂 Happy weekend!
Thank you is just a start and thank you will always be in my heart and on my mind when I have thoughts of you. You life coach savoring moments and celebrating life. LaChaim dear friend with thanks and blessings!!
Judy Purcell says
Oh Mary, what a blessing you are to me! (hugs)