What's in a wine? According to experts, quite a lot. Having had the opportunity some time ago to learn some wine basics, I can personally attest that from the lingo to the variety of flavors that vary between regions, vintages and wine producers, it's enough to make a girl's head spin. As we're all busy modern women, it's understandable you might not have time to pick up a wine primer and learn the difference between grapes (known as varietals) or delve deeper into what foods pair best with which wines. But that's where I'm here to help! Wine and cheese plate pairings are a simple way to put together party apps without having to cook. They also give the impression you're a woman of the world who knows her way around esoteric beverages and foods.
Blue Cheese with Sweet Wines
CNN.com's Eatocracy section advises pairing blue cheese with sweet wines, but what are sweet wines? Pop into your local wine shop and ask for Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon or Port. Add sweet food items along with this pairing — figs or fig jam with pita bread or tortillas works well. Honey, nuts and grapes are also fair game. The above info works for goat cheese, too!
Brie with Pinot Noir
Brie is a rock star app cheese that's available at most grocers. You've likely had it at one or two restaurants, warm and melty on the inside and delicious. As this is in the category of cow's milk cheese, you can pair it with sweet wines (those listed for blue cheese), Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. The foods you pair it with are also similar to those listed above; jams and sweet chutneys paired with crusty French bread are a good match, as are cherries and apples. Look up instructions on how to bake the brie (I know I said no cooking, but this is easy!) to make it that much more spreadable.
Romano with Merlot
Merlot tends to have chocolate, black cherry and plum notes. For a quick plate, throw down nuts, olives and pears. If you want to class it up with a wine and cheese dessert tray, bittersweet pieces of chocolate or berries dipped in dark chocolate will do the trick nicely. People love it when you put together items that don't seem to match (like sweets and cheese) but somehow taste great together.
Cheddar with Malbec and Chianti
Cheddar cheese also goes well with Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, too. If you're going to go this route, aged cheddar steps up this common cheese a notch. You'll also want to invite over your meat lover friends; it tastes wonderful with a variety of salami meats, greasy and salty. This may do the trick for couples night, as opposed to girl's night. Or you could impress a new beau during the game by bringing out this mix on your cutting board.
Gouda with Almost Anything
Need to get rid of your half empty bottles from whenever? Gouda could be your best option. There are 11 wines I found within its pairing range, including Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Chardonnay, Chianti, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Red Zinfandel and Riesling. If you need a tasty food addition, it doesn't get much more affordable than dried fruits and grapes. Arrange everything nicely and your friends won't have to know you're repurposing your leftovers.