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Host a Wine-and-Cheese Party

Who doesn’t love the idea of a wine-and-cheese soiree? But how do you throw one that puts your party on top of everyone’s list? Listen up.

If your city doesn’t boast of a specialty cheese store, look for a gourmet grocery store that offers a variety. If you just can’t find a brick-and-mortar store, look online. Ask the cheesemonger for tastes and recommendations when you go shopping. Labelling cheese lends a formal touch, and also ensures that they know what they’re biting into.

What kind of cheeses should you pick? Buy one that you’re familiar with, be it Cheddar or Swiss. Ensure that your list includes a couple of fresh cheeses (goat cheese and mozzarella), some aged cheeses (the most famous is Parmigiano-Reggiano), a blue cheese (may be a crumbly Gorgonzola) and a washed rind cheese (the strongest and most aromatic). Never ever pick a processed variety. About six to eight cheeses and you’re all set to party. Pick an ounce of each cheese per person. Eight people and eight cheeses translate into half-pound of each kind.


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Cheese supposedly is wine’s best friend. And vice versa. Gourmands and gastronomes may differ on pairings, but ensure that you have a variety of wines ready to serve. Include sparkling wine (champagne), fruity wine (Riesling or Chenin Blanc), dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay), light red wine (Pinot Noir), fruity red wine (Zinfandel or some Pinot Noirs), bold red wine (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon), dessert wine (late-harvest Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc, or Sauternes). Don’t forget water – still and sparkling (a great palate cleanser). For the teetotalers, include sparkling or still dry cider; nonalcoholic apple or pear cider or nonalcoholic beer. Steer clear of lemonade or citrus juices.

If you don’t have a large space, serve all your cheeses on a single table with a variety of cheese boards. A bigger space allows one to set up a couple of stations – each can have two or three different cheeses and wines that go well with them. Ensure that wines are chilled before guests arrive.


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Bring out your cheeses from the refrigerator ahead of time. They should be warmed to room temperature to enjoy their fullest flavour. Use separate knives for each variety of cheese to prevent the intermingling of flavours and aromas. Ensure that they’re placed more than a few inches apart on the cheese board. “Stinky” cheeses can be put under glass domes till the party kicks off.

Serve an assortment of eats alongside. Sliced, crusty breads or assorted plain crackers, fresh fruit slices (apple, pear, nectarines or plums), dried fruit (dates, prunes, and figs), fruit compotes or chutney, toasted plain nuts (almonds and walnuts), flavored nuts (spiced pistas and pecans), and some grapes and olives add colour and contrast.

Good to have for a wine-and-cheese do are special essentials like a cheese pedestal (kind of like a cake stand to display and serve cheese and extras), cheese knives (to slice and serve; pointed ones for harder cheeses, wider ones to spread soft cheeses), mingling plates (for cheese and with a cutout to hold a wine glass), and a variety of wine glasses (for white, red, burgundy, and Bordeaux). Pretty linen adds an elegant touch.

Create a music playlist to set the mood for the party. Cheers!

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