How To Host An Amazing At-Home Wine & Cheese Tasting On A Budget
Sep 17, 2019
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There's something about hosting a wine and cheese tasting in your home that just makes you feel like a classy adult. Like knowing which bottle of wine to pair with which cheese means that you've really got it all together as a human.
Sure, you could go out and order a cheese board and a bottle of wine at some fancy restaurant. But why waste your money, when you could enjoy just as good of a pairing (if not better!) in the comfort of your own home — without dropping excessive amounts of cash?
Round up your wine and cheese lovin' friends and tell them you're hosting. Then take these simple steps to throw an amazing at-home wine and cheese tasting on a budget!
Note: The specific items we'll be referencing in this post will be Trader Joe's products — not because they sponsor us or anything (although hello, TJ's, we'd be very open to that!) but just because both co-founders shop there to find high quality products at affordable price points. If there isn't a Trader Joe's near you, a) we're so sorry, and b) you are likely able to find all of the items below at a nearby grocery store and Total Wine.
1. Choose your cheeses.
Maybe some people choose their wines first, but really, the cheese is the star of the show here!
Your rule of thumb should be to offer four cheeses: (1) something soft, (2) something semi-firm, (3) something hard-grating, and (4) something funky.
- Soft: Trader Joe's Goat Milk Brie ($2.79 / 4.4 oz)
- Semi-Firm: Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar ($3.99 / 7 oz)
- Hard-grating: Trader Joe's Parmigiano-Reggiano Stravecchio ($14.99 / pound — but you'll of course be getting less than a pound!)
- Funky: Trader Joe's Blue Stilton ($11.99 / pound — again, you'll be getting less than that amount)
2. Pair 'em with wine.
Goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc are a classic pairing for a reason! The delicate tang of your soft Goat Milk Brie will pair beautifully with a crisp, citrus-y bottle of Les Portes de Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc ($5.99).
The smooth, creamy, aged qualities of the Unexpected Cheddar would be best accompanied by the notes of plum and black pepper found in a bottle of the Argentinian wine Bodega Norton Coleccion Malbec ($5.99).
On the other hand, the salty, fatty, somewhat nutty flavors of the Parmigiano-Reggiano Stravecchio have been aged to perfection, and the cheese itself is crumbly and almost crunchy. Keeping all of that in mind, along with the fact that Italian cheese is typically best complemented by Italian wine, pair this fella with the not-too-dry bubbles of Cecilia Beretta Prosecco Superiore ($10.99).
While the Blue Stilton adds a bit of funk to the board, it's suggested here precisely because it's not too funky — so don't worry about turning off anyone who's not usually a blue cheese fan. Rich and creamy, you might think you should pair it with a big red wine, but don't! Unlike a gorgonzola or a traditional blue, a Stilton would go better with an Amontillado Sherry ($4.99), a fortified wine with sweet, nutty notes to balance out the flavors of the cheese.
3. Add in your accoutrements.
Unpopular opinion, but we'll say it anyway: skip the crackers.
The issues is that the four cheeses listed above would each pair better with a totally different type of cracker. And by the time you buy four boxes of different crackers, you've tacked on an extra sum of cash to your grocery bill — and those crackers won't really enhance the flavors of the cheeses you're tasting or the experience of tasting those cheeses with the associated wines you're pairing them with.
Instead of crackers, we recommend opting for other accoutrements that will each pull out specific flavors and tasting notes from your different wine and cheese pairings, like:
- Sun Dried Apricots ($1.49)
- Marinated Olive Duo with Lemon & Herbs ($1.79)
- Truffle Marcona Almonds ($5.99)
- Honey with Honeycomb ($6.49)
4. Find your serving receptacles.
The nice thing about a cheese board is that you can easily set up all of your cheeses and accoutrements on a cutting board and it won't look out of place! If you want to find an affordable cheese board, though, this bamboo option from Amazon looks great and is under $20.
Then, you'll need a plate and a cup or glass for each attendee. You can use the standard plates and wine glasses you already have in your home, if you have enough for everyone. (Sneaky trick: you can get $1 wine glasses and $1 snack plates at the Dollar Store that are actually sturdy and look totally classy!) Or you can opt for a disposable option with small paper plates and 9 oz. clear plastic cups to minimize clean-up.
5. Get your tasting sheets ready.
In addition to enjoying tasty wine and cheese with friends, usually one of the purposes of these sorts of tastings is to learn more about the kinds of wine and cheese that you like.
So, we recommend having at least some lined paper and pens available, if not actual tasting sheets, so people can review and rate each wine and cheese throughout the evening. It gives people the chance to talk about who prefers which type of wine and why, for people to learn who shares the same tastes in cheese, etc.
Ideally, guests will leave with the names of each wine and cheese along with their ratings, so they can go to TJ's and purchase anything they like for themselves after the evening ends!
A few tips:
- First, taste and rate the wine itself, alone
- Next, taste and rate the cheese itself, alone
- Then taste and rate the wine and cheese pairing together
- Then taste the pairing with some of the provided accoutrements to see which ones are the best complements
Other sneaky ways to make hosting less expensive
Go potluck style!
Offer to host (providing a board for the cheese and accroutements, plates, glasses, and tasting sheets) if your guests can bring the wines, cheeses, and accoutrements listed above. There are 12 items total, so divide them among guests as needed!
Another easy way to do this is to create a Google Spreadsheet with a column for the items, a second column for the price, and a third column left blank for your guests to write their names down to claim which things they can bring.
Scale it back.
If four wine and cheese pairings sounds like too many, you can nix the most expensive pairing — the Parmigiano-Reggiano Stravecchio ($14.99/pound) and the Cecilia Beretta Prosecco Superiore ($10.99) — and you'll still have a delicious variety of cheeses and wines to taste throughout your evening!
Use what you already have.
Don't have the specific olives or almonds mentioned above, but already have some olives and almonds in your kitchen? Great! Throw those on your board instead and save a little more money as you prepare for your wine and cheese pairing.
You can also opt not to get that honey with the honeycomb, and just use whatever honey you already have in your home. The honeycomb is just a classy bonus!
Cheers to throwing a wine and cheese tasting on the cheap!
Learn More About Financial Fitness & Saving for a Home From Wyndham Capital Mortgage
Can't host an "at-home" wine and cheese tasting without the "home" part, right?
And the same way you'd work with a coach or fitness instructor to help you get into shape, you can work with experts like our friends at Wyndham to get your finances in order as you aim for goals like improving your credit, building up your savings account, and more as you work toward buying a home.