Celebrating colours, textures, and mostly edible decor, wine and cheese parties should not be restricted by season. They are equally as wonderful if they have a seasonal theme, though. The occasion could be a birthday, an anniversary, or simply a weekend where you want to bring your loved ones together.
You’re in the perfect place if you’ve been wanting to host a wine and cheese party but have no idea where to start. We will guide you through every step starting from hospitality, wine pairings, charcuterie accessories, and much more. Keep reading if you wish to throw your friends and family the most memorable wine and cheese party of their lives.
Preparing Your Home, The Place Where The Magic Will Happen
Of course, you need to shop for all the foods and drinks; however, getting your home ready to welcome the guests is equally as important. You don’t need to panic at all. We have got you covered with a list of things that’ll make the whole process much easier for you.
Shopping For Charcuterie Accessories
Charcuterie accessories are essential for your wine and cheese party. If you have hosted formal or semi-formal parties before, you may have many of the things needed in your storage already. To make your assortment of treats as pleasing to the eyes as they are to the tummy, you could colour code the cutlery. Investing in hardy, good-quality cheese board accessories will make arranging wine and cheese parties easier for you for years to come.
Setting the Table
Here are two craft ideas for the creative in you.
Painting Wine Glass Bottoms
Both your old wine glasses and bottles can be repurposed in a plethora of ways. Nothing could be cooler than using wine glasses as decor at a wine and cheese party.
Use chalkboard paint to paint the bottom of the glasses and leave a piece of chalk out on the table. Each guest can then write their name on the bottom of the glass and know which one belongs to whom. This is an incredible way to help your guests keep track of their wine glasses.
Wine Glass Candle-holders
Fill your wine glasses with some leftover cork, turn them upside down, and top them with lovely candles. These can be a little precarious, so make sure to situate them where there’s not going to be a lot of bumping. You can find corks online if you can’t find any at home.
Fresh Bloom As Decor
Not only florals but even herbs could be arranged to enhance your cheese and wine spread. The green hues will contrast the whites, yellows, reds and browns of the cheeses, meats, nuts and grapes. You can also go for bright yellow or white flowers instead.
Freshening up the Bathroom
Your focus should be on making this right even before the cheese and charcuterie platters. Make sure the one you’ll be opening up to guests is clean and that everything in it is working without hassle.
You shouldn’t forget to stock up on extra lotion and hand soap. To keep the bathroom feeling and smelling fresh, you could light a scented candle or use a fragrance diffuser.
Building the Atmosphere
Wine and cheese parties are usually intimate gatherings. You need to set the mood with appropriate lighting and music so that your guests don’t find it hard to settle just after they arrive.
Choose a playlist that is fun but doesn’t make it hard for people to pay concentrate on conversations. Keep the volume low too.
You could light up candles to illuminate your spread; however, be aware of scented candles. Not all of them will pair well with particular kinds of cheeses or wines.
Getting the Right Tools
Various charcuterie accessories, wine bottle openers, cork skewers, and so on. The list is not neverending, but you could easily miss out on something essential. You should try to create a checklist and follow it to ensure everything is available to make the guests as comfortable as possible.
Stars of the Party: The Different Kinds of Cheese
You need to have at least three ounces of cheese per guest to make sure you aren’t undersupplied. Here are some of the most sought-out cheeses that you can easily get at your local stores and what flavor you can expect from them:
Parmesan – Salty, sweet, waxy, and a little nutty.
Mimolette – French cousin of the Parmesan, sweet, nutty and not your ideal choice if you’re on a tight budget.
Manchego – Originally from Spain, firm, sharp and somewhat sour, absolutely perfect for pairing with cured meat.
Robiola – Extremely strong odor but surprisingly sweet and mild flavor.
Goat Cheese – Either your least or most favourite, creamy and flavorful especially if is soft and ripened.
Aged Goat Gouda – Sweeter and nuttier overtones due to losing distinct goat cheese flavors.
Double Cream Cow’s Milk Gouda – Sharp, salty and soft.
“Midnight Moon” Goat Cheese – Half-a-year-old goat cheese, sweet, buttery and slightly crystalline.
Aged Irish Cheddar – Sharp, firm and slightly creamy, goes great with just about everything you can think of.
American Brie – Incredibly soft, buttery, luxurious, melt in your mouth.
Gorgonzola Dolce – Mild, sweet and creamy.
Ricotta – Sweet, creamy, mild and slightly granular.
Charcuterie Board Tips
Types of Meats
You should keep in mind that cured meat flavors can vary hugely depending on their producer, region, and a multitude of other factors. So our descriptions may not entirely align with what you’ll taste at your butcher’s. A plethora of ways in which you can bring tasty protein to your wine and cheese party exist.
