To plan a Wine & Cheese party, start preparing several weeks in advance.
Make a list of all the food, drinks, groceries, decorations, table settings and guests you need. Instead of buying everything immediately, get them in small amounts over a few days.
Weeks before the party
It is important to figure out who you want to invite and then send them invites. Also, create labels for your cheese.
A few days before the party
Make sure everyone coming to the party has let you know. Talk to the people who haven’t RSVP (told you if they’re coming) yet. Send a message to those who already said they’re coming to get them excited about the party.
Once you know how many friends are coming, it’s time to shop.
How to buy cheese
Cheeses should be fresh; purchase just a day or two (max three days) before the party.
I like buying from Costco because it has many good options, low prices, and everything is fresh. If you don’t have a Costco around you, you can buy cheese and other groceries from other places like a farmer’s market or a cheese shop. When you buy cheese, it’s important to look at the label and make sure it’s not expired or close to expiring. Also, check the cheese’s smell, appearance, and taste before you buy it. Buying local cheese from a farmer’s market is also a good idea because it’s usually high quality and fresh. Lastly, make sure you only buy as much cheese as you can eat in a few days. If you get bad cheese, you can return it to the store for a refund.
How to store cheese
How do you care for the cheese to keep it fresh and “happy?
Here are some tips to help your cheese last longer:
- Don’t wrap cheese in plastic. Instead, use cheese paper, parchment paper, or waxed paper. Store it in a zip bag with a small part of the zip open to let the cheese breathe.
- Keep cheese in the fridge at a temperature between 1.5-7°C/35-45°F and in a warmer part of the fridge (like the bottom vegetable/fruit bin or the door).
- Blue cheese should be stored in aluminum foil.
- Wrap strong-smelling cheeses twice to keep their smell from spreading to other foods.
- Store cheeses separately to keep their flavours from mixing.
- If a cheese has mould, cut ½ inch below the mouldy part. The rest of the cheese is safe to eat within two days. If the mould is black or pink, throw it away.
- If cheese is dry or smells bad, it’s best to throw it away.
- Don’t freeze natural cheeses. If you have to, let it thaw slowly in the fridge and use it for cooking.
A day before the part
Put your sparkling wine in the fridge overnight to ensure it is ready for the event. It takes a while to prepare a cheese plate, so keep that in mind. You can make the cheese board ahead of time and put it in the fridge. Just remember to take it out about an hour before serving so it can warm up to room temperature.
2-3 hours before the party
Set the table, and take care of getting all the last-minute things in place.
Put the white wine in the fridge and get the wine glasses ready. Keep it there for 2-3 hours before the party. Before serving, put everything on a platter.
Get ready for the party by opening two bottles of red wine. Let the wine breathe for a few hours if it’s tannic, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz, or Tempranillo. You can also pour the wine into a decanter about an hour before the party. Remember to check the recommended temperature for each wine type. In general, serve a red wine at around 15°Celsius/60°Fahrenheit. Remember to arrange the wine glasses and have enough for last-minute or misplaced glasses, doubling the amount per guest if possible.
1-2 hours before the party
Let the cheese warm up before serving it. Take it out of the fridge an hour before. It tastes better at room temperature. Use different knives for each cheese to avoid mixing the flavours. Label the cheese so people know what it is. Take the fruit spreads and olives out of the fridge an hour before serving for better taste.
Until 30 minutes before the party
Get the meat ready by cutting it before serving. Cut the fruit just before serving and put lemon juice on apples and pears to stop them from turning brown. Open two white wines to make it easy. White wine should be between 7-10° C/45-50° F, so open them about 10 minutes before your guests arrive. If you’re serving crisp white or sparkling wines, chill the glasses before serving.
How long can a cheese platter sit out?
For different types of cheese, it’s safe to leave them out of the fridge for between 4 to 8 hours. Soft cheeses are moist and can grow bacteria quickly, so leftover soft cheese should be put in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Hard cheeses can last longer and be left out for 8 hours because they have less moisture. However, the cheese may dry out and look less fresh after 4 or 5 hours. So, to keep your cheese in good condition put any leftover cheese back in the fridge as soon as you finish eating it.
These tips are from my own experience;
I’m neither a party organizer, a sommelier, nor a turophile (a cheese connoisseur).
I just love cheese, wine and spending time with family and friends.
I hope my easy tips will give you the confidence to host a wine and cheese party with a handful of close friends.
If you use my tips for your next Wine & Cheese party, please comment below and remember to take a picture, tag @Fast2eat.com and use #Fast2eat so that we can both marvel at how easy it was!
I hope my easy tips will give you the confidence to step into the kitchen and prepare delicious meals to eat with a handful of close friends.
Have you made a Fast2eat Recipe? I love seeing your take on my recipe!