Great Ideas to Have a Bright and Cheerful Wine and Cheese Party

Wine and Cheese Party Ideas
If you're looking for party ideas, but are dreading the work that goes into the planning and preparation, a wine and cheese party is the best option for you.
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 some tips below, to help you put together a great party.

Invitations

Depending on how formal you plan to keep your event, party invitations will vary. If you're happy with a casual affair, you can just make a phone call to invite your guests.

For a more formal occasion, choose an invitation card and hand write the details of the event yourself (you can also get these printed). Do ensure that you invite your guests well in advance (10 days in advance is a good bet) so that they can keep their schedule clear.

You could also send a text message reminder or an email a day or two before the event, so that you have a clear head count. Very often guests will ask you if they can bring something along. 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.

Menu

You could choose to keep the menu restricted to just wine and paired cheese, but it sometimes helps to have some additional items to cater to everyone's likes.

Crackers: Choose plain crackers of a good variety, to help clear the palate in between different tastings. Sticking with the unflavored variety will also ensure that you don't mistakenly overpower the cheese or create an unfortunate blend of flavors.

Fruits: The obvious choice that your mind will conjure up is grapes, but you could also try figs, apricots and apples. Cut fruits as close to serving time as possible, and place them in dishes that you can add to your cheese board with ease. Walnuts and hazelnuts are safe bets for a wine and cheese party.

Nuts:The best bets are walnuts and hazelnuts. You could also try almonds and unsalted pistachios.

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: 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.

Soft Cheeses: 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:
  • 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.
  • Use cheese boards or 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. It's also useful to use name cards to help your guests identify the cheeses; you could write down the wine pairing suggestions on the cards as well.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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