With fall just around the corner, parties are heading indoors and the holiday vibes are getting turned UP. If you love to entertain, now is your time to shine — and not just by hosting epic dinner parties. Instead, it’s time to learn about wine, nom on cheese, and generally live the good life with a wine and cheese party. If you’re ready to throw this super schnazzy sort of mixer, here’s what you need to know.

Invite the Right Number of People

Wine and cheese parties aren’t exactly keggers. This is going to be a relatively small, intimate gathering. Try to choose 10-15 invitees (not including yourself) who you *know* are going to hit it off. Maybe they’re all creative types, or maybe they’re all foodies. Or, if you’re a parent, maybe they are couples with kids who could REALLY use some adult time.

Make Prep Work Easy

One of the big perks of throwing a wine and cheese party is that you don’t need to cook. Keep things simple — spend your time scoping out the best cheeses and wines to serve at your soiree, rather than slaving away in the kitchen. Buy pre-made appetizers, like pate, crackers, olives, and fresh fruit. Well, and obviously cheese.

Consider a theme

This step is completely optional, but give some thought to whether or not you’d like to incorporate a theme. Usually, by nature of wine and cheese, these themes will be location related (French wine and cheese, anyone? Or new-world wines and cheeses, perhaps). But feel free to get more creative if you’d like!

A few of our favorite ideas: Sip on wine and dine on cheese while you listen to new releases from your favorite music, and critique the food/wine and the music at the same time. Or, make it a trivia night and play games while you sip and swirl — but keep the trivia foodie-related.

set the stage for flavor

This step is all about foreseeing how long into the future you need to purchase your cheese, and how early you should open your wine. Here’s the scoop on each.

Buy the cheese 2-3 days before the party. Take it out of the fridge at least two hours ahead of time, as its flavors will be more pungent at room temperature.

As for the wine, red varietals — especially tannic ones such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah (and Shiraz), and Tempranillo — need to breathe for a few hours. Open the bottle and pour it into a decanter about an hour before the party. White wines only need to breathe for roughly 25 minutes, so just open them 10 minutes before your guests arrive. As a side note, if you’re serving crisp white and sparkling wines (think Brut, Champagne, or Sparkling Rose), make sure you chill the glasses in your fridge to get them nice and cool.

Pair the right cheeses with the right wines

Prior to your party, make sure that you do some research about which wines and cheese pair well together. This can be easily accomplished with a Google search, but here are a few of our favorite combos:

  • Prosecco and Parmesan
  • Chardonnay and Guyere
  • Riesling and Ricotta
  • Pinot Grigio and Mozzerella
  • Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese
  • Cabernet Sauvignon and Aged Gouda
  • Malbec and Aged Cheddar
  • Pinot Noir and Brie
  • Merlot and Monterey Jack
  • Syrah and Camembert

Encourage Openness

A lot of people come into a wine and cheese party feeling intimidated. Let’s face it: Most of us aren’t wine experts (much as we *love* our vino). So before the tasting starts, encourage everyone to speak their mind. Let them know that among true foodies and winos, there are no wrong or right answers… it’s all about using your senses and enjoying the ride. Whatever tasting notes come to mind, or whatever memories the vino may inspire, that’s totally okay.

Don’t Waste Your Leftovers

One of the saddest things about wine and cheese parties is that they don’t last, amiright? However, you can still enjoy your fare long after the party has ended… you just need the right supplies to do it.

Wine, for example, needs to be properly sealed up, or it will continue to oxidize and lose its profile within a matter of days. FoodSaver Bottle Stoppers are the perfect tool to help you sip on your wine long after the party has ended.

And as for cheese? The entire FoodSaver system can let you preserve it for a long time to come. The vacuum seal will keep it nice and fresh, giving you the option to snack on it whenever you feel a hankering for some fine cheese.

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