needed: ideas for wine and cheese tasting party!

ruthie_sJanuary 3, 2008

Has anyone had a wine and cheese tasting party where the labels are covered and everyone rates the wines in different categories? I would love to hear how it went and how you organised it. I was thinking about 20 couples. I went to one many years ago where we had to bring a bottle, in any price range. I remember it being fun as some brought cheapie and others more mid-to-high range bottles. I thought maybe appetizers and cheeses too.Thanks!

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Here's some info that I got on that subject for future reference (I've not done any). Two different parties. One with labels not covered, and the second has the option of having the labels covered (this one sounds really interesting).

Party One

Lay a table with eight to 12 cheeses, at least three different wines, bread, crackers and fruit accompaniments, and perhaps a bowl of olives or some nuts in the shell for guests to crack.

For a more formal tasting with real cheese lovers, make individual tasting plates and serve two or three courses of cheese with selected wines and accompaniments; for instance, you could start with a selection of cow's and goat's milk soft and semisoft cheeses, strawberries or peach slices and a baguette with a dry white or light-bodied red wine. Follow with an interesting array of aged firm and hard cheeses, dried figs and apricots, and hearty rye bread, accompanied by a full-bodied red wine. Then serve a plate of blue cheeses, pear slices, walnut bread and a glass of port. Finish with a dessert of Medjool dates accompanied by a fresh cheese, such as mascarpone.


Party Two

Cheese Party

Forget serving cheese as a simple hors doeuvres  this culinary delight makes an exquisite entrée at any party. Read on for ideas and tips on how to make your cheese party a crowd pleaser.

Invitation Ideas

For the perfect cheesy invite, cut yellow card stock into a triangular shape. Using a hole punch, make several holes in the slice of cheese, so it resembles Swiss cheese. A cheese party is perfect at cocktail hour or later.


Keep the décor simple, yet elegant, taking inspiration from a European vineyard. YouÂll want the wine and cheese to be the highlight, so use white linen on the tables and accent with red, burgundy, green (use dried grape vines and a variety of washed grapes as a centerpiece) and silver or gold (think napkins, napkin rings, wine glass charms and coasters). If you live in a home with several rooms available for the party, decorate each room with by theme (France, Italy, England) and serve corresponding wine and cheese in each area. Label each cheese with a ceramic or metallic label, or to improvise, use "Hello my Name is" stickers (stick two together on either side of a toothpick). If youÂre serving a variety of cheese from various countries, try a miniature toothpick flag for each cheeseÂs origin and handwrite the name of the cheese on the flag.

Playlist Ideas

Match your music to your menu by playing music from the countries of the cheese you select. For inspiration, try these:

French: Serge Gainsbourg, Air, St. Germain-des-pres-Café collection, Amelie soundtrack
British: Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, KT Tunstall, James Blunt, Kate Bush
Italian: Andrea Bocelli, theme from Life is Beautiful, La Dolce Vita soundtrack, Il Postino soundtrack
Canadian: Sarah McLachlan, Sarah Harmer, Daniel Powter, Chantal Kreviazuk, Ron Sexsmith, David Usher, Shania Twain, Our Lady Peace, Melissa OÂNeil, Barenaked Ladies or Sloan

Cocktail/Menu Ideas

Cheese plate: A gourmet cheese plate will impress guests and let them mingle as they try a variety of cheeses (set each cheese at a different table or room). Select five types of cheeses  and just adjust the quanity of each depending on the number of guests. Try to choose at least one type of cheese from each category (ripe, semi-soft, semi-hard, hard, blue) and type (cow, sheep, goat).

Tip: Let cheese sit at room temperature at least an hour before serving (unwrap from plastic or paper first) and serve cheese whole, allowing guests to cut their own piece.

Beverages: For a sensational experience, pair each cheese with a complementary wine. For example, match soft cheese with champagne or white wine, blue cheese with port, hard cheese with fuller-bodied reds.

Tip: the more pungent the cheese, the sweeter the wine should be. Try to match the region of cheese with a similar wine (ie Italian Amarone with Parmigiano-Reggiano or an Ontario wine with Thunder BayÂs Thunder Oak, an artisanal gouda).

For a non-alcoholic option, serve apple cider or low-acidity tea (avoid fruit teas), both of which can be served hot or chilled.

