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What’s better during the Holidays than the free flowing wine and abundant cheese platters? Trick question!  There isn’t much better than the Holiday wine and cheeses.  Tipsy Totes would like to offer some simple suggestions on putting together a fantastic spread for your Holiday gathering.

A nice consideration when planning a Holiday party is a respect of the invitees.  Does anyone have food allergies or dietary restrictions that might need to be addressed to accommodate guests? For example, having hummus as an optional veggie dip rather than just ranch to provide an alternative for lactose intolerant folks.  And of course designated drivers and those that don’t drink will want non-alcoholic drink choices.

Think about your budget and how you want to allocate funds.  Are your guests wine connoisseurs? Maybe you want to put more of your budget towards wine? Or are your guests foodies and as long as there are excellent food choices they won’t care about anything else? These questions can go a long way in helping you make some selections on wine and cheeses that can add up pretty quickly.

When pairing wine and cheese the first rule is Pair by flavor intensity, and consider the correlation with age.  A young cheese will pair best with a younger wine.  Older cheeses tend to have a more complex flavor and are typically savory and rich which would pair better with wines that have a bigger body and structure to complement those richer cheese flavors.  When wine is paired with foods the flavors can drastically change from one cheese to another.  If you and your guests are adventurous, host a blind tasting night!

One popular pairings is the sweet and salty type. Sweeter wines balance the saltiest cheeses like Provolone, blue cheese or aged Gouda. The salt in the cheese increases the perception of sweetness in the wine, so a wine that's a bit sweet to begin with will be all the sweeter when paired with a salty cheese.

For more pairings and specifics, we found a fun website with entertaining graphics.  Cupid Cheese is easy to use and informative http://www.cheesecupid.com/.   The best part is they also give beer pairing options – great for a night of experimentation.

If you have specific questions about what to serve there are specialty stores that are happy to help.  Wine shops, large and small are full of wine wisdoms and can offer advice on pairing and getting the most bang for your buck.  Cheese shops are a great source for fresh artisan specialties.  They may be a little harder to find in some neighborhoods, but definitely worth the trip. 

Cheers!