Host a Holiday Cheese Pairing Party

December 1, 2019

There is something so festive and satisfying about enjoying cheese and wine at parties. The slightly astringent, yet fruity wine experience pairs perfectly with the smooth texture and full flavour of the cheese. 

But there are as many types of both wine and cheese as there are ornaments in the New York Central Park Christmas tree. While most of us probably go for our old favourites when it comes to wine, and familiar cheeses, there are so many new tastes waiting to be explored. In fact, wine and cheese don’t always have to be the only party pairing. How about cheese with a complimentary beer?

Our Perfect Pairings for the Season!
We’ve picked three cheeses to try this season, and our expert sommeliers at Co-op Wine Spirits Beer have matched them with just the right tastes.

baked brieBake up some Brie
Brie is a soft, very creamy cheese with a thick rind, which can (and should!) be eaten. The flavour varies greatly, depending on how it’s made. 

A classic appetizer option for your next gathering is a beautiful, warm and melty baked brie (recipe below). Choose classic bries like Bel Haven Triple Cream Brie, Alexis de Portneuf Brie D’Alexis Double Cream Brie, or Alexis de Portneuf Camembert.

What to serve with it? Brie’s texture and body pairs best with acidic or lush beverages. 

When it comes to wines, we suggest:

  • White wine: Chardonnay, a white wine with plenty of body and acidity, which helps to cleanse the palate after taking a bite of creamy brie. This goes very well with the recipe below. Try it with Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay or Kim Crawford Pinot Gris.
  • Red wine: Pinot Noir, especially one with fruity notes like the Social Collection Bin 116 Pinot Noir.

Baked Brie with Herbs and Red Wine

  • 1 (200 - 300g) double or triple cream Brie
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • splash of red wine
  • 1 fresh Baguette
  1. Place brie in brie baker
  2. Slice the top of the rind off (thinly)
  3. Peel garlic and slice into shards - spike four or five of these into the surface of the cheese
  4. Pour a couple of glugs of red wine onto the cheese and pop a sprig or two of fresh thyme on top
  5. Put on lid, place in hot oven (400 degrees) for about 1 minutes or until the cheese starts to froth
  6. Serve with baguette

gruyere white wineWhat to pair with Gruyere?
Gruyere cheese is an aged, hard, yellow cheese that originates form Switzerland (thus, a Swiss cheese). It is both sweet and salty, and it goes from nutty to earthy with age. What sips go well with Gruyere cheese?

  • White Wine: We recommend St Hubertus Pinot Blanc, a dry, fresh white with substance and acidity.
  • Red Wine: Try a bottle of Social Collection Bin 116 Pinot Noir. This ABA judges’ selection has bright red fruit tones and fresh acidity that will complement the cheese’s salty, firm texture. A little earthy Pinot Noir note will do well alongside a complex, younger, nutty cheese.
  • Beer: Schneider Weisse Doppelbock or a Porter.

Be Tempted by Tete de Moine
The name of this cheese literally means “monk’s head”, and was originally produced by monks in Bernese Jura, a French-speaking area of Switzerland. What is unusual about this cheese is the way that it’s eaten. It should be placed on a contraption called a girolle cheese curler that scrapes the cheese, rather than cutting it. This method allows the cheese to release its aroma and melting flavour. No special cheese cutter? No problem, use a sharp knife or even a vegetable peeler to carefully scrape thin slices.

Tete De MoineWhat beverages pair well with Tete de Moine cheese?

  • White Wine: RABL Gruner Veltliner. Hailing from Austria, this zippy, clean and high acid white wine is a perfect match to the pungent, sharp, salty cheese cleansing your palate and keeping things fresh.
  • Red Wine: This full-flavoured, complex cheese needs an equal dance partner, go big and bold here. Cabernet Sauvignon or a Syrah would be our suggestion. We’d love to crank open a a bottle of Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes-Hermitgae Syrah for a delightful pairing.
  • Beer: Fullers London Pride Ale, a rich, round full flavoured ale to match the intensity of the cheese. Sweet malt characteristics will contrast the salty flavour profile.

These are no ordinary cheese and wine (and beer) pairings. These are carefully chosen to highlight the unique traits of both the beverages and the cheese. We suggest that next time you’re invited to a holiday party (or host one yourself) take along plenty of one of these cheeses, plus the matching white wine, red wine, or beer options that go best with them. There will be something for everyone, and it will let you introduce your crowd to a new taste that’s perfectly curated.

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