What to Serve
You would think we could serve just wine and cheese at a wine and cheese party, but not so. Adding a few trimmings to your arrangement, fruit, bread and nuts, fine-tunes the menu. The result is a treasure trove of taste sensations.
- Cheese and Wine
Serve 3 to 5 cheeses depending on the number of guests, with a variety of tastes, textures and strengths. Buy the best cheese you can afford, too; no buying cheese off the rack, and absolutely no processed cheese is allowed. Purchase the cheese no more than a day ahead, for freshness.
Quantity: 2 ounces of each cheese per guest.
Choose a wine to complement each cheese selection, or vice versa. It doesn’t matter whether you start with the wine or the cheese.
- Always Serve Water
Quantity: 1 bottle per guest, total, to be on the safe side. Most guests consume between one half and one whole bottle of wine during an evening.
Fruit is a natural with wine and cheese. Fresh fruit is easy. Serve whatever you can (such as plums and berries) whole, grapes in small bunches, and the rest sliced as needed. Dried fruit is another delicious option, already prepared. Or try a fruit salsa or compote.
Quantity: about 3 ounces per person, prepared.
Bread is a must because it serves as a palate cleanser and a base for any spreadable cheeses. Fine crackers work well, as does a sliced 3″ baguette. Serve whatever you like as long as what you like does not overpower the other foods in any way.
Quantity: 1 pound per 12 people.
- Nuts and Seeds
Salted, candied or spiced nuts and seeds, and the like, serve as the counterpoint for the rest of the menu. There are several sweet and spicy nut recipes on site, or you can purchase prepared nuts, nut brittle, spiced pumpkin seeds, edaname, etc.
Quantity: 2 or 3 ounces per person.
How to Serve It
Arrange the cheeses from mildest to wildest. Group them with their complementary wines. Identify each type of cheese and its accompanying wine on a place card beside each grouping.
Not enough cheese boards? Large tiles, marble, and good ol’ plates and platters work just as well. Cheese should be served at room temperature for best flavor. An hour out of the fridge should do it. Above all, each cheese must have its own knife or spreader or who knows what flavors you’ll end up with.
Wine and Cheese Pairing
In a nutshell, sweet, fruity white or red wines complement most cheeses. Primarily white wine. Strong, pungent cheeses, however, call for bold wines and very sweet dessert wines. You’ll find that Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir pair well with most cheeses. Champagne and Beaujolais are on the short list, too.