Hosting a wine and cheese night is a classy affair that can make for a memorable evening for everyone involved. In general, these relatively small, intimate gatherings, but you can also decide to do it with just you and your partner or your housemates.
From what to purchase at the cheese and alcohol shop in Abu Dhabi to encouraging exploration among guests, read on to learn how you can create the ultimate wine and cheese night at home.
Once you have the logistics sorted out, you then want to start curating your cheese selection. Generally, it is recommended that you purchase your cheese two to three days before your event. If you have a local cheesemonger, opt to source your items from there instead of the supermarket. You want to have at least three types of cheese and no more than seven. Aim to have at least one soft cheese, one hard or aged cheese, and blue cheese.
- For soft varieties, consider Brie, Chevre, Camembert, and Saint Andre.
- For semi-soft varieties, consider Gouda, Blue, and Port Salut.
- For firm varieties, consider Manchego, Parmesan, aged Gouda, and Cheddar.
You also want to have an assortment of crackers and crusty bread to serve with the cheese. To fill out your charcuterie board, consider adding seafood (such as shrimp or smoked salmon) and dry-cured meats (such as prosciutto, chorizo, or ham). Other condiments that make for a more pleasant tasting include aged Balsamic, fig jam, honey, and olives.
Similar to cheese, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself and your guests with too many options for wine. Therefore, stick with three to five types of wine so that everyone can truly appreciate the different flavors. Some of the best wine and cheese combinations include:
- Prosecco and parmesan
- Chardonnay and Gruyère
- Sauvignon blanc and goat cheese
- Cabernet Sauvignon and aged Gouda
- Pinot noir and Brie
- Syrah and Camembert
Additionally, you may want to have a couple of bottles of pear or sparkling cherry cider in the fridge for anyone who isn’t drinking. For the most effortless delivery and to remain in the comfort of your own home, opt to buy liquor online in the UAE (or wherever you reside), so that you’ll be confident that you haven’t forgotten anything.
One of the benefits of hosting this type of event is that you can keep things simple. You don’t need to spend lots of time cooking up a storm in the kitchen; in fact, you don’t need to cook anything if you don’t want to. Instead, opt to purchase pre-made appetizers or side dishes.
When you set the table, you want to provide three glasses for each guest: 1 for white wine, 1 for red wine, and 1 for water. When choosing glasses, don’t worry about everything matching. Many chic tables get that look by having an eclectic mismatch of wares.
At least two hours before your event is starting, make sure you take the cheese out of the fridge and leave it at room temperature, as this will ensure that its flavors are as pungent as possible.
Additionally, your wines also need to breathe before the event. Your red wines should be opened and poured into a decanter about an hour before, while the white wines are best after breathing for around 25 minutes. If you decide to serve any crisp white or sparkling wines, then make sure you are serving them in chilled glasses.
No matter who is at your event or how many (or few) guests you have, you want to ensure that everyone feels welcome and has a wonderful time. Wine and cheese tastings can be intimidating for individuals (even your housemates!), so by creating a welcoming environment, you are encouraging people to share what they think about each of the wines and cheeses.
One of the best things about this type of event is that it stirs conversation and encourages exploration. As the host, remind guests that there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to what you enjoy! The more guests share their tasting notes and feelings towards the wine, the more engaging and fun the tasting event will be. Keep in mind that trying too hard can seem very pretentious. When you are serving the wine, take care to only pour a small amount at first so that guests can decide whether they want more.
You may want to pick a theme for the evening, such as Spanish wine and cheese or new-world wines and cheese. Alternatively, you could combine the wine and cheese with new releases from your favorite musicians and critique all of it! Another reliable option is to host a trivia night and play games while you drink and eat. At the end of the day, it is your event, and you are only limited by your imagination.
After hosting an event like this, there is a good chance that you are going to have leftover items on your charcuterie board and your bar cart. This is especially true if guests have brought items to the tasting. Instead of letting these things go to waste, make sure you have the necessary products to store any leftover cheese and wine. If it isn’t appropriately sealed, wine will quickly oxidize and lose its taste within a day or so.
Cheese can be kept for a long time, provided it is stored properly. To ensure it has a consistent but not too cold temperature, place it on a bottom shelf or in the vegetable drawer. Seal and store the cheese in a vacuum-sealed box or wrap it in plastic wrap or wax paper. This way, you can keep the wine and cheese tasting experience going for days!
Have you ever hosted a wine and cheese tasting at home? If not, is it something you are interested in doing? If so, do you have any additional tips to share?
Let us know your thoughts and any relevant experiences in the comments below!
Valentina Chessa is the Retail Marketing Manager at African + Eastern, the largest alcohol retailer in the Middle East with a network of 29 stores in the UAE, 5 in Oman, and a team of over 400 professional staff. The company boasts an extensive portfolio of beer, wine and spirits, and customers can shop online or at one of its conveniently located stores.