A wine and cheese party may be the quintessential choice for an elegant bridal shower party. Women love to nibble and graze and putting out a beautiful spread of cheeses, crackers, fruit and wine (along with some bite size desserts) is just perfect. It is the selection and variety of these items that will set your party apart and above the typical wine and cheese party.
You'll want to offer at least four types of cheeses. It is important to vary the taste and texture of these, as well as the aesthetics. My recommendation would be a good Cheddar (white or yellow), a blue (Maytag blue is a nice choice if you don't want anything too strong), a soft cheese such as Camembert (make sure you bring it to room temperature so that it is at its creamiest when served) and a Gouda. Put a tented place card in front of each cheese with its name on it - your guests will want to know what they are sampling.
I recommend putting a jar of fig preserves (if you can't find fig, you can use raspberry) next to the Camembert cheese. Crackers topped with preserves and a bit of Camembert is absolutely scrumptious.
I also love to serve a 'melted' cheese, either in fondue form or better yet - a brie en croute. The later is a round of brie cheese wrapped in puff pastry and baked until golden. I like to first cut the brie in half (top and bottom - NOT side by side). On the bottom half I spread a thin layer of peach jam, chopped pecans, a teaspoon of brown sugar and just a teeny dash of cayenne. Put the top half over it and then wrap it in the pastry. This can be made a day in advance (not baked though) - just cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Make sure you vary the crackers you put out - just like the cheeses. A butter cracker (such as Keebler Townhouse®), a seeded flat bread cracker and hearty a whole wheat cracker makes for a nice assortment. If you can find other interesting crackers, by all means, include them.
Of course grapes are a perfect compliment and a 'must' for a wine and cheese party. Make sure you serve at least two colors of grapes (green and red). Set out in bunches is how they look the loveliest. But don't stop there - pears are also a natural. Cut the pears into slices right before the guest comes and rub a lemon over their surface to help prevent them turning brown. Cantaloupe and honeydew melons are also a natural compliment. Either cut into thin slices or into cubes. I also love to put out bowls of pomegranate seeds. Not only are they beautiful to look at - they are a delicacy for most.
Like everything else - serve a variety. Two whites and two reds are perfect. For the white - offer one on the sweeter side (perhaps a Riesling) and one more on the dry and crisp side (a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc). As for the red choices - try one on the 'lighter' side (Pinot Noir or Beaujolais Nouveau are good choices) and a full bodied one (a French Bordeaux or Californian Cab would be perfect). Of course make sure there are non-alcoholic beverages too - whether water, club soda or the like.
Keeping with the theme of the party - bite size nibbles such as miniature cheesecake bites, chocolates (truffles and caramels) and/or small biscotti all would work well. These can be set out from the start - no need to 'serve' this after the wine and cheese. Coffee and tea should also be served.
Diva Entertains, copyright 2009