For our most recent Open Kitchen Conversation, we brought together 15 women behind California’s most exciting food, wine, and cheese destinations for a great meal and inspiring conversation at our original Sonoma store. Inspired by this fabulous meeting of the minds — and the local wine and cheese that was served — we thought we’d share with you 10 pro tips to hold your own California-style wine and cheese party.
1. BYOW. Ask guests to bring their favorite $30 (or less) bottle of wine, along with the story of when they first discovered it.
2. All the Milks. Take a note from Cowgirl Creamery by building a cheeseboard with cheese made with cow, goat, and sheep milk to provide a sense of how flavors vary milk to milk.
3. Why Not DIY? From topping personal pizzas to making pasta together, have your guests get their hands dirty by building the meal together. Friends that cook together, stay together.
4. Easy as 1, 2, 3. Because everyone loves dessert, make it easy on yourself by combining fresh seasonal fruit, creme fresh, and pre-made pastry from your favorite local bakery.
5. Red Wine. Pair reds with stronger cheeses like blue, stilton and roquefort.
6. White Wine. Pair whites like chardonnay and sauvignon blanc with mild cheeses like burrata, mozzarella and goat.
7. Rosé. While rosé plays well with mild cheeses, it’s also a refreshing accompaniment to fresh fruit, sweet pastry, or chocolate. Plus, it makes for an Instagram-worthy photo.
8. Beyond basic. Go beyond just crackers by accompanying cheese with flavor-enhancing accoutrements such as savory items like olives and garlic, or sweet bites like dried apricot and honeycomb.
9. Go deep. Deepen your guests’ understanding of cheese by selecting three cheddars from different regions or different cheeses from the same geographic region, labeling the cheeses and their place of origin.
10. Think variety. Consider texture by arranging cheeses with a variety of textures. Think creamy, crumbly, smooth, dense, grainy and curdy.
Learn more about 14 women in the California wine and cheese business here:
Get all your wine and cheese-pairing supplies here and be sure to share your wine-party pics on Instagram using the hashtag, #MyWilliamsSonoma.