The best part about such a party is that it allows you to prepare almost everything in advance. This leaves you free to socialize and actually enjoy yourself, instead of worrying about serving up a suitable five course meal.
Planning the affair in advance helps you stay organized and avoid last minute panic attacks. If you'd like to know how to throw a wine and cheese party, take a look at following tips, to help you put together a great party.
While you can always refuse gifts as a well-mannered host, if it's a casual affair, it's perfectly acceptable for you to discuss your ideas, with your guests and ask each to bring along a bottle of wine or two.
Food and Wine Pairing
The most important part, is of course the wine and cheese and serving it right. If you're nervous about your selection, or unsure about how to choose, a safe bet is to choose wines from a particular country and pair them with cheeses that are more or less from the same region - for example French wine with French cheese.
Hard cheeses are generally strong in flavor and pair well with medium and full bodied reds, so try these with a Pinot noir, Cote Du Rhone, Shiraz, Barolo, or Cabernet. If you're partial to white wine you can also try a Chardonnay, or a Chenin Blanc. Blue, Gruyère, Emmenthal, Wensleydale, aged Cheddar, Derby and Parmigiano are examples of hard cheeses.
Semi Hard Cheeses
These generally pair with medium bodied wines - try a Chianti, Cabernet, Riesling or a Tawny Port. Some examples of semi hard cheeses are: Gouda, Roquefort, Danish Blue, Cheshire, and Cheddar.
These pair well with young, light and fruity wines, try a Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc or a Champagne. For light reds, try Beaujolais or even a Sangria.
Semi Soft Cheeses
Pair with Riesling, Chardonnay, Champagne, Bordeaux and Beaujolais. Some semi soft cheeses are Baby Swiss, Havarti, Brie and Camembert.
Finally, the following are a few points that you should keep in mind for your wine and cheese party
1. Both wines and cheese need to be served at the right temperature, so keep the reds at room temperature (18 ºC-22 ºC) and the whites chilled (8 ºC-12ºC). Remove the whites from the chiller an hour or two before you serve them though, excessive cold can mar the bouquet and dull the flavor.
Open the aged reds at least thirty to forty minutes in advance to allow sufficient breathing time. Although cheeses also require refrigeration, serving them too cold will dull the flavors. Take the cheese out of the fridge an hour before serving.
2. Use cheese platters and group similar cheeses together. Add some fruits and nuts to each platter of cheese to add color. Place a cheese knife on each board to enable guests to help themselves. Use name cards to help your guests identify the cheeses and write down the wine pairing suggestions as well.
3. Check your party supplies well in advance to avoid last minute runs to the store. Account for enough wine glasses and platters for cheese, as well as bowls or dishes for fruit and side plates and cutlery for each guest.
4. For a formal affair, choose color coordinated table linen, crystal glassware, and your best silverware. Keep lighting muted and use elegant centerpieces or place several candles to add atmosphere. For a casual party, keep it bright and cheerful, and pick lively music to add some fun.