A Cheesy Affair: How to Host a Wine and Cheese Tasting Party
Wine and cheese parties provide the perfect opportunity to gather and graze. Laughing with your loved ones over new types of wine and cheese can become a treasured memory.
Whether you're in charge of a celebration or looking to start your own tradition, cheese is the answer! From fondue to charcuterie, there's a Cabot cheese for every occasion. Let's look at some delicious wine and cheese pairings.
Why Host a Wine and Cheese Party?
The benefits of a wine and cheese party are almost endless. They're a great way to catch up with friends, learn new things and explore unique flavors. Most importantly, they're a chance to eat cheese!
Hosting a cheese and wine tasting party is always a good idea. Whether you want to impress your date or show your friends some of your favorite foods, there's no wrong reason to indulge in this delicious experience.
Choosing the Right Wines and Cheeses
The best cheeses for a wine party depend on your guests and the wines being served. A good variety of textures, moisture levels and colors will capture the attention of attendees. Offering a range of flavors, from spicy to sharp to smokey, can broaden the selection even further.
When choosing wines for a tasting party, providing an assortment of colors and sweetness levels will ensure that there's something for everyone's taste. Deep, earthy wines will pair best with strong cheeses, while crisp and bright ones best complement mild, creamy and grassy cheeses. While there aren't any hard rules for creating wine and cheese pairings, it's best to choose offerings that can stand up to each other in terms of flavor intensity.
We asked some of our fellow Cabot team members to tell us about their favorite wine and cheese pairings. As you can see, their ideas are all over the cheese board!
Setting the Scene: Decoration and Ambience
Setting a relaxed atmosphere at a cheese party will encourage attendees to snack and chat. Lots of natural light will help guests visually savor their cheese and wine selections. Soft, serene background music can encourage people to slow down and truly enjoy the offerings.
The beautiful colors of wine and cheese need very little to set them off. Neutral-colored tables and dinnerware can further add to the ambience while allowing the fare to be the focal point. Fresh fruit and flowers can add bright pops of color and fragrance to your tables.
How to Serve Wine and Cheese: The Art of Presentation
For intimate gatherings, you might serve cheese on a plate or board . Some prefer the rustic look of a hardwood cheese board, while others opt for a stone platter to help keep the food cool. If you're seeking a more modern presentation or catering to lots people, you might spread your selections out on a charcuterie table.
When making a cheese board, you can serve other foods that complement or contrast the selected wine and cheese pairings. These include cornichons, nuts, olives and fresh or dried fruits. These sweet and salty options are good palate cleansers and colorful garnishes. Crackers, sliced baguettes and breadsticks offer texture variation and serve as affordable fillers. They're also ideal when served with creamy, soft cheeses.
A diverse assortment of cheese sizes and textures create an attractive cheese board. Slices of various shapes and thicknesses can be placed alongside full wheels, garnished blocks and partially crumbled wedges. Balls and logs of soft cheese can be left whole aside pâté knives. Utensils like fondue forks and cheese wedges can be worked into the cheese board presentation as well.
A good wine bottle often speaks for itself. However, decanting a wine, particularly a red with lots of tannins, can a great way to showcase its color and enhance its flavor. You should also offer an appropriate selection of wine glasses, including large goblets to highlight the aroma of bold reds and long-stemmed glasses to help keep whites cool.
Pairing Wine and Cheese: A Tasting Adventure
As a general rule, delicate cheeses pair best with light wines, either white or red. Stronger and more complex cheeses should be matched with a robust selection that matches their flavor intensity; maybe an oaked white wine or a full-bodied red. Some chefs use terroir pairings, which showcase the flavors of a particular region.
One of the best parts of cheese and wine tasting is experimentation; it's hard to go wrong with any combination of these two gourmet delights. Below, the Cabot staff share their favorite wine and cheese pairings. There are even more suggestions available in our Ultimate Wine and Cheese Pairing Guide.
Engaging Your Guests: Fun Activities and Conversations
The history of cheese and wine is long and fascinating. Just like wine, cheese is affected by terroir, which includes the climate and environmental conditions that contribute to a product's unique flavors.
One of the most engaging yet simple wine tasting activities can be an exploration of the regions your selections come from and the aging processes they undergo. You can also plan wine and cheese party games, such as blind tasting competitions or region-themed stations.
A wine and cheese party is a great way to bond with friends and loved ones over new experiences. Let us know about your favorite pairings in the comments or share the blog with a friend who would make the perfect host. Check out our Store Locator to find the nearest Cabot cheeses for your party!
The Cabot Team’s Favorite Wine and Cheese Pairings
"I love pairing my favorite cheese from the Farmers’ Legacy Collection, New York Vintage, with a white wine such as a Riesling. A fruity and semi-dry taste from this wine paired with a bold sharp cheddar cheese with complex undertones and a tart finish is absolutely delicious!"
Danielle Poirier – Cabot e-Commerce & Web Manager
"There’s nothing better than a chilled glass of dry Rosé in the summertime. Rosé pairs well with one of my favorite cheeses from the Farmers’ Legacy Collection, White Oak Cheddar. The creamy subtle sweetness of this cheddar is lovely with the strawberry, raspberry, and citrus notes in the Rosé. I always add fresh fruit, and something salty to the cheeseboard – so naturally I sliced a Gala apple, and a handful of some crunchy Pretzel Crisps. It’s so easy to pull together this cheeseboard, and everyone will love it – no matter what night of the week it is."
Rachael Keyes – Cabot Content Manager
"What goes better with a bottle of wine from a friend than some amazing cheese? A lovely red zin was a perfect complement to the creamy, deep flavor of Cabot’s Monterey Jack. The pairing is a little unconventional, a little unexpected and a little bit of perfection with some summer strawberries. I love going a bit against the grain and choosing this mellow, subtle cheese certainly paid off, and the strawberries added a little sweet zing."
Jenni Tilton Flood – Cabot Farmer
"At our house, we’re pretty happy sticking with our tried-and-true favorites, so we often find ourselves enjoying a bar of Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar along with some seriously spicy hard salami. I balance the bite of the sharp cheese and the kick of the salami with a fruit-forward Pinot Noir. Throw in a few plump dried apricots for a hint of sweetness and you have the perfectly paired party!"
Carolyn Kingston – National Events & Programs
"I just love the taste of a perfectly ripe, juicy peach with a class of cold, light Pinot Grigio. The addition of my favorite, Cabot Horseradish Cheddar, takes this combination to a whole new level of deliciousness. Not only does this outstanding cheddar offer a bit of a horseradish kick, its surprisingly creamy texture doesn’t overwhelm the other more delicate flavors."
Kelly Littlefield - Brand Marketing Director
There’s all sorts of goodness on our Ultimate Cheese Pairings Guide.