| Entertaining with Effortless Elegance: The Classic Wine and Cheese Party
||What better time to entertain friends than over the winter holidays, when your home is beautifully decorated and you’re anxious to wear your red plaid pants or something glittery? One of the simplest, least time-consuming yet most popular holiday gatherings is a wine and cheese party. Unlike a dinner party or cocktail-and-hors d’oeuvres party, you’ll only need a few hours to prepare for your wine and cheese party. Once your shopping is complete, it’s all downhill. You don’t even need to know anything about wine or cheese.|
First, make up your guest list: relatives, neighbors, friends, co-workers, folks from the executive suite, or all of the above. Wine and cheese parties can be for six or 16, even larger than that if you have help. The cheese trays and wine carafes will need to be refreshed regularly, and if you’re the only one doing that, you won’t have time to relax and enjoy your own party unless you keep the guest list small. Then decide the kind of party you want to host: casually sophisticated or more upscale. Once those decisions are made, you can start your shopping list. Careful planning will help you stay within your party budget—you can find wines and cheeses in all price ranges. And, of course, key to a successful wine and cheese party is your selection of compatible wines and cheeses. Some suggestions from party pros:
Pair mild cheeses with light wines like Rieslings and some Chardonnays; medium cheeses with medium-body wines like Pinot Noirs and Pinot Grigios; and bolder cheeses with full-bodied reds like Shiraz, Tawny Port, and some Merlots along with full-bodied whites like some Chardonnays and Sauvignons Blancs.
Just for fun, narrow your wine choices by category: Offer different kinds of sherry; or varying champagnes and sparkling wines; or wines from a particular region of France, Italy, Australia, California, or your own home state. Or pair French cheeses and French wines, Italian cheeses and wines, California cheeses and wines, and—you get the idea.
Offer a selection of breads and crackers: French bread, raisin bread, rye, salty crackers, and plain crackers. Avoid strongly flavored crackers.