A cheese and wine pairing party can be an impressive feast and an easy way to feed a crowd. Match cheeses with curated food and drink pairings and let your guests go on their own tasting adventure.
Here are some helpful tips on how to plan the ultimate cheese and wine party, including how to make your own beautiful chalk table runner.
CHOOSING YOUR CHEESES
Choose anywhere from 2-5 cheeses. You want variety while being able to enjoy each one. Aim for a selection of:
- Soft (Chèvre, Brie)
- Semi-soft (Havarti, Blue)
- Semi-hard (Cheddar, Jarlsberg, Gouda)
- Hard (Parmesan, Gruyere)
Consider the type of milk the cheese is made from and opt for a selection from cow, goat, and sheep’s milk. For vegan cheese lovers, a soft nut cheese will pair similarly to Chèvre, and is a great conversation starter!
As an appetizer, plan on 2 ounces of cheese per person. As a main course, plan closer to 4 ounces per person. One ounce of cheese is the size of two dice, and there are 16 ounces in a pound.
Serve the cheese with some fresh bread like a sliced crusty baguette and your favorite crackers. There are many great gluten-free crackers these days, and are great to include.
Include accompaniments of fresh or dried fruit, nuts and pickles, as well as a spread (like a fruit preserve or honey) to add interest to your pairings:
- Brie | fresh fruit (berries, sliced stone fruit), sweet chili sauce, fruit preserve
- Chèvre | fresh fruit (berries, cherries, sliced stone fruit), honey, fruit preserve
- Gouda | fresh fruit (pears, apples, melons), mustard or apple jelly
- Blue | dried fruit (dates, cranberries), honey, fruit preserves
- Cheddar | mustard, fruit or savory preserves, pickles, buttery nuts
- Manchego | fresh fruit (figs, grapes), quince paste or onion jam, chocolate
- Gruyere | crisp fresh fruit (apples, pears), toasted nuts (walnuts), savory preserve (onion jam)
- Parmesan | mustard, fruit or savory preserves, pickles
SETTING THE TABLE
Plates, wooden boards, and slate boards are all great ways to serve your cheese. Arrange your cheeses from mild to strong, and give each cheese it’s own knife. You don’t want a nice mild Brie mingling with the strong blue cheese.
To create a ‘chalk board’ table runner you’ll need black construction paper and liquid chalk or gold pens. Write large headings for the wines and cheeses, and use arrows and notes to describe the flavor profiles and point to the best pairings. It can be helpful to map everything out first if you are planning multiple pairings, and will ease your day of party setup.
Cheeses pair really well with all sorts of beverages from wines, beers, and spirits. Feel free to choose your favorites! As inspiration, here are some of the classic pairings to try:
It’s always helpful to have an idea of how much you’ll need… these formulas provide a rough guide to help you decide. Of course, this will depend a lot on how much your guests like to drink! If you are buying from the liquor store you can often return un-opened bottles.
- 1/3 bottle of wine per person, per hour
- Twice as much red as white wine
- 1/6 750 ml bottle of Champaign for toasting, per person
- 2 bottles of beer per person, per hour
Remember to include some flavored water to hydrate, your guests will thank you for it in the morning!
Our wine & cheese party was a smashing success, and the best part is the principles can be scaled-down for a casual Friday get-together, or scaled-up for a full reception for 100+.
My favorite cheese pairing is brie with strawberries and spicy honey, with a glass of champagne. What are yours?
Share your tips on the perfect wine & cheese pairings or party planning essentials with us below.