Is there a better way to spend a warm summer night than eating cheese and drinking wine with friends? We don’t think so! With all of the varieties of cheese and wine available, it can feel intimidating to host a cheese and wine pairing party. With a little bit of direction, however, you’ll find that hosting a pairing party can be easy, fun, and stress-free. Follow our tips below to pull off the perfect vino-curd bash!
Make New Friends, But Keep the Old
While cheese and wine pairing parties are a great way to familiarize yourself with new tastes, don’t be afraid to pick an old favorite — choosing one at least one cheese you know well (and think is absolutely delicious) is the first step to throwing a great pairing party. Hey, if it all goes to hell, at least you’ll have a yummy cheese to enjoy.
Something Old, Something New
Grab at least one fresh and one aged cheese for your party — the range in ages provides a better chance of a successful wine pairing. Cheese expert Laura Werlin explains: “Fresh cheeses are ones that haven’t been aged, such as fresh goat cheese and mozzarella. They’re always crowd pleasers and readily available. Be sure to buy the best quality mozzarella you can afford, preferably one that’s sold fresh in water. The vacuum-sealed variety is best when used on top of a pizza rather than at a cheese and wine party.”
Aged cheeses, on the other hand, are firmer and saltier. The most famous aged cheese is Parmigiano Reggiano, and it always makes a great addition to a cheese and wine pairing party.
Ask for Help
When purchasing your cheeses, do not hesitate to ask a cheesemonger for advice as to what will work best together — mongers love to pair cheese and beverages just as much as you do, if not more! If you already have your cheese, or don’t have time to spare, online resources are extremely helpful, too. Check out this cheat sheet from Serious Eats and this interactive pairing tool from Wisconsin Cheese to get started.
Don’t forget to set out the cheese you’ll be serving 1-2 hours ahead of the party to let the cheese reach its optimal flavor and temperature. Use one knife per cheese to avoid any flavor contamination (you don’t want your ricotta to suddenly be flavored with blue!). The best part of preparing a pairing party? There’s no cooking required. Just set out some snacks like crackers, pita chips, or pretzels to go along with the cheeses, sit back, and enjoy the party you’ve created! Have fun. Experiment. There’s a lesson to be learned in every bad pairing, and something delicious to enjoy in every good one. Cheers!
Want more cheese pairing ideas, tips, and tricks? Grab your copy of our ultimate pairing guide, Cheese+, today!
Photo by Foodiecrush