Serving cheese and wine at a cocktail party is a great way to please your guests' palates, strike up conversation, and save yourself a lot of time and effort. Hosting a typical party and providing a variety of food is a lot of work, unless you choose to hose a pot luck party or hire a caterer. However, a cheese and wine party is not only easy to arrange and host, but also fun. A cheese and wine party is a great solution that provides a great experience while still remaining easy on the host. In other words, everyone is pleased and at ease!
In today's world, you need not know much about cheese and wine pairings to host a fabulous cheese and wine party. Wine stores, cheese shops, and stores that sell a combination of both are available in nearly every city and town. These stores are happy to work with you to put together perfect pairings. In addition, the Internet provides great resources for this information, and there are a number of books available that make anyone an instant expert.
Cheese and wine pairings lend themselves to great themes as well. The party can have the theme of a particular country, such as French wines and cheeses, and this can even be narrowed down to a particular region. The host could try an all Europe party or even an international theme combining wines and cheeses from across the globe.
The wine can be purchased well in advance, but the cheese should be purchased the day of the party and definitely not more than a day before for maximum flavor. The wine should be suitably chilled. For sparkling wine, an overnight refrigeration is best, two or three hours is sufficient for white wines, and red wines should be chilled for about 30 minutes. The key to chilling red wine is to get it close to 55 degrees, which is about the temperature of a wine cellar.
The cheese should be grouped together by type, such as soft cheese, cheddar cheese, etc. but not so close together that the flavors mingle. The wine bottles should be open and placed close to the cheese it pairs with and the cheese and wine listed on a folded card placed where it can be clearly seen. A courteous and clever host will also provide pen and paper for the guests to jot down their thoughts, as well as a container for disposing of excess wine.
Palate cleansers, such as crackers or bread, should also be available. These can be placed in bowls or on serving plates arranged throughout the other offerings.
As a general rule, sparkling wines are served with very mild and buttery cheeses while white wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc, are best paired with mild soft cheese, such as Chevre (goat cheese). Camembert and Brie are great with Chardonnays and Cabernets, and medium-bodied red wines, such as Pinot Noir, is particularly suitable to hard and strong flavored cheese like aged cheddars and Gruyere. Blue cheeses are great when paired with a sweet or a dessert wine, such as Muscat.