Friday, September 25, 2009

Host A Wine & Cheese Party

An elegant wine and cheese party can be a fun and memorable event for both celiacs and non-celiacs alike! Arranging a wine paring party may sound daunting, but the experience can be guided by your own tastes and interests. With tasting parties, the possibilities are nearly endless, and your own creative touch is the key to success!

Whether you stick to a particular wine region or to one type of cuisine, creating a theme for the party can help focus your event and give your guests a unique experience. One popular approach to this type of party is a wine and cheese party.

White to Red, Light-bodied to full-bodied
Although conventional wisdom continues to dominate ideas about wine tasting and pairing, the rules are changing. No longer is it unacceptable to have a full-bodied red with a fish dinner, or to forget food altogether and enjoy wine all by itself! While you should feel free to go by your own preferences and instincts, there are some guidelines that may enhance your tasting experience.

Take A Good Look
Taking note of a wine’s shade, brilliance, and overall appearance are the first steps in a wine tasting. To get a good look at your wine, tilt your glass forward and look at the color of the wine against a white background(make particular note of the color at the very edge of the wine—it will be lighter—this is the true color of the wine). Is the wine cloudy, clear, or brilliant? Does the wine appear young or old? (Typically, younger wines will have much deeper colors.)

Use Your Nose
All that swirling and sniffing isn’t just for show—it’s a powerful tool that will help you discover the wine’s character. To sniff your wine effectively, keep the glass on the table (especially if you’re new to swirling) and rotate it several times so that the wine swirls around the inside of the glass and mixes with air. Only swirl a glass that’s half-full or less.

Immediately after swirling, place your nose into the airspace of the glass and smell the wine. This is the time for you and your guests to jot down your first impressions of the wine—but sure to offer everyone tasting sheets with information about the wine and extra space to record their observations. There’s never a “wrong” answer when it comes to wine, only different experiences. Consider using a wine aroma wheel at the party to help your guests identify what they’re smelling

At Long Last—The Sip
After you’ve looked at it and smelled it thoroughly, you may finally sip your wine! Take a medium-sized sip and hold it in your mouth. As you hold the wine over your tongue, draw in some air through your lips. Then, swish the wine in your mouth—get a good feel for its body and character. Finally, you may swallow it (you may have guests who would like to taste the wine without actually consuming any; for this reason, you should have some type of spitting cup or bowl present).

What Do You Feel and Taste?

Is the wine sweet, or dry? How present is the wine’s acidity? Is the wine firm, soft, crisp? Is it light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied? These are some good questions for you and your guests to think about as you enjoy your wine tasting. But of all the questions, perhaps the most important one to ask yourself is, “Do I like it?” The true emphasis of the party should be on enjoying the wine—and being your own judge.

Enjoying Wine With Cheese
People have long enjoyed wine with cheese together because of the way they enhance one another. The following suggestions for wine/cheese pairings are first grouped by different grapes, and then by the wines created with grape blends.

Cheese by itself is GF, but occasionally the mold that grows on some cheeses—particularly blue cheese—can contain gluten because of the way it was produced. These days, the mold for blue cheeses is often grown on synthetic products (as opposed to loaves of bread), but not always, and Celiac consumers should be wary of consuming blue cheese.


Cabernet Sauvignon
Camembert (France, soft)
Sharp Cheddar (England, semi-hard)
Danish Blue (Denmark, semi-hard)

Bel Paese (Italy, semi-soft)
Brie (France, soft)
Bucheron (France, soft)
Cambazola (Bavaria, soft-ripened)
Cotija (Mexico, semi-hard)
Gruyere (Switzerland, hard)
Jarlsberg (Norway, hard)
Kasseri (Greece, semi-soft)
Parmigiano-Reggiano (Italy, hard)
Pecorino (Italy, hard)
Provolone (Italy, semi-hard)

Gamay (as found in Beaujolais)

Brie (France, soft)
Camembert (France, soft)
Cheddar (England, semi-hard)
Emmentaler (Switzerland, hard)
Feta (Greece, soft)
Kasseri (Greece, semi-soft)
Morbier (France, semi-soft)
Muenster (France, soft)
Raclette (France, hard)

