how to: host a wine & cheese party

by Megan Fleiner in


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"Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly." - M. F. K. Fisher

Such a true and simple, yet powerful statement, isn't it? I've heard that the dinner party is a lost art, which makes me a little (very) sad. I love gathering around the table to share food with my family and friends, it's something that I don't think will ever get old for me.  

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This past weekend I hosted a wine & cheese party for some girlfriends, and it went so well I thought I'd share some tips here with you. We had 8 girls, including myself, 7 wines, and 7 cheeses. I think you could get away with 4 or 5 of each, but we just couldn't help ourselves. I asked each guest to bring either a wine or a cheese based on a suggested pairings list, which cut down my shopping list for the party. This seemed to work really well!

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Here are the pairings we went with (we tasted in this order):

Camembert & Sparkling Rosé

Brie & Chardonnay

Parmesan & Chianti

Gruyère & Sauvignon Blanc

Cheddar & Zinfandel/Cab Sauv/Syrah blend

 Ricotta & Pinot Grigio

Goat & Albarino

1 ounce per cheese per guest is a good guide to go by, and 1 bottle of each type of wine will be plenty for the tasting portion (for up to 12 guests or so) but it's good to have extra just in case! 

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And just as important, the accoutrements:

Assorted crackers - Sliced baguette - Red & green grapes - Fresh figs - Charcuterie

Olives - Dried apricots - Marcona almonds - Granola - Honey - Chutney

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A few tips before your guests arrive: 

  • Gather all of your cheese trays & knives, bowls, utensils, and plan where each cheese, spread, fruit will go. 
  • Set the table according to your serve ware/tasting order.  
  • Chill all of your white wines (if your guests are bringing them, ask that they chill them beforehand). 
  • Take cheeses out of the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before your guests arrive, as they are best served at room temperature.  
  • Set out the appropriate number of plates, wine glasses/champagne flutes, napkins, and water glasses. Make sure you set out water (still and sparkling) for guests to drink throughout the party.
  • 20 minutes before your guests arrive, set out all of the crackers, fruit, nuts, and any other accompaniments on their respective serving dishes.  
  • With 10 minutes left, set out any cheeses & wine (place cards can be really helpful), light a few candles, and turn on your favorite playlist. 
  • When your guests arrive, put out their cheese/wine, and start tasting once everyone arrives!
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Have you ever thrown a wine & cheese party? Do you have any other tips, favorite pairings, or nibbles to serve on the side? It was such a perfect way to spend a night with friends, I can't wait to do it again.