We had a wonderful time hosting our most recent cheese and wine pairing evening over at our shop. It’s always an evening filled with learning, laughter, and plenty of unique flavours. We often get asked for advice on hosting pairing evenings, so we thought we would compile a list of our top tips for organising your tasting event. Scroll down to learn more!
1. Label, Label, Label.
When you’ve attended a tasting event, the worst thing is not being able to remember that amazing pairing that you tried. Labels make it easy for people to know and remember what they are eating. You could make pairing sheets like the one above (taken from our June 2023 cheese and wine pairing evening where each of the items is written in Sharpie pen on greaseproof paper); or, for a more casual approach, pop a label on each item, maybe suggesting which flavours pair well together.
2. Get creative.
Try to invent some unique combinations using flavours you already own. Some of our best ideas have been inspired by things we already had in the cupboard (I’m looking at you, Aettis and Nutella). Think something might work but aren’t sure? Try it! We all have different palettes, and not every guest will enjoy every pairing, but that’s the fun of it.
Don’t be afraid to try out some different ideas – you might discover a delicious pairing you never knew you needed. Some of our cupboard favourites include marmalade, lemon curd, mango chutney, custard creams, and Garibaldi biscuits…….so many household classics work. The more unusual the better!
3. Think about geography.
This is a really simple way to find pairings that work: wines and cheeses from the same geographical area will often work together. Consider Loire Valley white wines like Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, and Touraine, with Loire Valley goats’ cheeses like Cabri d’ici. Or try Pecorino Romano with Italian whites such as Lugana or Cortese, complemented by pairings like Panettone. Setting your tasting out geographically is also a really nice way to tie all the pairings together into one theme.
4. Have additional accompaniments.
It’s a good idea to have bread, crackers, and other little snacky bits to accompany your pairings. This can make your cheese and wine pairing evening into more of a meal and can also act as a more conventional pairing for those who aren’t quite as adventurous with their flavours! It is also a good idea to have plenty of water on hand, to settle the wine but also to act as a palette cleanser between pairings.
5. Ask for advice.
Feeling like you are completely out of your depth? Ask the experts! There are plenty of independent wine and cheese companies out there, full of great advice and eager to offer help. Independent retailers will also be able to offer more unique products to try or be able to recommend tailored ideas based on your preferences.
At The Cheese Society, we are always eager to help people plan their cheese and wine pairing nights: we learn a lot from our customers and what they enjoy. So, just reach out over an email, or pop into our shop in Lincoln to have a chat about all things cheesy. Any questions, just drop us a line here [email protected]
6. Split the cost.
Splitting the cost of a cheese and wine evening between friends helps to make the event more accessible and affordable. It can also open up the opportunity to try some more expensive, unusual wines and cheeses than those you would usually try.
Of course, a good tasting experience is still to be had using cheaper wines and cheeses but if you want to treat yourself to something fancier, splitting the cost may be the best way to achieve this. But it’s also important to remember, when tasting a range of cheeses and wines you don’t need a lot of each, less is more.
We usually serve around 100ml of each wine and around 50g of each cheese, so this doesn’t need to be a pricey tasting.
7. Have fun with your cheese and wine pairing!
Tasting evenings are meant to be a fun place to experiment with different cheese and wine pairings and enjoy the time with your friends and family, so don’t put too much pressure on. Who loves or hates a particular pairing? You’ll certainly remember it! Just have a fun evening with your favourite people and make memories for the years to come.
Well, those were our seven top tips for hosting your own cheese and wine pairing evening. We hope they offered some guidance.
Remember, we are always available over email ([email protected]) to answer any questions. Please also tag us in your pairing evening pics on Instagram! We love to see what other people come up with and get inspired for our own cheese and wine pairing evenings.
A big thank you to Ben over at @LINCOLNWINESCHOOL for helping us out with these tips. Ben has been a long-standing cheesemonger at The Cheese Society for a long time and hosts our in-house cheese and wine evenings, as well as his own under his small business. He is our go-to man for all things wine (and biscuits)!