A wine and cheese theme party works for so many occasions. A holiday cocktail party, New Year's Eve, a birthday party, engagement party and bachelorette party (especially wines from the region where the couple will be getting married or honeymooning - I did that for a bride several years ago who was headed to Italy for the honeymoon) to name a few. Limit the wine tasting to no more than 6 different wines. Even that may be a challenge to get through if any of the earlier wines were a hit. Trust me on this: Prosecco is ALWAYS a hit, and a great glass of bubbly to greet guests with, so buy at least two bottles. The general rule of thumb for portion size is 2 oz. of wine per person for each tasting, but that's if your people don't drink as much as my people. I count on at least 5 oz. of each wine per person (again, much more for Prosecco so buy a few bottles and worse comes to worse you have a nice bottle of bubbly leftover for your next celebration or a hostess gift). A menu composed of a few bite-size filling appetizers and a few sweets to end the meal is ideal. The appetizers, Caprese Salad Skewers
, 10 Minute Baked Pesto Shrimp
, Prosciutto-Wrapped Cantaloupe
and easy cheesy bread sticks all go well with the wine pairings, and are filling enough to serve as a meal. Dark Chocolate Truffles
and Pistachio-Ricotta Dip with Fresh Figs
satisfy the chocolate and fruit-loving crowds, and make for a nice end to the meal (they also pair nicely with a few of the red wines you'll be serving). All of the recipes for this menu will be published in upcoming posts (hotlinks will be added to this post), or you can sign up to receive the Stylish Spoon's e-newsletter so you don't miss a single post.
The pictures from this wine and cheese pairing are from a book club that I hosted last month. I chose a book called Love by the Glass
, by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, the famed journalist/wine couple behind the Wall Street Journal's
"Tastings" wine column. The wine and cheese theme was a great starting point for our discussion of the book, which is essentially the couple's love story, told through the wines they drank at points throughout their life together, with the history of American winemaking and wine marketing splashed throughout the pages. The book has several interesting issues to discuss, including some personal challenges, which made it a great read for book club. (It was both laugh-out-loud funny and a real tear-jerker at times, which made for some embarrassing commutes on the subway.) Their tone about wine is approachable and unpretentious. We loved how they recognized that enjoying a glass of wine is often about the atmosphere, mood and company, and that an otherwise crappy bottle of wine (like boxed wine) can be delicious to even those with a refined wine palate, given the right circumstances.
I printed tasting notes for everyone to jot down their comments and the wine tasting notes template
is available as a free printable on Stylish Spoon. With the amount of wine we had on hand, we didn't end up taking comprehensive tasting notes. To be honest, we all wrote down a little something about the prosecco and camembert pairing (which was, in fact, moan-inducing) and did not get beyond that with the notes. We did, however, have a great time talking about the book, the wine and cheese pairings and our lives. We drank entirely too much and stayed up too late. An all-around great girls night.
In creating this menu, I looked to several different sources for inspiration for the wine and cheese pairings, including the great food and beverage pairing guide called What to Drink with What You Eat
by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, the Wine Deck
by Brian St. Pierre, and some of my notes from past wine tasting events at wine shops, vineyards and restaurants. Stay tuned for the complete details of the party, including the menu with recipes, a stress-free timeline for putting the party together, and simple DIY party decor projects from the Stylish Spoon.