Wine and cheese parties, a great way for guests to mingle, can range from sophisticated to upscale and casual. And the best part is, they're a cinch to plan.
Identify the Cheeses
While most love to experiment with new cheeses, but not everyone is so brave. Do your guests a favor and let them know what exactly they're about to eat. Label your cheese selections, either by sticking a toothpick with a label into the cheese or by placing a place card in front of it. Earn extra points by writing a short description of the flavor, which you can also do for the wines you're serving. Not only will this inform guests as to exaclty what they are about to encounter, but it will also help them understand why a certain cheese is paired with a wine.
Use Cheese Knives
Don't let your guests struggle to cut cheeses with your everyday knives. Invest in a set of good, hard cheese and soft cheese knife.
A quality hard cheese knife will have a short, flat blade that is sharp, but smooth. This sort of knife is ideal for cutting hard cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, Aged Cheddar or Mahon Sec.
Conversely, a good soft cheese knife will have a longer, thin blade. It's edge is sometimes sharp, but typically you'll find it's dull. This type of blade is ideal for cutting soft cheeses like Brie, Cream Cheese or Mozzarella.
Use the Kitchen Creatively
Coolers are great for tailgate parties, days at the beach or picnics in the park, but when hosting a wine tasting, they do nothing for your decoration. Here are some alternative chilling methods:
Plug the drain and fill your sink with ice and voila! You have an instant ice cooler ready to keep drinks cold. Out of sight, this will keep your table space reserved for any hors d'oeuvres you may be serving or wines that are ready to be tasted.
Reuse large containers you may have by lining them with a smaller, plastic bucket and dumping ice inside. For instance, that wide wicker basket you sometimes use as a base for summer table arrangements? Pop a plastic basin inside and pour in ice for chilling bottles.
Solution for Used Toothpicks
There are constantly abandoned toothpick lying around the party table, so do your guests a favor by setting out a plate with an orange on it and stick a toothpick on top with the label "Used Picks" on it. Stick one toothpick in it to get guests on the bandwagon, and they'll do the same!
Use Cool Coasters
Coasters are a surprisingly easy and decorative way to spruce up the look of your wine tasting. It's extremely easy to find inexpensive coasters at local thrift shops, dollar stores or craft supply stores. You can also purchase white ceramic ones and decorate them yourself with colorful markers that wash away with a some Windex.