Five Tips for Throwing a Wine and Cheese Party

As the holiday season nears, social calendars quickly fill with special occasions and impromptu get-togethers. And on the week of Turkey Day, a wine and cheese party is a great way to minimize the need to cook, while still offering a savory selection of noshes. La Crema Chef Tracey Shepos

has five tips to ensure your cheese choices are a palate-pleasing compliment your wine selections.

Beginning, Middle, End

Like a wine tasting, a wine and cheese pairing is a journey for the senses. And like any journey, it should contain a beginning, middle and an end. Chef Tracey recommends tasting some wine first, then the cheese and finishing with another sip of wine. This helps the palette differentiate the flavor of the wine, from the flavor of the cheese and allows their unique flavor characteristics to stand on their own while promoting the union of the pairing. “Each pairing should have harmony throughout and the finish should be the wine.”

Match the Textures

Try and find wine and cheese pairings with similar textural qualities. For example, think of the classic pairing of silky Chardonnay with a Triple Crème Brie. “The mouth feel of the soft cheese matches the lushness of a big Chardonnay.”

brie cheese and chardonnay wine

Similar textures: Soft, creamy brie and a rich Los Carneros Chardonnay.

Other pairings with similar mouth-feel characteristics include pairing an opulent Pinot Noir with Fiscalini cheddar. The almost crunchy parmesan-like texture of the cheese matches with the more pronounced tannic structure of the wine. With this particular pairing, Chef Tracey recommends the addition of a sweet element like dried figs to enhance the flavor profiles.

Opposite flavors attract

Look for cheeses with opposite flavor profiles than the wine you want to pair it with. Blue Cheese and a sweet dessert wine like port work well because the strong flavor of the cheese is mellowed by the calming sweetness of the wine.

On the other end of the flavor spectrum, the crisp fruitiness of our Pinot Noir Rosé is a fantastic counterbalance with goat cheese. In this instance, Chef Tracy notes that the opposing saltiness in the goat cheese is what helps bring the pairing together.

goat cheese and Pinot Noir Rosé

Fruit-forward Pinot Noir Rosé is a delicious contract to rich, tangy goat cheese.

Variety is the spice of life

Finally, choose a selection of cheeses with diversity in mind. Source selections from different animals (cow, sheep, goat), different countries, and especially different flavor and textural profiles. A plate of three soft cheeses isn’t nearly as exciting to your taste buds as a mixture of soft, semi-soft and hard cheeses. For example, triple crème brie, smoked gouda, goat cheese and Reggiano Parmesan.

Consider some supporting actors

If your wine and cheese party is doubling as a light evening meal, up the ante with a selection of accompanying players. We’re not talking about a jar of black olives and baloney. Think of spicy Hot Coppa, Italian Speck (smoked prosciutto), cold smoked salmon, gourmet olives, Peppadew peppers, and sweet dried figs.