Approx 770 words. 4 mins to read.
Missing pubs and restaurants? It’s still possible to enjoy great food and wine in the comfort of your own home. Yes – I’m talking about throwing a cheese and wine night! And it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, I think it’s one of the easiest ways you can make an evening extra special. There’s no cooking involved, which means minimal prep time, and it’s a great way to feed both vegetarians and meat-eaters.
So, I’m going to share my top tips for putting on a spectacular spread, with excellent cheese and wine pairings to match. These are just ideas of course, so feel free to experiment with your own combinations and presentation. You’re in charge after all, so make it your own!
Tips for throwing a cheese and wine night
- Provide a good range of cheeses – My advice would be not too many, but not too few! Opt for a few of soft and hard options to add variety, but don’t overcomplicate things by offering too many. Five or six cheeses is about right.
- Serve your cheese at room temperature – It’s a good idea to take your cheeses out of the fridge a couple of hours before you want to serve them, so they’re not too cold. This is especially important for soft cheeses such as Camembert and Brie, which are best served slightly gooey!
- It’s not all about the wine – Did you know that beer, cider and sparkling wine can work really well with cheese, too? Try a strong dark ale with a creamy Manchego, or a crisp sparkling with a punchy parmesan, for example.
- Make it virtual – Invite more people than your immediate household along to join in the fun – virtually of course! Let them know which wines and cheeses to stock up on beforehand, then let the tasting commence.
- Think about the accompaniments – While I’m not averse to serving up pure, undulterated cheese, you might want to include a few accompaniments to make a proper meal out of the evening. First, think about carbs. I like to go for a range of crackers – try water biscuits, digestives and cream crackers – as well as a crusty loaf or two. Grapes, chutneys, olives, nuts, paté and seasonal fruits all complement cheese very well.
- Think about the vegetarians – Don’t forget that some cheeses, such as parmesan and some blue cheeses, contain rennet and therefore aren’t suitable for veggies. So watch out!
- Get kitted out – Ensure you have the correct tools to make your cheese and wine night a success. A cheese knife is a must, for serving up all your wonderful cheeses, as well as separate glasses for red and white wines. Don’t forget water glasses to cleanse your palate in between tastings and make sure you have a big board to showcase each cheese at its best.
- Make it Insta-worthy – Remember, this is a special occasion so it’s all about making an impact! Think about colour and placement when building your board – perhaps incorporating some fresh fruit or a few olives for variation. It’s an art form, so get creative!
Perfect cheese and wine pairings
Why it works: This creamy and buttery soft cheese, made using British cows’ milk, requires a wine that’s fresh and zesty to cut through the richness. And Co-op Chenin Blanc does just that!
Why it works: This rich and crumbly Wensleydale is studded with sharp bursts of dried cranberries and works well with the pinot noir, which is bursting with cherry aromas. Perfect for when you want something a little lighter-bodied.
Why it works: This Rhone valley red is blended exclusively for Co-op and pairs particularly well with hard cheeses. I’ve matched it with a crumbly Red Leicester here to offset the smooth and silky Cotes du Rhone.
Why it works: The citrus notes in this fantastic Sauvignon Blanc cut through the creaminess of the goat’s cheese perfectly. I love this pairing as it really brings the mellow, salty notes of the goats cheese to life.
Looking to reduce your alcohol consumption? Listen to Co-op’s head of drinks, Simon Cairns, chat about his top tips for anyone looking to change the way they drink, in the Sober Curious episode of the In It Together podcast, brought to you by Co-op.
Co-op Food Editor