Wine. You hate it when you’re younger; it’s just something that your parents drink. Then suddenly you reach the ripe old teenage years and it starts to taste different. It starts to taste good. Before you know it, you love it.
Wine and cheese are inevitably the taste pallet’s yin and yang. Whether it’s at the end of a meal, an evening with friends or a midnight snack, it’s a winning combination. With summer evenings on the horizon, now is the perfect time to get your friends together and throw your own wine and cheese night.
How, may you ask? Where shall I hold it? Which wine compliments which cheese? How do I keep my guests entertained? Fear not, because we’re going to give you the low down on how to throw the perfect wine and cheese night.
Your own living room! The best part about wine and cheese nights is that there are few formalities. Unlike a dinner party where you have to set up the table, provide the food and drink and generally spend your night as the host, wine and cheese nights simply involve the setting up and then you’re good to go. Consider the size of your own living room and how many people you want to invite. The best set-up involves moving the furniture as far back towards the walls as possible and keeping some form of table in the centre of the room which helps to stimulate chatter between guests, particularly if they haven’t previously met. On a warm evening, it’s also nice to have an outdoor area with a few seats, some lanterns or candles and perhaps even a chiminea for extra ambience. Considering British summertime is notably unpredictable, however, it would be worth having a Plan B in case any outdoor plans are ruined by poor weather.
The best part about wine and cheese nights is the lack of entertainment required. Simply make a playlist of ambient music to have in the background, let the wine flow and see your guests feel entertained without having to put in lots of effort. If you want to take it a step further, get out some games! Games such as Balderdash, Cards Against Humanity or Articulate are perfect for a wine and cheese night as they have the capabilities to play in teams or alone. They also don’t have a vital finishing point meaning the game can end whenever, so there’s no need to worry about trying to end a five-hour game of Monopoly.
The Wine and Cheese
It’s best to have a variety of wines – more red and white, but it’s worth throwing in a couple of bottles of rosé just in case. If you’d prefer not breaking the bank and buying the vino yourself, you could easily ask your guests to bring a bottle of their own each with the intention of mixing and matching. Otherwise, the best option is to pop to your nearest Costco or Majestic to buy bottles in bulk. Use a large table to hold your wine and cheese, and try to put the best matches close to each other. If you fancy, you could even label each cheese and wine so that your guests know the best combinations. Here’s a brief low down of which wines match which types of cheese:
Crisp Dry White Wines
Including: Soave, Chablis and Pinot Grigio.
Recommended: Muscadet from the area around Nantes, France.
These tend to work very well with soft cheese, as both the wine and the cheese have high acidity and delicate flavours. However, blue cheese and Cheddar are too strong and knock out the wine’s gentle tones.
Rich Dry White Wines
Including: Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and white Rioja.
Recommended: Viognier, particularly from South Australia or France’s Rhône Valley.
These wines are good all-rounders. They have enough acidity to cope with the soft, white cheese, and the oaky, buttery flavours echo those of the Cheddar very well. However, blue cheese is a touch too sharp and salty which overwhelms the wine.
Sweet White Wines
Including: Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and some Chenin Blancs.
Recommended: Riesling, particularly those from Germany, Alsace and New Zealand.
Think of the sweet and savoury combination of cheese and pickle. These wines, with their slight sweetness, have the same effect, and enough body and richness to cope with strong cheese.
Fresh and Fruity Red Wines
Including: Merlot, Rioja and Valpolicella.
Recommended: Beaujolais, from the Beaujolais region to the south of Burgundy in France.
These work very well with cheese. Thanks to their high acidity, a fresh and fruity red wine can cope with the acidity of most cheeses.
Rich and Powerful Red Wines
Including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo and Shiraz.
Recommended: Syrah from California.
These are recommended to avoid with cheese. Big, powerful red wines are high in tannin which jars unpleasantly with the fat in cheese, creating a metallic sensation. However these wines themselves are pleasant at the end of the evening, once the cheese has been finished.
So that’s it! If you thought a wine and cheese night involved lots of planning, you thought wrong. So now you’ve got the facts, what are you waiting for? Invite your friends, get the wine and cheese, and enjoy yourself!
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