Here is your guide to a perfectly imperfect, unpretentious and EASY Wine and Cheese Party.
You know I love to host epic yet breezy dinner parties, but sometimes it’s just great to throw a casual, fun, mingling kind of party, and a wine and cheese fits this perfectly.
So WHY host a Wine and Cheese Party?
Well first of all, you get to explore more wines…because yes….wine is good! I would drink it with breakfast if it was socially acceptable! (Bye-bye coffee…hello wine!).
It’s kind of adventurous and you get to explore and nom on cheese and all the delicious accompaniments
There is no cooking so it’s EASY, and can be prepped totally in advance.
It’s super simple to make it look gorgeous, and you can add your own beautiful sassy style or even change it up with the seasons.
Your friends will leave with their tummies filled and their spirits happier than when they came to your lovely soiree.
And here I’ll show you how EASY it really is.
There are a ton of so-called “right and wrong” ways to host a wine and cheese party…so they say, but to tell you the truth, it doesn’t have to be so complicated. And I’m here to tell you, no prior wine and cheese buying experience necessary.
So let’s do this!
The CHEESE please:
Choose 3-5 cheeses (pick from each of these categories and you will have a lovely range of flavors and textures)
Fresh: Mild slightly Tangy (Serve soft cheeses whole)
Mozzarella, Burrata, Chevre, Fresh Ricotta
Soft Cheese: Creamy, Buttery, Mild (Serve soft cheeses whole)
Brie, Camembert, Crescenza, Goat cheese
Pungent Cheese: AKA Stinky in a good way cheese (Serve stinky cheeses whole)
Blue, Taleggio, Gorongzola, Roquefort and Stilton
Hard and Semi Hard Cheese: Nutty, Firm (Serve hard cheeses whole but cut a few slices to get them started)
Pecorino, Manchego, Grana-Padano, Cheddar, Gouda….and, Parmesan Reggiano. (Parm is the king of cheeses and Cervasi imports a yummy traditional Parmesan. You can find it at these stores.
For each type of cheese, buy one to 1 1/2 ounces per person depending on how many accompaniments you will have. But hey…leftovers aren’t a bad thing, hellooo, an incredible mac and cheese the next day…yay:)
Bring all cheeses to room temperature about a half hour before serving to enhance their flavor. Don’t forget this part friend…it really helps to bring out all the delicious flavors.
Find a local cheese store in your area (or on line)…they are super cool places to explore and the folks that work there will always steer you in the right direction while considering your budget. Just mention you would like a range of mild, medium and stinky cheeses. Thats all folk’s, easy peasy.
Choose 1-2 from each category. (take a peek at my cheese-paring guide for a few combinations that I’m obsessed with) [click here]
Fruit: grapes, figs, dried apricots or dates, apples, melons, and pears.
Meats: Genoa salami, Slices of prosciutto, soppressata, rolled Slices of hard salami, capicola, Slices of Capocollo
Nuts: Hazelnuts, Marcona (my fav) or Cashews.
A good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a cute bowl. (Locally owned and imported Cervasi of course)
Spreads: Varietal honey, Jams, Chutney, Mustard, Fruit Compotes
Bread: Artisan cracker crisps, crusty bread such as baguette, rustic multigrain, and artisan rye bread or Cervasi pre-made bruschetta.. You don’t even have to heat the oven.
(sorry, I need to insert a weird sorry here. Ok, I hate rye bread, I mean, it’s like the only food I reeeeeally don’t like. Well, I was visiting my sister and was telling her all this, and she started laughing and saying she is the EXACT same way. We both like most everything except rye bread..how WEIRD huh? We must have had a tragic rye experience in our childhood.
Don’t go crazy serving all of these accompaniment options on your grazing board. Pick one or two from each category and leave it at that. Grazing boards look better when they have larger groupings of foods as opposed to a little of this and a little of that.
Don’t let this scare you. I am by no means a wine expert...not even close, but the good news is we don't have to be!
Choose from a variety of wines like these: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and of course a bottle or 3 of Prosecco! Because we all need a few bubbles in our life.
Some people will say that you should drink specific wines with specific cheeses, but you know what? The more wine tastings I attend, the more I hear it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. I say drink what you like, try a few new ones and make up your own mind.
Talk to the guy/gal at your local wine store. They LOVE to help. They know the best wines under $15 per bottle too! I have had a TON of great lower-priced wines, and I’ve had some not-so-good wines at $80…so there. You don’t need to spend a lot.
Oh, and when your friends say what can I bring, say “well yes, “WINE, please!” It gives them something to contribute, they have wine they are sure to like, and it will get others to explore different wines at the same time.
I read somewhere that if you are having 12 people you should have four bottles of wine….BAHAHAHAHA. That would be a very short party with my friends! I suggest everyone (or maybe every couple) should bring a bottle…and we should all be a-ok!
On that note, be sure to have a pitcher of water and glasses out. And UBER is also a very good thing.
Choose a serving platter. It could be a basic everyday platter, an antique family platter, a marble slab, slate, or in my case; it’s always a rustic wood board. CLICK here for boards I make. Just choose what makes your heart sing!
Arrange the platter. Try to add height by piling grapes or stacking bread. Larger clusters of ingredients are more visually appealing.
Have little knives out for each of the cheeses, so you keep them separated. You know, those cute small short stubby knives. But I don’ have any of those, so I just use my Laguiole butter knives, and I haven’t been shot yet.
Sometimes I sprinkle my board with some fresh herbs or even some whole seasonal fruit for a pop of color…or I add olives in cute little mason jars or wood bowls, so look around your kitchen, find thing you love and add them to your spread. It really can be that easy.
So there it is, simple huh? But trust me when I tell you this will be the most carefree party to host, and everyone will be relaxed and have a great time. When friends start trying all the different cheese and accompaniments, the conversations go something like this….“OMG, did you try that cheese with THAT wine?? oh and the honey, soooo gooood, OR, “taste that wine and that jam on that cheese…to die for”. It’s kinda fun.
This is great for anytime of year, but I especially love to have these grazing boards out around the holidays when I want to have friends over but don’t feel like going to any trouble. A party I can pick up on the way home is perfect sometimes.
So now go be awesome and Have.Yo.Self.A.Party! And if you do, snap a pic of your creation and let me seeeeees:)
(This post is in partnership with Cervasi, but all opinions and wine sipping, typos and cheese noshing are totally my own)