Picking the Perfect Wine & Cheese For Your Party
Standing in front of the cheese or wine section, clueless, is no way to plan a stress-free party. And the better the selection, the more confusing it can be.
Learn the basics about wine, food, and cheese pairings, and surprise party guests with your knowledge of palate-pleasing combinations.
Basic Wine & Cheese Serving Tips
- Take cheeses out of the refrigerator at least an hour before serving.
- Provide sturdy knives for hard cheeses like Parmesan and wire cheese cutters for soft cheeses.
- When serving a variety of cheeses, separate aromatic versions like Roquefort and Muenster (and their knives) from lighter cheeses like mozzarella.
- Don’t overcrowd a cheese tray—it will create a difficult slicing experience.
- Chill white wine before the party. Most red wines should be served at room temperature.
- Supply distinctive wine glass charms so guests don’t forget which glass is theirs.
PLATING TIP: Apply a coat of chalkboard paint to an old tray, let it dry, then serve and label cheese names on the board with chalk. Place small pieces of parchment paper between the tray and food items.
What to Pair with Red Wines
- Merlot: Light to dark spiced meats, roasted vegetables, and cheeses like Camembert, Gouda, Gruyere and Pecorino
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Simple red meat dishes, and cheeses like sharp cheddar, Gouda and Danish blue
- Pinot Noir: Grilled salmon, chicken, lamb, sushi, risottos, and cheeses like light cheddar, Edam, Port Salut, Gouda and Gruyere
- Shiraz: Steak, beef, game, stews, and cheeses like sharp cheddar, Edam, Gouda and Saint Nectaire
- Malbec: All meat-based meals, and hard cheeses like manchego, Parmesan, Gouda, Asiago
- Zinfandel: Tomato-based dishes, pasta, grilled or barbecued meats, stir-fries, and cheeses like Asiago, Gouda, Gruyere, pecorino, Muenster and Maytag blue
TIP: Don't be afraid to ask for help when shopping for wine or cheese! Salespeople are a great resource for knowledgeable recommendations and pairings.
What to Pair with White Wines
- Pinot Grigio: Shellfish, raw fish (tartare and ceviche), melon, calamari, salads, and cheeses like ricotta, Asiago fresco, goat and mozzarella
- Chardonnay: Seafood, chicken, and cheeses like Brie, fontina and provolone
- Sauvignon Blanc: Seafood, poultry, salads, and cheeses like sharp cheddar, Brie, Neufchatel and a variety of goat cheeses
- Riesling: Fish, chicken and pork, and cheeses like Colby, Cotija, Monterey Jack, Edam and Swiss
TIP: Jot down all the selected pairings before the party and keep track of which were crowd pleasers based on what is left after guests have gone. Then you’ll know exactly what to purchase for the next gathering!