The weather is cold and nothing feels better than to snuggle up in front of the fireplace and enjoy a nice glass of wine with a wide variety of cheese. We have everything you need to plan an amazing evening!
How to prep
Decide how many guests you want to invite and prepare invitations. Once invitations have been received and guests have RSVP’d, shop for your stemware and cheese plates. What you’ll need for a party of 12 guests:
- At least 20 wine glasses (to allow for any extra guests who come, any breaks and anyone who’d prefer a different glass for white and red)
- Wooden cheese boards with knife sets (not absolutely necessary)
- Cheese and wine tasting labels
Although this party is primarily focused on wine and cheese, it’s important to also pick up palate cleansers, like fresh fruit, vegetables and water, so that guests can truly enjoy the differences in each sip and bite. Here’s a sample shopping menu that’s full of great variety and bargain cheese and wine as well:
- Bunches of fresh strawberries, grapes, blueberries, melons and apples
- An array of fresh vegetables, like broccoli heads, celery sticks, carrots and cauliflower
- A few meats, like prosciutto or spicy salami
- Blue or Gorgonzola cheeses
- Semi firm cheeses, such as cheddar, fontina or Saint-Nectaire
- A super-aged cheese, like Parmesan or Gouda
- A very pungent (“stinky” cheese like Langres or Livarot
- A mild and soft cheese, like Brie, goat cheese and Camembert
- A variety of dry and fruity reds, like merlot, pinot noir, zinfandel and rose
- A variety of dry and sweet whites, like pinot grigio, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc
- One or two bottles of sparkling wines, like Champagne or Prosecco
For each cheese, you’ll want to buy at least one ounce per person. For beginner parties, limit yourself to three to five cheeses and four to six wines, so as not to overwhelm the palate (and the guests).
Pairing Cheese and wine
- Serve unoaked or lightly oaked white wines such as pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, riesling and chardonnay and light-style red wines such as pinot noir, with lighter cheeses such as goat cheese, feta, Monterey Jack, Colby, young cheddar and Jarlsberg. (Remember: heavily oaked wines such as a full-bodied chardonnay or big red wines will not work with these cheeses).
- Serve bigger-style red wines such as some pinot noirs, merlot, Spanish tempranillo and some cabernet sauvignons (as long as they’re not TOO brawny) with semi-hard cheeses including farmhouse cheddars, Dry Monterey Jack, Manchego and gouda.
- Serve sweet wines like Port, Sherry and Madeira with salty and/or strong cheeses such as Roquefort, Stilton and other blue cheeses or pungent cheeses like Alsatian Munster, French Epoisses or Italian Taleggio.
- If you’d like just one wine to go with a variety of cheeses, then select either riesling or an unoaked or very lightly oaked chardonnay for a white wine and a light- to medium-bodied pinot noir as your red wine.
Helwi El Hayet
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