Host a Cheese Tasting
Need a clever idea for a party? Why not host a cheese tasting? It's a fun way to gather friends for a party, easy to prepare tasty small bites, and sure to keep the party conversation lively.
Cheese Tasting Menu with Appetizers
Selection of French or French-style Soft Cheeses*
Baguette-style French bread*
Melon and Prosciutto
Cucumber Slices Provençal
Sparkling water, white wine—could be sparkling—matched to cheese
*Recipe not included
- Take time to be in-the-know about cheese.
- Decide what cheese you think your guests would enjoy and like to learn about. One variety, different places? Cheese of your favorite part of the world—or where you’d love to travel? Make choices by the season. Cheddars in the fall, blue-veined cheese in winter, chèvre (goat) cheese in warmer months.
- Try the wonderful artisan cheeses available at reasonable prices in groceries, specialty shops, at farmers’ markets and on-line.
- For more ideas, see Varieties of Natural Cheese Chart.
How Much Cheese Is Enough?
- Plan to serve 1 to 2 ounces cheese per guest for appetizers, 2 to 3 ounces cheese per guest for heartier eating—when cheese and its accompaniments replace a meal.
- If your guest list isn’t too large, plan these tastings for your dining table. Cheeses can be portioned out on large dinner plates, tasted in order from mildest to most pungent. Add some of the accompaniments and have others to pass. This plan makes it easier to have a discussion and share what you’ve learned about the cheese.
Make the Most of Your Time
- Most cheese should stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before serving. Keep covered until serving to prevent drying out.
- Look for recipes with Do-Ahead Tips. There’s little to keep you in the kitchen once guests arrive. Now, that’s entertaining.
Compare each cheese based on these 5 characteristics:
- Appearance/Aroma: First impression of the look and smell before tasting.
- Texture: The feel of the cheese in your mouth as you chew it.
- Flavor: The total impression of aroma and texture combined with the flavors you discover as your taste buds are stimulated. Identify specific taste attributes: earthy, buttery, sharp, caramel-like, nutty, milky, peppery, herbal, tart, pungent, grassy, smoky.
- Finish: The flavors that remain after tasting. The big question: Do you like it?
Make Your Cheese Tasting Special!
- Cheese is an essential element of the Spanish cocktail hour custom of tapas. Is there a tapas gathering in your plans?
- The clever Appetizer Cracker Basket is sure to impress when you have the time.
- Have your camera handy. It’s the perfect kind of party for snapping photos of friends. And, another reason to “say cheese.”
Search for recipes by types of cheese you need to use up. Fondue anyone?