My wife and I love to host wine and cheese parties. They are simple and elegant and you don’t have to put a lot of effort and time into it.Tyler Florence
Remember in the movie “Ratatouille,” when Remy courageously paired a strawberry with a piece of cheese? Now, not everyone would think that would be a smart match, just like his friend Emile; however, it turned into something that set off fireworks in his taste buds.
Likewise, when I think of a perfect pairing that makes sparks fly, I keep it simple too. A cheese board and a glass of wine is an irresistible appetizer or snack when hosting a group of friends and family. There’s a reason it is a long-standing tradition. Like Tyler Florence said, it is both easy and classy. You just can’t beat a match made in heaven.
Wine and cheese parties are among the most fun events with friends. These gatherings can be dolled-up or dressed down and casual. Regardless of your vision, wine and cheese give people a little something comforting to hold in their hands, and sip and nibble, while they mix and mingle. And it’s a fun time to sample some new ingredients.
Some thoughtful ideas when hosting a wine and cheese party:
- Cheese Selections: Select your cheeses from a cheesemonger or the gourmet cheese section of a store like Whole Foods. A good rule of thumb is to have: one hard or aged cheese, one blue cheese, and one soft cheese. Add a couple of more into the mix depending upon your number of guests and/or if this is the only food being served.
- Wine Selections: Generally, a store like Whole Foods will have a wine consultant who can guide you. You can also stop by your favorite wine store and ask them for some suggestions once you know the cheeses you’ll be serving. Below, we’re providing some pairing suggestions we hope you will enjoy!
- Board Presentation: Service from a large board/platter is not only eye-catching, it is a simple way to showcase the cheeses. Label the cheeses with some stylish porcelain cheese markers, along with cheese knives, and designated wine glasses for each if your pours.
- Individual Plate Presentation: If you and your guests are having a serious tasting party, then there’s no better way than to individually plate the cheeses and accompaniments with a separate glass for each wine, and course your tasting like a fine meal. Download some wine and cheese tasting cards from Etsy, vote on your favorites and compare notes at the end of the evening. I promise it’ll be a party they’ll love and remember!
Keep in mind that not every cheese and every wine will be an ideal match. And, of course, everyone has their favorite cheese pairings and/or wine varietals they enjoy. The beauty is to try different combinations and experiment.
These are some of my favorite combinations of wine and cheeses and maybe they’ll just be some of your favorite pairs after you try them together too! Let’s get the party—and the fireworks—started!
Triple Cream Cheese: Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam
Wine Pairing: 2018 Domaine William Fevre Chablis; Cost: $29.99
Menu Pairings: Thinly sliced on top of a butter lettuce salad with strawberries and walnuts. Or a crispy baguette, peach preserves, and Marcona almonds.
What makes a triple cream cheese? It must have 75% or more butterfat in the dry matter that makes up the cheese. Imagine your favorite brie, then you raise that up a few notches. Cowgirl Creamery, in California’s Marin County, produces some great cheese! One of my favorites is their Mt. Tam. If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing cheese, look no further than this one. Made from fresh organic milk, this is a luscious and elegant triple cream, and one of the first cheeses made by this female cheesemaking duo. The flavors of cultured butter with a hint of white mushrooms make it a simple cheese to love and devour.
– If you want to venture out and try a French wine, this Chablis is one to try. You can procure it easily through this link.
– 91 points from Wine Spectator.
– Elegant bouquet of citrus, white fruits and flowers. The taste continues with the taste of peaches, melons, limes.
– Perfect for a warm summer day.
Here’s an award-winning goat cheese from Humboldt County, California produced by Mary Keehn. This cheese is also easy to consume and will likely appeal to a number of your guests. It’s lightly aged, and each handcrafted wheel features a distinctive ribbon of edible vegetable ash running through the middle of it. As it ages, the flavor intensifies. When you taste it alone, you’ll find notes of herbs, florals and a hint of citrus.
– Refreshing and crisp, this is a Sauvignon Blanc that everyone will enjoy.
– On the palate, you’ll taste grapefruit, pear, melon.
Washed-Rind Cheese: Berhault Epoisses
Wine Pairing: 2017 Resonance (Louis Jadot) Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley; Cost: $35.00
Menu Pairing: A slice of baguette; keep it simple with this one.
Epoisses is one of those cheese experiences that truly tastes like a decadent indulgence. Of the washed-rind variety of cheeses, this is one that will tantalize your nose as well. It is so creamy that it is generally served from a wooden box to protect its delicate nature. It has been produced in the Burgundy region of France since the 1500s and was a favorite of Napoleon’s, who dubbed it “The King of All Cheeses.” Try this one as a standalone cheese following a good meal; it’s a perfect dessert.
– Oregon Pinot Noir’s are among my favorites, and this Resonance is lovely and luscious. It’s a very elegant wine that supports this beautiful cheese.
– This is one of the closest you can get to a French Red Burgundy here in the United States; the winemakers are from Maison Louis Jadot in France.
– Rated 93 from Wine Spectator
– The nose is very fresh and fruity with lot of red strawberry and raspberry and spicy aromas. You may taste dark cherry and black tea flavors, and finishing with subtle tannins.
Blue Cheese: Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Point Reyes Station, CA
Wine Pairing: Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port, Cost: $29.99
Menu Pairings: Add as a topping to a green salad wedge, burger or steak or incorporate into a pasta or salad dressing. Here’s a recipe to Point Reyes famous blue cheese vinaigrette.
Founded in 2000 by four sisters, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. is an award-winning female-owned artisan cheese company. Their land near Tomales Bay has been in the family since the 1950’s, producing high-quality milk. It is still used today as a dairy farm and cheese-making facility. Their Original Blue was their first foray into the cheese world, and now they have ten delectable stars in their portfolio. This blue is made from non-pasteurized, hormone-free milk and is aged for 3.5 months. Try this creamy, peppery cheese alone and paired with the Port. You may never look at blue cheese the same.
– Graham’s was founded in 1820 in Portugal’s Douro Valley, and sits among the country’s elite Port houses. The 10-year has a deep tawny color and profile, but retains still retains a hint of fresh fruit at its modest age. Nuts and figs grace the nose and palate.
– Rated 92 from Wine Spectator
Hard Cheese: Clothbound Cheddar, Grafton Village Cheese Company, Vermont
Wine Pairing: 2016 Whitehall Lane Merlot, Napa Valley; Cost: $34.00
Menu Pairings: Serve with a selection of cured meats, pickles, or spicy tomato chutney.
Vermont & Cheddar are almost synonymous with each other. Grafton Village Cheese Company, founded in 1892, is one of the premier cheesemakers in the state, producing handmade, raw milk cheeses with premium hormone-free milk collected from small family farms. Their Clothbound Cheddar, made with unpasteurized cow’s milk, is created in the British tradition of aging cheese in cloth in their caves for a minimum of six months. Don’t be off-put by the gray exterior; the texture and flavor is complex and not your everyday cheddar. This cheese is more crumbly than other cheddars, and has hints of mushrooms, lemons and nuts.
– Highly rated: 91 from Wine Enthusiast, 90 from Wine Spectator
– 86& Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot
– On the palate, this Merlot has fine, firm tannins alongside red currants, strawberry rhubarb pie, raspberry coulis, toasted walnuts, leather and spice.