a month ago I was invited to a wine and cheese party at my
neighbors house. From the invitation to the actual wine
party it was a smashing success. I was so impressed
with the concept behind the party and how well it was executed
that I decided to spend some time researching wines
and cheeses in hopes of bringing you, our guests and subscribers,
a fool-proof road map to hosting your very own wine and cheese
First Step: The Invitation
Its up to you to direct your guests
on what price range or types of wines you would like them
to bring. In the party I attended we were instructed to bring
a bottle of red wine under $14 and a cheese to go along with
it. You could broaden this scope by suggesting to bring either
white or red wine or perhaps just their favorite wine in a
certain price range. You can create your own fun invitation
or if you choose you should be able to find pre-printed wine
or cocktail party invitations.
Second Step: Preparing for your Party
Decorations can be as extravagant or simple
as you would like. You may choose to transform your living
room or gathering area into a Tuscan style tasting room with
faux Italian paintings and vintage bottles or you could simply
use white table cloths and plenty of candles for a nice engaging
ambiance. And dont forget the music. Fun choices are
Italian or French background music or light jazz.
Its a good idea to have a few non-cheese
appetizers such as crackers (gf crackers will do just fine
Gone Crackers or Blue
Diamonds Nut Thins), a vegetable platter and maybe
even a meat appetizer like our Lemon-Cumin
Chicken Meatballs or Mini
Beef Filets with Horseradish Crème Fraiche).
Make sure all the appetizers are ready to go before your guests
arrive. Its also a good idea to have some extra serving
plates, knives and stand-up label cards for the assortment
of cheese provided by your guests.
For the wine:
If you dont have enough wine glasses
for your guests, I suggest going to Walmart, Target or some
other discount store and purchasing inexpensive wine glasses
for the occasion. You should be able to pick these up at
relatively little cost and you can always use them for future
To prepare for the wine tasting, take several
paper bags or blank paper and cut them to 7"x11".
These pieces of paper will be used to wrap around each bottle
of wine your guest brings. Have ready a marker and tape to
label and secure the paper around the label of each bottle.
You will also need a wine tasting score card for each of your
guests. Below you will see a sample of a score card that you
can print off and use or make one in a similar fashion of
your own. This score card gives your guests the opportunity
to judge each wine based on taste, sight and aroma and finally
choose their top favorite 3 wines of the night.
A gift for the best wine: (optional)
A particularly nice touch for your wine
party is to award the person who brings the winning wine with
a little gift. In the party we attended the gift was a gift
certificate to a wine shop. This is not only a nice touch
but it also adds a little playful competition to the evening.
Third Step: Let the Party Begin!
When the guests arrive:
your guests arrive its important to quickly wrap and
number their wine offering to hide the label. Once all the
guests have arrived explain how the wine tasting will work
and hand out the score cards. This is also where you should
go through how the wines will be judged (taste, sight, and
aroma) and ultimately how 3 top favorites should be chosen
by each guest.
Let your guests mingle and taste each wine
(wine pours should be limited to about 2 fingers for each
sampling) and enjoy the cheese pairings and appetizers. Once
everyone has had a chance to taste and judge each wine and
choose their top 3 favorite wines, have your guests turn in
their score cards. Using a sheet of paper tally up number
of votes for the #1 wine, #2 wine & #3 wine. At this point
you let your guests reclaim their score cards so they can
write down the names of each wine for future reference.
Gather your guests around and start revealing
the wine labels, leaving the winning wines for the last. When
you reach the last 3 winners, start with #3 and end with the
winning #1 ranked bottle of wine. At this point, if you choose,
award the guest who brought the winning wine with your gift.
Tips & Suggestions:
- Because of the nature of this party where
your guests each bring a wine to be sampled, it is better
if the guest list is limited to 6-8 couples. Having 12-14
bottles of wine to test can be a little challenging and
a little dangerous for those who have to drive home!
- Of course, make sure your guests drink
responsibly. If someone seems to have tasted a little too
much, help them out and call a cab.
- The focus of the wine party I attended
was certainly on the wine even though we were instructed
to bring a cheese pairing however, you could easily
turn your wine party into not only a wine tasting but also
a cheese tasting by having your guests taste and guess the
type of cheese or even rank their favorite cheeses.