Prepping for a cheese and wine party

wine cheese pairingHow do you prepare yourself for a wine and cheese party?  What types of wine and cheese you ask? Well, before we get to that, there are a couple of stages before you get to the actual wine and cheese part.

  • Firstly, you need to make a budget. See how many people you invited and are coming so you know how to shop for.
  • Second, the venue needs to be big enough to host the amount of people you invited. Make sure there is enough chairs and tables also. For example: if you are hosting 20 people, you need at least 3 tables to serve on. 1 for drinks and 2 for food, having at least 12-15 chairs.  Have garbage pails around so people can discard their trash and you also have less to clean up later.
  • The shopping list. how do you shop for an event like this? You need to again, go back to your guest list and see how many people are coming. Here’s why: 1 bottle of wine can serve up to 5-6 guests.  100 grams of cheese, can serve at least 12 tastings. This way you don’t overspend on buying wines or cheese.
  • Part of your shopping list should also be dedicated to buying fruits, dried fruits and nuts. Why?  The juicy, tangy fruits go well with young cheeses like Brie. Sweet dried fruits are wonderful with salty cheeses like Bulgarit cheese. Buttery, bitter nuts are tasty with rich Cheddar. From fruity to sweet to nutty , these same pairing principles apply to wines, too. When in doubt, try to imagine which food would pair best with a cheese, and let that guide you toward a wine.

After we have gone over the basics on how to prepare for the party, now we can get to the actual pairings. How do we know what wine goes with what cheese? Here is a guide to help you prepare for a great party:

Fresh and soft cheeses

soft cheese

Fresh and soft cheeses love crisp whites, dry rosés and sparkling wines.   Avoid red wines like Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, and Bordeaux blends.

Cheeses: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Feta, Halloumi, Brie, Camembert.
Pair with: Riesling (dry to sweet), Gewürztraminer, Moscato, Champagne, Cava, Sauvignon Blanc, Lambrusco.

Semi-hard, Medium-aged Cheeses

gruyere

These cheeses have a firmer texture and stronger flavors. They need  fruity reds, vintage sparkling wine, and aperitif wines that offer a balance between acidity, fruit, and tannin.

Cheeses: Havarti, Edam, Emmental, young Cheddar, Manchego.
Pair with: Chardonnay, white Burgundy, white Bordeaux, Pinot Blanc, Viognier,  Riesling (off-dry), Gewürztraminer, Champagne, red Burgundy, Pinot Noir,Zinfandel, Merlot.

Hard-aged Cheeses

cheddar cheese

Harder cheeses love full-bodied whites and tannic reds. Their nuttiness also works with oxidative wines like sherry, and their saltiness makes them terrific with sweet wines.

Cheeses: Aged Cheddar, aged Gruyère, aged Gouda, Pecorino, Manchego, Parmigiano Reggiano.
Pair with: Aged white Burgundy or Bordeaux,  sweet Riesling, vintage Champagne,  red Burgundy, red Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, California red blends, Zinfandel.

When it comes to pairing, there are no firm rules, just guidelines that can get you in the right ballpark. The only way to know if a pairing works is to experiment and taste for yourself. Don’t forget to buy a lot of toothpicks and even a bad pairing can be educational!

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