Boursin (France, soft)
Chevre (France, semi-hard)
Garrotxa (Spain, soft)
Muenster (France, soft)
Pecorino-Romano (Italy, hard)
Swiss (U.S., hard)

Grüner Veltliner
Chimay (Belgium, soft)
Double Gloucester (England, semi-hard)
Muenster (France, soft)
Livarot (France, soft)

Cashel Blue (Ireland, semi-soft)
Iberico (Spain, hard)
Manchego (Spain, hard)
Taleggio (Italy, soft)

Camembert (France, soft)
Gouda (Holland, semi-hard)
Gruyere (Switzerland, hard)
Pecorino Toscano (Italy, hard)
Roncal (Spain, hard)

Crème Fraiche (France, soft)
Marscapone (Italy)
Valdeon (Spanish, soft)

Pinot Noir
Light Cheddar (England, semi-hard)
Chevre (France, semi-hard)
Comté (France, semi-hard)
Edam (Netherlands, semi-hard)
Gouda (Holland, semi-hard)
Gruyere (Switzerland, hard)


Chesire (England, semi-hard)
Colby (U.S., semi-soft)
Cotija (Mexico, semi-hard)
Gouda (Holland, semi-hard)
Monterey Jack (U.S., semi-hard)
Swiss (U.S., hard)

Sauvignon Blanc

Brie (France, soft)
Sharp Cheddar (U.S., semi-hard)
Cheshire (England, semi-hard)
Derby (England, hard)
Double Gloucester (England, semi-hard)
Goat Cheese (France/varied, soft)
Gruyere (Switzerland, hard)
Neufchatel (France/U.S., soft)
Sonoma Jack (U.S., semi-hard)

Goat (France/varied, soft)
Livarot (France, soft)


Asiago (Italy, hard)
Dry Sonoma Jack (U.S., semi-hard)
Goat Cheese (France/varied, soft)
Gouda (Holland, semi-hard)
Gruyere (Switzerland, hard)
Muenster (France, soft)
Zamorano (Spain, hard)

Champagne/Sparkling Wine
Baby Swiss (U.S., semi-soft)
Beaufort (France, hard)
Brie (France, soft)
Brillat-Savarin (France, soft)
Camembert (France, soft)
Chevre (France, semi-hard)
Gouda (Holland, semi-hard)
Langres (France, soft)


Brie (France, soft)
Camembert (France, soft)
Havarti (Denmark, semi-soft)

Roquefort (France, semi-hard)

The Details
Set the scene—developing ambience is key! This is where you as the
host/ess can bring out your creative side. Do you envision a formal
setting with fine china, or a more informal gathering with a few close
friends? It’s all up to you! Consider the following touches to make your
event spectacular:

• Buy and send invitations to your guests—or better yet, make your own.
Sending invitations is a great way to set the party’s tone and to get your
guests excited about your event.

• Clearly label your cheese. There are many cute cheese marker sets on the market that can bring an elegant touch to your party ( If you’d prefer not to buy them, make your own. Type up descriptions of the cheeses and print them on the bottom-half of a piece of cardstock. Fold the paper in half and place your pop-up descriptions next to the cheese.

• Print out tasting sheets. Many examples and templates can be found
online, such as this one:(

• Develop a rating system for the wines/wine and cheese pairings that is unique to the party. Have your guests compare notes throughout the event.

• Garnish, garnish, garnish! Garnishes are lovely touches, whether they are real flowers, paper, or leafy vegetables. Get creative!

• Light the scene, indoors or outdoors. White Christmas lights (occasionally available in the off-season) or paper lanterns (found at Cost Plus World Market, Target, etc.) can be instrumental in getting guests feeling good and in the mood.

• Don’t forget the music! If you’re stumped, ask your guests to submit three songs or artists they’d like to hear over the course of the night. With their suggestions, make a playlist and you’re set.


mark lawrence said...

This is such a lovely post!! It was very interesting to read. You gave me some really wonderful holiday party ideas at best Venues in NYC through this post. Thanks a ton for this great share buddy. I will also give some good favors to my guests.