Tips for Hosting a Wine and Cheese Party

by Cheese411

Planning to have a wine and cheese party at your home? Here are some tips about the types of cheeses you should serve and the best pairings for each.

While some disagree that wine and cheese make the perfect pairing, it is very traditional to pair them together with a platter. Finding the perfect match can actually be a lot of fun, so it's important to set out a wide selection of cheeses, including blue cheese, fresh, spreadable cheese, hard and sharp cheese and some creamy varieties. When pairing wines, there are a number of considerations, including the tannins in the wine, the acidity, the texture and the fat of the cheese.

Here's a guide to help you plan your next wine and cheese party by setting out a nice variety of cheeses to go with your selection of wine.

Image credit: Avlxyz at Flickr

5 Rules to Keep in Mind

Let's start with a few rules you should keep in the back of your head during the planning stage.

  • White wines usually go better with cheese because they don't have strong tannins and their sweetness goes well with salty or strong cheese.
  • If you choose red wines, select a few that are low with low tannins or older red wines, as their tannins have mellowed out.
  • Light cheese goes best with light wines, while rich, heavy cheeses go well with a full-bodied wine.
  • If you select a Cabernet wine with strong tannins, choose a hard and salty cheese made from cow's milk like cheddar.
  • Blue cheese and sweet wines are a perfect pair.

Cheese Pairing Ideas

Bloomy cheese

Bloomy cheeses are creamy with a soft rind. If you're serving Champagne, pair it with Camembert. Chardonnay works beautifully with Brie while a good Pinot Blanc pairs nicely with Taleggio.

Hard cheese

Hard cheeses are usually aged for some time and have a very strong or salty taste. Examples include Gouda, which goes well with Merlot, Cheddar with Carbernet Sauvignon, Parmesan with Chianti and Fontina cheese with Bardolino.

Blue cheese

Blue cheese is very strong and salty with blue veins running through it. Many feel this cheese is an acquired taste, although it can really be the centerpiece of your cheese platter. Blue cheese like Castello-Rosenborg Danish blue cheese goes well with Riesling, Sauternes, Port and Eiswein.

Fresh cheese

Fresh cheeses are typically spreadable and aren't aged long, if at all. They range from very mild to slightly tangy. If you're serving mozzarella cheese, pair it with Sauvignon Blanc. Feta cheese goes with Beaujolais, Ricotta with Pinot Grigio and goat cheese with Chenin Blanc.

Ideas for Serving Cheese

Try to serve a nice selection of various cheeses to suit the wines you're offering. It's always a good idea to use cheese cards on the tray so everyone knows what they're sampling, especially if they'd like to buy the cheese on their own.

Make sure the cheese and the wine is served at the optimal temperature to bring out the flavor. Remove cheese from your refrigerator between 30 and 60 minutes before you set out the tray for your guests. White wine is served at 45°F and red wine is served at 60°F.

Instruct your guests to begin with the light wines and fresh cheeses and save the sharp selections for the end. You may even want to provide notepads so guests can rank their favorite pairings!

Be Sure to Try Some Fun Cheese Recipes, too!

Have cheese leftover after your party? Check out these great cheese recipes for easy ways to use up the cheese in your refrigerator. My favorite is the Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Blue Cheese!

Updated: 01/01/2013, Cheese411
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dustytoes on 01/01/2013

I like this information. I love wine and cheese but wouldn't have a clue as to what goes together.

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