Any time is a good time for a wine and cheese party – two great things that go great together. But if you feel the task of picking a selection of fromage and pairing it with wine is a little too daunting, fear not. Here are some tips to make for a successful soiree.
1. The easiest way to begin planning your spread is to pick a theme – like French, South American -- or have your guests bring a wine or cheese they love.
2. Keep the cheese numbers odd -- 3, 5, 7. This is visually pleasing and is reflected in other arts, like flower arranging. Really.
3.How much to buy? For cheese, the rule of thumb is three ounces per person if it’s an appetizer, six ounces if it’s the main event. For wine? Well, think about three glasses per person of each of the different offerings.
4. What do you serve with your cheese? Obviously forgo the saltines. You can’t go wrong with crusty, freshly sliced baguette. High quality crackers will also do– but keep them unseasoned. Also, think creatively. If you’re serving a blue cheese, perhaps pick up a loaf of honey-walnut bread.
5. Fruits, dates, chutneys, nuts and jams can enhance the flavors of the cheeses and add variety. Figs or fig chutney goes great with soft cheese like brie. Apples and berries are refreshing. But stay away from citrus fruits, which will overwhelm the cheese.
6. Do your shopping as close to the event as possible and take the cheese out of the refrigeration about a half-an hour before the party starts. Arrange the cheese from mild to stinky.
7. So..stinky to mild – how do you build that cheese plate? Choose a variety of milks, regions and textures. Need even more guidance? Pick a goat or chevre, a sheep’s milk, a smelly cheese (like epoisses) a blue variety, and a hard or semi-hard cheese ranging from cheddar to Gouda.
8. Worried about which wines go with what cheese? Use your palate to pick, but for a cheat sheet: http://winemonger.com/catalog/winemonger-talk/wine-and-cheese-pairing/2006/07/15/
The key to success of these events is variety. Offering an array of both wines and foods will make your party interesting and delicious!