Want to spoil your friends without spending a ton of money? Treat them to a modern wine tasting at home, complete with expertly paired cheeses for an all-around fun cocktail party theme.
Something magical takes place when you find the perfect combination of flavors in a food and drink pairing (just think about milk and cookies!), and that’s especially true for wine and cheese pairings. The right pairing makes the wine and cheese taste infinitely better than they would each taste on their own; the sum really is greater than its parts. Wines don’t need to be expensive to be good, and having a great cheese to serve with your reasonably-priced wine makes the experience really pleasurable. Like moan worthy. And who doesn’t want to serve (and eat) something that will elicit moans?!?
The pictures from this wine and cheese pairing are from a book club that I hosted last month. I chose a book called Love by the Glass, by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, the famed journalist/wine couple behind the Wall Street Journal’s “Tastings” wine column. The wine and cheese theme was a great starting point for our discussion of the book, which is essentially the couple’s love story, told through the wines they drank at points throughout their life together, with the history of American winemaking and wine marketing splashed throughout the pages. The book has several interesting issues to discuss, including some personal challenges, which made it a great read for book club. (It was both laugh-out-loud funny and a real tear-jerker at times, which made for some embarrassing commutes on the subway.) Their tone about wine is approachable and unpretentious. We loved how they recognized that enjoying a glass of wine is often about the atmosphere, mood and company, and that an otherwise crappy bottle of wine (like boxed wine) can be delicious to even those with a refined wine palate, given the right circumstances.
I printed tasting notes for everyone to jot down their comments and the wine tasting notes template is available as a free printable on Stylish Spoon. With the amount of wine we had on hand, we didn’t end up taking comprehensive tasting notes. To be honest, we all wrote down a little something about the prosecco and camembert pairing (which was, in fact, moan-inducing) and did not get beyond that with the notes. We did, however, have a great time talking about the book, the wine and cheese pairings and our lives. We drank entirely too much and stayed up too late. An all-around great girls night.
Suggested brands listed are generally available at Fresh Direct, but feel free to use your favorite brands of wine and cheese, or whatever you can easily find at a well-stocked liquor and grocery store.
- Prosecco & Camembert (such as Old Chatham Hudson Valley)
- Sauvignon Blanc & Goat Gouda (such as Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc &
- Cypress Grove Midnight Moon)
- Riesling & Aged Gouda (such as Hermann J. Wiemer Semi-dry Riesling &
- Boerenkaas Extra Aged)
- Pinot Noir & Semi-firm Truffle Cheese (such as Castle Rock Pinot Noir
- & Il Forteto Truffle Cheese)
- Merlot & Gorgonzola (such as Bonterra Merlot & Dolce Gorgonzola)
- Rioja & Manchego (such as Marqués de Cáceres Rioja & 12-month aged Mitica)
- Bring all cheeses to room temperature before serving, removing from the fridge 1 hour before serving (or at least 30 minutes).
There are several other great pairings that you can swap out for any of the above, including Zinfandel & Monterey jack, Chianti & Parmeggiano-Reggiano, Borollo & Pecorino or Sencerre & fresh goat cheese. As a general rule of thumb, choose a cheese from the same region as the wine and you will generally have a nice flavor combo. As they say, things that grow together go together.
In creating this menu, I looked to several different sources for inspiration for the wine and cheese pairings, including the great food and beverage pairing guide called What to Drink with What You Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, the Wine Deck by Brian St. Pierre, and some of my notes from past wine tasting events at wine shops, vineyards and restaurants. Stay tuned for the complete details of the party, including the menu with recipes, a stress-free timeline for putting the party together, and simple DIY party decor projects from the Stylish Spoon.