How to host a wine & cheese pairing class
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I'm willing to bet you're in the thick of planning - decor, menu, travel plans....there's a lot that goes into this holiday and despite Covid 19, this year appears to be no different (except perhaps the size of your gathering). Growing up, both sides of my family would always spend Thanksgiving at my parents' house. I was very fortunate my immediate family lived close enough to be able to do this and loved everyone being together for the holiday. This year I will celebrate with a much smaller group, my husband and his Dad and Stepmom, and since we're keeping the food simple, freeing up a lot of time during the day, I know we are going to need an activity. And what is the most popular Thanksgiving activity (second to watching the parade, of course)...day drinking!
Now, I love to "darty" as much as the next person, but this year, I'm making it fancy and giving it a purpose by hosting a wine and cheese pairing class. I use the term "class" very loosely because I am in no way an expert and this activity will actually involve the knowledge of all guests involved. I've included instructions and resources for you and your family/friends to be able to create your own wine and cheese pairing event this holiday season.
Assign each individual/couple a type of wine (or wines) to bring - Red, White, Rosé, Champagene, Sparkling, or you can get specific and assign varietals - Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, etc.
Instruct each individual/couple to learn about the wines(s) they are bringing - Region, of origin, tasting notes, pairings, etc. It doesn't have to be a huge spiel, but enough information for guests to get a good feeling of what they're drinking (note cards are allowed!)
Prepare a cheeseboard - Include a variety of cheeses (hard/soft/bloomy rind, blue) made from different milks (goat/sheep/cow). Serve baguette/crackers on the side for palate cleansing. *See more notes at the bottom of this post
Set out wine glasses - If you have enough glassware, I'd suggest 1 glass per person for reds and 1 glass per person for whites/champagne
Set out wine tasting cards - If you're in the mood for note-taking, print wine tasting cards and place them on the table for guests to fill out as they taste. You might just end up with a new favorite wine or two that you'll want to remember. (I've included a free printable wine scoring card in the resources section at the bottom of this post)
Prepare/find a fancy playlist - The Frank Sinatra station on Pandora always makes me feel classy!
One by one, each individual/couple should present their wine(s) to the group and offer a 3oz pour
Encourage guests to "See, Swirl, Sniff, Sip, Savor" (visit the resources section at the bottom of the post to learn more about this process)
After your initial taste, select appropriate items from the cheeseboard to pair with the wine. Keep in mind, you can keep your board simple with a few cheeses and accoutrements, but if you want to go all out, the IG hashtag #boardswithgourds and my feed @the_cheers_experience will provide lots of inspiration!
Provide a container for guests to pour out unwanted wine (put straws in it and drink it at the end - kidding! But maybe...)
Take it all in - the loved ones at your table, music, wine, food - and enjoy the experience!
Make your cheeseboard the day of to ensure optimal freshness
If planning to refrigerate, leave the crunchy items (nuts, crackers) off until just before serving, otherwise they will get soggy
Take the cheeseboard out of the fridge 30-45 minutes before consumption to allow the cheese and charcuterie to come to room temperature where it will be most flavorful
Include an assortment of accoutrements to ensure each wine will have an appropriate pairing (fresh fruit, dry fruit, olives, nuts, honey/jam, chocolate, etc.)
In need of help choosing your wine?? Bacchus & Books' complimentary Wine concierge service provided pairing assistance for my latest wine tasting, taking a huge weight off my shoulders. They are extremely knowledgeable and offer a vast wine selection at all different price points. They offer contactless drive through pick up for locals (or visitors), or can ship wine directly to your door - it is a no-brainer. Give them a call at 843-566-3034 to help with your next order!