Cheese fondue: In addition to the cheese plate, set out a cheese fondue [link to recipe] using a medium-sharp cheese (such as English cheddar). Arrange fondue spears or long wooden spears to dip artisanal bread, crudités (pickles, baby carrots, mushrooms, picked cauliflower), cubed ham and fingerling potatoes.


Cheesecake makes a thematic end to a savoury meal by adding a touch of sweet. Try Mocha Cheesecake or Philadelphia Lemon Bumbleberry Cheesecake for a twist on the traditional, or, to give guests variety, make miniature cheesecakes (in mini muffin pans), and set out bowls of toppings (blueberry, strawberry and cherry sauces) for guests to create their own concoctions.

Party Activities

To get guests in the spirit of all things cheesy, test your guests knowledge by not labeling the cheese and having them guess the variety or each, or make a playlist on your iPod of cheesy 90s musicians (Kenny G, anyone?) and have guests guess the artist.

Favour Ideas

Tie pretty fabric ribbons in a variety of wine-and-cheese inspired colours (think merlot, silver, gold, dark green) around an assortment ornate cheese knives and place them in a wire basket so each guest can help themselves to one when they leave.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 12:56PM
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Here's a link to a very informative site regarding wine and cheese party.

- wine and cheese pairings

At the bottom of the page, there are two links. Be sure to check them out too:

- hosting a wine party
- wine tasting

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 1:03PM
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How you do it depends on what you want out of the party and who your guests are. Do yous eriously want the guests to "rate" the wines and perhaps guess where each came from and what they cost? Or do you just want to serve a variety of wines and appetizers and just have fun?
If you want to have a serious wine tasting with hidden labels, you need to have lots of glasses and a "slop" bowl. water available to rinse your mouth, a simple palate clenser like bits of plain bread....and not plan on it lasting too long.
I have been to several "serious" wine tasting parties and don't find them a lot of fun for more than about 30 minutes. I much prefer a party with lots of wines for the tasting and an assortments of foods.....then just taste and compare as you go.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 1:47PM
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I think Linda C has a point - plan to have the "tasting" activity part of the evening occupy an hour or so - the rest of the night, should just be cocktail party-ness (eating, drinking, socializing).

If your friends are a little competitive, ask them to bring 2 bottles. Use one for a blind tasting, pool the second bottles as prizes. Whoever brought the best bottle can take home the rest. (or you can divide it up into 1st, 2nd and 3rd places... maybe have a boobie prize for whoever brought the least popular bottle?)

I'd probably give your guests a theme or some general suggestions about what types of bottles to bring (so the prize bottle from someones cellar isn't going head to head against someone else's bottle of Boone's Farm)

You could pick a grape (a pinot-off?) or a region (South American wines?) or a price range (fav bottles under $20?).

In my experience, unless your friends are really into wine, a less formal tasting is more fun. (I confess - I don't use the spit bucket - another reason to keep the tasting to an hour or so - once people get a little buzzy, the scores get a little skewed)

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 2:07PM
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I went to a friend's wine and cheese party that was a lot of fun. Everyone brought a bottle under 10 bucks. She had cheeses and fruit clustered on tables and a card on each table with suggested wine pairings. When you got there, you found a table that matched your wine and set it there (Pinot Grigios with accompanying cheese platter, etc.) Then there were cards where you could write down any favorites for your own reference.

It was a really informal and fun way to find new (cheap!) wines you enjoy and explore the ways wine and cheese pair together.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 1:46AM
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Thanks everyone!! We live in an area that you can find so many great wines even under $10. so I thought it would be fun to casually walk around while socializing and sample different varities . I like the idea of having cheese and appetizers to compliment each category... I just want it to be loose and comfortable. More about socializing than wine knowledge. I think it's fun to sample say three Cabernet bottles and find "hey, I like this label better" and maybe it isn't the one you would have chosen if the label wasn't covered.
What if under each bottle there was a sheet where people could write comments and give it a rating say 1-5... or put their slip of paper in a small box with the rating. Towards the end of the evening we could announce some of the more interesting or funny comments for each bottle and then the party favorite from each table.
I guess I'd want everyone to arrive with the label covered with something uniform that I would send in the invite. That way if no one cares for the bottle it is just fun and not about who brought what.
What do you think?
I'm visualizing lots of good snacks, music,laughter...
Very relaxed!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 6:38PM
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khandi, Thank you for the great website info! It will be very helpful... a toast to you!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2008 at 7:09PM
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