How to Host the Perfect Wine and Cheese Night – College Edition

 Photo by Ingrid Hofstra

Photo by Ingrid Hofstra

Once upon not such a long time ago, the typical idea of a college party involved endless amounts of cheap beer, crazy stunts, and terrible hangovers frequently followed by regrets over the events of the previous night. Well, while the college party culture is alive and kicking, as it should - the tides are turning. Now we’re seeing an inclination towards more sophisticated events, ones that have wine and cheese instead of beer and chips. This change has been brought on by no other than the millennial generation. This is a generation that appreciates both novelty and authenticity, plus there’s the financial factor – you may not be able to afford a sports car or even high-end clothing, but you can at least enjoy little luxuries such as fine wine and great cheese, so let’s see how you can organize a super-classy yet mellow event of this kind. 

Do your homework

In case you were wondering, yes, there is more to it than just being able to distinguish red from white. As the host, your main job is to cater to every taste. That calls for a variety of wines that will go well with each type of cheese, so let’s begin with the reds.

Your only job is to pick the type of wine that fits into your budget but is still delicious. Your best bets include the Pinot Noir. It goes down smooth but bites at the end with its bitter aftertaste. The smoothness outdoes the strong aftertaste by far, making it the perfect choice. If you want to expand your red offer, go with Cabernet Sauvignon from California – both are amazing and won’t break the bank. If you aren't feeling either one, there are also numerous shops that cater to different needs, such as the amazing bottle shop in Haymarket

Now, let’s talk glasses for red wines. It calls for those with a bigger bowl that allow room for swirling, and you can get affordable ones at any kitchen supply store.

As for the cheeses, red wine has a stronger taste than white, so it needs a worthy cheese match. Cheddar, a sharp cheese, is the perfect match for Pinot Noir, while semi-hard, aged cow’s milk cheeses with extended age such as aged Gouda go amazingly well with Cabernet Sauvignon.

When it comes to pairing, white wines pose a much easier task as they go well with a great variety of cheeses. Riesling, for instance, is a fine and affordable wine that works wonders for the palate when combined with Brie (especially on a cracker). Then we have something super creamy and so tasty it’s almost addictive – goat cheese, that is a match made in heaven with Sauvignon Blanc. Now, if you have a taste for stronger (smellier) cheeses or you know your friends do, don’t shy away from the blue cheese as it also works magically well with Blanc.

As far as glasses go for white wines, the perfect ones are smaller, and you can even go with stemless wine glasses that work for both red and white; plus they exude that casual but chic ‘French bistro vibe’ and will save you the trouble of thinking which wine goes in which glass – you’re in college after all.

The measuring cup

Nothing kills a party like the dwindling of supplies. So, if you’re on a tight budget, make smart choices about the people you’ll invite.

The general rule of thumb is 1-2 ounces of cheese per person and one bottle of wine for every 5-6 people. If your friends are bigger wine drinkers than this, stock up on a few extra bottles. If you can afford them, additional snacks that go great with the cheeses, such as crackers, sliced baguette, fruits, berries, nuts, and olives are a really nice and classy touch.

As for serving, wooden boards are the classiest, and again, you can get them (or those round wooden plates) at places like Ikea for next to nothing, but the presentation will make all the difference.

Final touches

Don’t concern yourself with party tunes so much; after all, this is more of a mellow sort of evening – a low-key gathering, not a rager. Keep the volume high enough for the music to fill the room but low enough so that people can mingle and have great conversations. Sip slowly, enjoy the blending of the cheeses and wines, mingle, make sure everyone is having a good time, and if the mood strikes you, games are usually a crowd-pleaser. 

Tracey Clayton