Fennel Salami – You’ll most likely have to slice this yourself. This will be a little bit sour and less funky than peppercorn soppressata.
Cured Chorizo – Spicier with a bit of smoke and ageing funk. You’ll want to take the casing of this and the fennel salami even though it is made of a perfectly edible pig intestine. This will make it easier on your guests as well as result in a much more pleasant experience for your taste buds.
Speck – In addition to the oily, tangy, aged flavor of prosciutto, it has been smoked!
Prosciutto San Daniele – Salty, oily, tangy
Prosciutto Cotto – Same as San Daniele which is cured, but this is cooked
Peppercorn Soppressata – Have your butcher slice this paper-thin. This will have funk from the aging process and a little bit of heat from the peppercorn.
Mortadella – Sometimes known as bologna for grown-ups, fatty, salty, porky
Beyond cooked and cured meats like these, there’s a whole world of terrines, pates and other soft paste-y meats.
What Else Can I Serve?
The magnificent collection of meat will need sidekicks. Here are a couple of ideas:
Marcona Almonds – Fry them in olive oil. They’ll turn out to be so much crunchier and tastier than regular almonds that you’ll be grateful you spent extra bucks on them.
Cornichons – These are delicious little pickles. You’ll miss out on life if you don’t include them in your platter.
Nicoise Olives – Be sure to check them for pits, especially if you are not a frequent olive eater. They are more savory and less harsh than regular olives.
Mixed Olives – They are a staple of every wine and cheese party.
Smoked Almonds – These are a must if you are serving strong, imposing cheeses that need something to remind your guests that they’re still there, breathing!
Artichoke Hearts– Dressed in oil and herbs, these are amazing on their own but are even better if paired with some mozzarella.
Orange Marmalade – What brighter and bitter way to introduce fruit to your cheesy and meaty plate of delights than this? Marmalade goes pretty nicely with Brie, goat cheese, or taleggio.
Caramelised Onion Jam – This is a condiment that we believe should be served at all tables along with salt and pepper. You can make it at home, but it’s perfectly good out of the jar as well.
Sundried Tomato Puree – The same applies to this as well! Not all condiments will be available everywhere, and you may discover even cooler ones than those we listed at your local grocer.
Grilled Cipollini Onions – These slightly sweet bite-sized onions are best served with some sweet and sour sauce.
Spicy Honey – This is incredibly tasty and goes best with ricotta or even some of those Marcona almonds if you’re feeling frisky.
Potato chips, tortilla chips, and popcorn can also be a part of your spread.
Salted Crackers and Thinly Sliced Baguette
These are what will drive your taste buds to their much-awaited destination: flavor town. You don’t want anything too flavorful or herby as you already have some high-quality ingredients on your board and don’t want them to be overshadowed.
Where Will I Serve All of This?
We love the fancy charcuterie boards. They look pretty, and the rimmed ones are convenient as they prevent things from rolling off.
However, you could always use a serving platter or a rimmed baking sheet. Cutting boards work well too! If you want to make a big platter, you could even put several cutting boards together.
Playing with Textures
Put together hard and soft cheeses as well as a mix of hard salamis, thinly sliced meats and softer paste. This will not only make your board a treat to the eyes but also a treat to the palate and belly.
Some Fresh Additions
Grapes – The deep purple hues will be a great edible decor for your table. They can be eaten on their own as a little break between all the meat and cheese.
Figs – These will go nicely with the sweet and creamy cheeses.
Apples, pomegranate seeds and pears can do a fantastic job as well!
All’s Well That Ends Well
You should pay attention to the finishing touch because that can transform the whole platter. Right before serving, sprinkle some ground black pepper and sea salt over the mousse, pate, and rillettes. Don’t forget to drizzle some olive oil over the soft and hard meat treats.
Tips to Ensure the Wine Is in Its Best Form
Temperature matters more than you might think; it affects the flavor and aroma of the wine. Different wines thrive at different temperatures, and it all depends on their unique chemical compositions.
You might not be a wine expert, but we’ve got you covered. Place both bottles of red and white wine in the freezer. Take them out an hour before your guests arrive. By then, they will have adjusted to their optimum warmth.
If you want a quick cooling down, you could toss the bottle in your freezer, but make sure it doesn’t remain there for more than half an hour.
If you’re in an even bigger time crunch, wrap the bottle with a wet cloth, and then place it in the freezer for even faster cooling. You could even keep some frozen grapes prepared to toss them in if needed.
