Learn How to Host an Impromptu Wine and Cheese Party this holiday season for a fun and festive way to get together with all your friends and family. Plus, find the best tips and tricks to create an effortless wine and cheese board with tasty gluten free and dairy free snacks everyone will love. Whether you’re celebrating in person or virtually, we’ve got you covered with everything you’ll need to create a plan in less than a day!
Let’s Wine About It!
If you know me, you know I’m a big fan of wine. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good old-fashioned cocktail such as a Yuletide Moon cocktail or even a Hot Toddy every now and then. However, given a choice, wine is always my go-to drink. So, when the holiday season rolled around, it seemed like a no-brainer for me to host a wine and cheese party! Honestly, I’m shocked I didn’t think of doing so sooner. However, if you don’t drink wine yourself or aren’t a planner, you can still throw a fantastic wine and cheese party or even a virtual wine tasting party that will leave your friends talking for weeks to come!
As long as you enjoy getting together with your loved ones, you’ve got this, because I’ve got you covered with everything from which wines to choose, easy appetizer recipes, hosting tips, and more! So, sit back, relax, and pour yourself a glass as you gear up for the holiday season. Whether you’re planning weeks in advance or throw together a party today, it’s going to be a blast! Keep reading to find the answers to all your burning questions so you can get back to celebrating the season!
How to Host a Wine and Cheese Party
When it comes to hosting a wine and cheese party or virtual wine tasting party, there are no set rules you have to follow. However, there are a few guidelines to follow to help make the party planning process easier. For instance, you’ll need to know what you’ll need to gather, what time to expect guests, how to prepare ahead of time, and what to serve, just to name a few. Luckily, to get you in the party mode, I’m breaking down the process step-by-step below.
What You’ll Need
Of course, you’ll need wine and cheese, but there are also a few other items that help create the perfect party including:
What Time It Should Start
Given that wine and cheese parties are not meant to have complete meals, it’s best to host them either before dinner such as at 4 o’clock p.m., or later in the evening around 9 o’clock p.m. after your guests have eaten dinner.
Pro-Tip: If you can’t meet with your loved ones in person, try hosting a virtual wine tasting party! To do so, set a time to meet online, and agree to have your favorite wine and snacks on hand so everyone can partake in the fun.
For the best results, you’ll want to pick wine and cheeses that can be paired together and serve a variety of both for options that will satisfy all your guests. Typically, you would want to modify your choices to match the season. However, for an impromptu wine and cheese party, we’ll let the rules slide and allow all foods. Take a look below to find the best options for all things wine, cheese, and snacks!
The Best Wine to Use
In my opinion, the best wine to use for your party is the one you like best. However, I also recommend providing several options for your guests to choose from. You could even serve a flight for a fun wine-tasting! Take a look at the most common wines to serve below.
- Pinot Noir
- Aged Port
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Provence Rosé
Note: In my opinion, light-tasting Rosé and Sparkling White wine are good with just about ALL THE THINGS and are a must at wine and cheese parties. Soft in flavor, they’re a great “intro” wine to those who may not be frequent wine connoisseurs.
What Kind of Cheese to Buy
Salty, hard cheeses pair well with wine, but so do soft cheeses. This being said, an impromptu wine and cheese party should be easy to prepare. So, don’t feel like you need to serve all of these. Instead, I recommend choosing at least 3-4 different types of cheese and using the tips below to include a wide variety of choices for your board.
- Choose from different textures including hard, medium, and soft.
- Include cheese from different sources including cows, goats, sheep, or vegan sources.
- Use a variety of flavors by including cheeses coated in herbs, drizzled with truffle oil, or smoked.
Pro-Tip: For an aesthetic wine and cheese board, cut your cheese into different sizes and shapes including circles, cubes, wedges, slices, and more!
The Best Cheese Options
- Gouda – The perfect pairing with Cabernet
- Aged Cheddar – Lovely with Malbec
- Manchego – This option is a sheep milk-based cheese, great for those who are sensitive to cow’s milk cheese and perfect when paired with a sparkly wine such as red Rioja.
- Ricotta – Goes well with Riesling
- Parmesan – Delicious with a bubbly Prosecco
- Gruyere – A love fest with Chardonnay
- Brie – Goes well with many wines, but my favorite pairing is Merlot
- Bleu Cheese – Pairs well with a Pinot Noir or a sweet Port
- Feta – Slightly sweet wine is perfect with salty feta! I like it best with a bright red or dry Rosé.
VEGAN or DAIRY FREE OPTIONS– These are my favorite real-food-based vegan cheese options to include on your board.
- Kite Hill cream cheese or ricotta
- Cashew Based Block Cheese
- Or, if you’re looking for a cheese dip that tastes more like a cheddar option, try my vegan queso! You can definitely fancy it up with simple swaps such as replacing the salsa with red pepper jelly to make it wine and cheese party-worthy.
Wine Tasting Snacks
To throw an impromptu party, you won’t want to spend time preparing food, but just serving pieces of cheese won’t do. So, instead of spending hours in the kitchen, think of simple foods that don’t require any cooking or baking. For the easiest option, I like to build a cheese board to serve everything on. If you want, you can even build different cheese boards to go with different types of red wines, sparkling wines, and white wines! To keep things simple, I include snacks that go well with both a light red wine like Pinot Noir and white wines such as Chardonnay. Take a look at my favorite options below!
- Sweet pickles such as cornichon
- Gluten free crackers
- Gluten free snack mix
- Walnuts, almonds, and candied nuts
- Fresh fruit such as grapes, pomegranate, and apple slices
- Dried figs, apricots, and oranges
- Marinated olives
- Dark chocolate and berries (all kinds)
- Honey-sweetened jams and pepper jelly
- Hummus and other dipping sauces like mustards or red pepper
- Artisan meats (uncured meats)
- Simple sweets such as no-bake chocolate covered cookie truffles, lemon macadamia nut cookies or any gluten free (allergy-friendly) store bought cookies/biscuits
- Herbs and pretty flowers, for extra decoration!
To keep things as simple and allergy-friendly as possible, I like to set aside and label two (or more) different boards. For example, the first board could be labeled with vegetarian and nut-free options and the second could be labeled with vegan and gluten-free options. Of course, feel free to mix and match labels and ingredients to meet all your loved ones’ needs! To get you started, a few of my favorite inclusions are roasted pumpkin seeds, olives, smoked salmon, dairy-free dips like salsa con queso and edamame pesto, and vegan cheese!
How to Make a Wine and Cheese Board
Making a picture-worthy wine and cheese board may seem intimidating, but it’s actually super simple! Just follow the steps below to get started.
- Create Structure. Before you begin arranging the food, add any large items such as bowls or decorations to the board to create a sense of structure and prevent chaos.
- Add the Largest Items. Once some structure has been put in place, add the largest food items that can stand on their own to the board first.
- Fill in the Gaps. Using the remaining ingredients, fill in any empty gaps in the board with the smaller, more decorative snacks.
Note: For the most visually appealing board, focus on colors and combinations! For example, pair orange and red items such as fruit and meat together. Next, group green and yellow hues together such as pickles, olives, nuts, and dips. Then, add it all to the board, and garnish your board with fresh herbs and flowers!
See? I told you hosting an impromptu wine and cheese party would be easy! Now, it’s your turn to call your friends, and get the party started! Don’t forget to let me know how it goes down in the comments below.