There are few things in life that go better together than wine and cheese. And with so many different types of wines and cheeses that complement each other, not to mention countless other accoutrements, a party is the perfect way to try just a little bit of a lot of different flavors. Or if you’re me, just try a lot of everything. You see, I’m slightly obsessed with the stuff. Like, I would’ve preferred a tower of cheese instead of my wedding cake obsessed.
(This post contains affiliate links)
We started having wine and cheese parties YEARS ago when we lived in California. They were so much fun that we’ve carried the tradition over every year since. Some years we have a spread so large that it doesn’t all fit on our huge dining room table. Other years we do a better job of tapering back a bit, like this year.
Regardless if you want to sample 50 cheeses, or just 5, there are a few key elements that will elevate your wine and cheese party to rock star status and are very easy to execute.
What you need to host the best wine and cheese party
Your basic list should include the following:
- Wine – Red (some of my faves are Amador Zinfandel, Tuscan Red, Malbec, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Beaujolais) white (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc) possibly a bubbly (like a Prosecco, or Veuve Cliquot), maybe a port (especially if you have brownies), possibly a rosé – I’m more of a red gal so that list of favorites is significantly longer than the rest. I used to be much more of a wine connoisseur but to be honest it really doesn’t matter. Try new stuff and drink what you like.
- Cheese – Duh right? The absolute best way to go about this if you’re stumped, is pick a grocery store that has a cheese monger (in Utah a place like Harmon’s is perfect), Whole Foods probably does, etc. Tell them you are throwing a wine and cheese party… and GO. They will hook you up. If you don’t have a cheese monger, get a nice variety ranging from hard to soft, stinky to mild, cow, goat, sheep, mix it up.
- Cured Meats – A couple varieties of salami are always nice to have. Prosciutto is a classic.
- Olives– I love a good variety ranging from buttery to metallic.
- Dried Fruit – Dates, figs, and apricots are all good.
- Nuts – This year I used pistachios, but almonds are great as well as any other nut.
- Crackers – I like to get a variety, but my all time favorite is the classic water cracker.
- Baguette – We don’t do baguette every year, but this year we had a few different crostini toppings such as an olive tapenade, creamed kale, and creamy mushroom.
- Honey – If you can find a bit of honeycomb to have on a tray that’s always fun, but even a little dish of honey to drizzle over the cheese is delish.
- Other Dips and Sides – This is where I would suggest some bruscetta toppings, a yummy dip, last year someone brought a variety of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, someone else brings a cheese stuffed bread, there’s usually some sort of baked brie, and I usually like to throw in a veggie… because I’m weird like that. The last couple of years I’ve done roasted balsamic brussels sprouts, or grilled asparagus. This year I did some spicy maple glazed roasted carrots.
For the carrots:
Toss the carrots in olive oil, honey, brown sugar, and crushed red pepper. Roast in the oven at 350° for 30-40 minutes.
Put the carrots in a fun glass vessel with a chalkboard label so people know what they are.
This next trick might have been my favorite discovery this year. Of course I found it on Pinterest and had to give it a try. Spread some grapes out on a cookie sheet and throw them in the freezer. It only takes a few hours.
Right before the party starts, put them in a glass container with another chalkboard label so that guests know they’re to chill their vino.
Plus it makes for a nice little treat at the bottom of your glass!
Another thing to note is you’ll want to make sure you save the labels from the packages of cheese. There are a few different ways you can let everyone know what they’re eating. Below, for instance, I’ve simply put the label on the cutting board.
On this platter, I’ve used a cute label holder that sticks into the cheese, then you slide the label in a notch at the top.
Help Your Guests Out:
You may have guests who won’t know what to pair with what, so I sometimes like to put them together in one perfect little bite, like this black fig nestled in a little prosciutto rosette.
Mix it Up:
Every year I like to try something a little different. This year one thing I made was a Cranberry & Pistachio Rolled Goat Cheese Ball.
One unique standby I discovered years ago are these Blue Cheese & Balsamic Topped Kettle Chips.
It’s not necessarily a flavor combo you would think of, but it’s the most ridiculously easy thing to make and is incredibly delicious. For a while it was my go-to party side.
And there you have it. All the basics you’ll need to throw an epic wine and cheese party. Just remember, there’s no wrong way to go about it. You can’t go wrong with wine and cheese.
Other Shopping Ideas