Bonus Tip: Label Everything
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You’re already putting together a one-of-a-kind party. You don’t have to try to be a wine expert if you’re not. You could simply print out labels from the Internet or handwrite them for an extra personal touch. This way, even if you are a wine and cheese connoisseur, you won’t have to spend hours explaining the various notes and other details to your guests.
Your Guests: Those Who’ll Make It a Party
Your guests are the ones who’ll play the most important role in making your party unforgettable. You can curate the highest-quality selection of wines and cheese, but if people feel awkward among fellow guests and only keep checking the clock for when it’ll be time to leave, all your effort will go into vain.
When and How Should I Start Inviting People?
Inviting people at least three weeks ahead gives them enough time to clear up their schedules and inform you if they’ll attend. A splendid way to ask friends and family to come over would be via letters. Everyone is so used to getting e-invites nowadays that this could pique people’s interest before your party even begins. You can then simply follow up three days before the party to remind them and ensure their attendance.
Things Your Guests Will Remember
The first five minutes after their arrival at your place will be embedded in your guests’ memories. If there’s a high, they’ll remember it, or else they’ll remember the low or nothing at all. The final five minutes of the party will also stick with them.
You should try to make sure that your guests don’t have awkward moments like not having someone to talk to, not having enough to eat, and not being sure where to sit. Give clear instructions and discuss every step that you have planned to make the wine and cheese party enjoyable for everyone attending.
Making Sure Your Guests Get Home Safe
Drunk driving is a big no-no. It could end your party being remembered forever in the wrong way. Please be careful with your guests who end up getting tipsy. Ask them beforehand to have a friend or loved one on standby to come to pick them up. You could also help them by calling a ride home online or just putting out a printout with taxi-cab numbers on the table so that they can call for a ride once the party is over.
Another Bonus Tip: Encourage People to Note Pairings That Stood Out to Them
This will help them to refer back to something if they crave a certain wine or pairing that they immensely enjoyed at your home. Every time they get to enjoy their beloved pairing, they will be reminded of your iconic wine and cheese party. These are the little components that help parties stand out to people among the numerous others they attend every year.
What if Someone has an Allergy or a Food Restriction?
The most convenient way to go about this is by asking your guests while inviting them. You could mention this in the invitation card, text message, or conversation where you’re asking them to come over. Once you know their allergies or restrictions, try providing each allergic guest with a special treat as an alternative to their allergen or restricted food.
Besides that, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so try creating multiple separate boards and including vegetarian, dairy-free, non-alcoholic, gluten-free options, etc. Label everything well because the labels will be your guests’ saving grace, especially if they have such limitations.
Which Wines Should I Pour First?
You can plan and execute an entire line-up on your own. Lightest to darkest is how it’s the most ideal. Red wines work best as endnotes due to being fuller-bodied and heavier. You can even assign your guests a particular kind of wine or region so that they can bring a bottle of their favorite.
How Many People Should I Invite?
It depends on the people you want to host and how much time and effort you want to spend planning one party. Wine and cheese parties are generally meant to be intimate gatherings, a couple of hours where people connect over their mutual love of both consuming and learning more about wine and cheese.
A great way could be pairing up 10 to 15 people who have similar interests but don’t necessarily hang out together. It could be parents in dire need of a break, people with similar worldviews, creative minds, and so on. This could be a great way for people to make new friends. Yet another way they’ll always remember your party.
How Do I Decide How Much Wine Will Be Needed?
This again depends on your guest list. It is essential to not overspend, but you also have to ensure that you don’t find every bottle empty when a guest wants to have one more glass. The thumb rule is to assume one bottle per person. So have in hand as many bottles as the number of your guests.
Should I Chill Red Wine?
Yes, you definitely should. It is best served in the range of 55F to 65F. If red wine is too cold, it’ll taste dull, and too high of a temperature will strengthen the alcohol flavor.
If you are serving Beaujolais or Pinot Noir, due to their lighter body and higher acidity, serving them at lower temperatures is the most ideal. You should place them in the refrigerator for around one and a half hours before serving.
If you are planning to serve Cabernet Sauvignon or other fuller-bodied wines, serving them warmer may be a better choice. You can leave them in your refrigerator for forty-five minutes before bringing them out for your guests.
The person reading this is all set to host the most unforgettable party of their life! Yes, we are talking about you. You don’t have to be culturally or regionally specific to lay a cheese and charcuterie board out.
You now know that, just by planning and having certain backup options, you can host an extraordinary wine and cheese party. People will not only be comfortable but get to indulge in classy pairings that their taste buds will be grateful for, all of which will be handpicked and arranged by you. Here’s to your guests leaving your house reluctantly because they had such a spectacular time.