Some people say Valentine’s Day is cheesy … and we couldn’t agree more! Why? Because WINE and cheese were MFEO (made for each other)! We say embrace the cheesiness and celebrate your sweetie with a DIY wine and cheese date night this Valentine’s Day.
Here’s our step-by-step plan for a wine and cheese date night at home.
Step One: Create A Memorable Menu
The beauty of a wine and cheese night is its simplicity. Basically, it’s snacks-for-dinner (best night ever). Start by making a list of charcuterie (meats) and cheeses you both love—or want to try—and add in some extras like smoky almonds, crunchy veggies, chunks of gourmet chocolate, pull-apart bread, herby dips, and olives. Then, decide on a few different wine varietals to taste with your cheese pairings. A bottle of red, a bottle of white—and a sweet and fizzy wine for the perfect finish.
Not sure where to start? Here are our suggestions for winning wine and cheese pairings.
Shop Valentine Wines
You can find these and other new-to-you cheeses at your local cheese shop, or any gourmet grocery store, and your Traveling Vineyard Wine Guide can help you with the perfect wine pairings. If you already have a bottle or two of Traveling Vineyard wine at home, check the back of your bottle for the Sommology QR code and scan it to unlock pairings right from your mobile device. Each wine has its own list of cheese pairings!
Step Two: Arrange Your Tasting Board Together
Prepare all the ingredients for your wine and cheese night ahead of time, including washing veggies, slicing cheese, setting out a large cutting board (or tray) for your bite-sized feast, and chilling the wine!
We like to follow the 20/20 rule when it comes to chilling wine. For your white wines and sweet wines, chill them overnight and then remove from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving. For reds, chill for 20 minutes immediately before serving. Then, set your ingredients out on the table with some fresh flowers and candles, and arrange your wine and cheese board together.
Step Three: Sip and Savor with Your Sweetie
Tasting time! Turn on some tunes and get ready to taste with our simple steps to tasting wine.
Observe the Color & Clarity
Observing the color of the wine can tell you a lot about the wine. Note the color by holding your glass up against a sheet of white paper. Younger red wines tend to be more brilliant while older reds are darker and more opaque. Younger white wines are vibrant and paler compared to older white wines that present a richer golden color.
Assess the Body
Tilt your glass so that the wine glides up the side of the glass. Then, stand the glass upright and watch as the wine falls back into the glass. A light-bodied wine will fall quickly and leave little trace on the glass. A full-bodied wine will fall more slowly and leave streaks, referred to as “legs.”
Experience the Nose
The nose of a wine is how it smells. For aging wines, you might hear this referred to as the “bouquet.” For younger wines, it’s the “aroma.” There are two steps to experiencing the nose of a wine. First, sniff the wine in the glass and observe the subtle scents. Second, swirl the wine in the glass by placing your glass on a flat surface and moving it in a circular motion, which allows the wine to “breathe”—then take a second sniff.
Note the Taste
Finally, it’s time to taste the wine! Take a first sip and note the flavors you identify. Then, take a second sip and try and breathe in as you do. Hold the sip in your mouth for a moment and note the more pronounced flavors. Also, take note of the finish or aftertaste with attention to how long the flavor lasts and if it tingles on your tongue (indicating the level of acidity).
Pair the Wine
Once you have experienced each wine on its own and made your first impressions, it’s time to pair the wines with your cheese. As you do, note whether the flavor changes. Does the wine taste softer, or bolder? Does the wine smooth out the taste of the cheese, or vice versa? What words would you use to describe the pairing? Discuss your experiences together, and pair with some unexpected flavors from your tasting board for further discussion. For more wine tasting education, take the next step and host a tasting event at your home with a Wine Guide.
Share the Love
Snap pics of your romantic wine and cheese date night and tag #travelingvineyard on Instagram, where you can also find a pairing gallery created by Traveling Vineyard Wine Guides using the hashtag #wineguidelife!
Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your perfect pair!