Looking to entertain in a casual, laid-back style this summer? Consider a wine-and-cheese party. No prior wine- or cheese-buying experience is necessary. This type of entertaining is really tailor-made for warm-weather gatherings.
When selecting cheeses, remember that soft ones tend to be either mild or tart, while hard cheeses are often salty and more assertive in flavor. Use this guide when selecting wines. Young, fresh, and creamy cheeses are best with light, acidic whites. Apply the same thought to most aged, full-bodied cheeses and red wine.
Presentation can run from a simple two- or three-cheese selection with a couple of wines to a more elaborate sampling of multiple cheeses paired with individual wines. The event can be as loose or formal as you prefer. Either way, stick with our pairing tips and serving suggestions, and you'll look like a pro.
If you're new to wine, don't worry. The market is loaded with terrific, great-tasting wines for less than $12. Look for consistent producers such as Gallo of Sonoma, Columbia Crest, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, Beringer Founders' Estate, Wolf Blass, Lindemans, Rosemount Estate, and Santa Rita. For special occasions, Clos du Bois, William Hill, Clos du Val, and Morgan all make splurge-worthy wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Sharp Cheddar, Swiss, Asiago, aged dry Jack
Merlot: Sharp Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Gouda
Chardonnay: Mild Cheddar, smoked mozzarella
Sauvignon Blanc: Blue (Gorgonzola and Roquefort), goat, Comte, Gruyère
Riesling: Brie, Camembert, Gruyère
Champagne or sparkling wine: Brie, Camembert, fontina
Wine and cheese are best served with simple accompaniments such as these.
- Crusty bread and crackers: French baguette, Italian bread, plain crackers (all wrapped in a clean cloth to keep them from drying out)
- Fresh fruit: grapes, melons, pears, apples, berries, figs
- Nuts: pecans, almonds, walnuts, macadamias
- Assorted olives, pickled vegetables, or cured meats such as sliced country ham and sausage