Alternative ideas for hosting a cheese tasting
Cheese tastings are one of the classic types of get-togethers, alongside cocktail parties and dinner parties. They are often paired with wine tastings. As wonderful as these events can be, they often feel a little stuffy and restrictive.
If you want to host a cheese tasting and don’t want to stick with the basics but aren’t sure what to do instead, don’t worry. Just like with cheeses, there are a lot of possible options and while not all of them will appeal to you, there will definitely be one or two that you’ll love.
This theme is probably the closest to a classic wine and cheese night, so it’s a good one to consider if you’d prefer to keep things a bit more traditional. Have your guests get dressed up and lay out an elaborate cheese and wine spread. After the guests have mingled and chatted, they can break off to play games.
Set a table aside for playing poker and one for playing blackjack. Consider renting a roulette wheel if that’s possible in your area. If you don’t have the room to set up an actual poker table, consider playing online casino games with your guests. Online casinos now offer a huge range of live dealer casino games alongside their many slots, and you may find many slots to play, even cheese-themed ones!
Wisconsin has a long history with cheese. The town of Colby even gave its name to a type of mild cow’s milk cheese that is similar to cheddar. Colby is so popular, in fact, that a proposal to make it the official state cheese is currently making its way through the state legislature. Sometimes we forget that America’s cheese heritage is a lot more than just American cheese.
A Wisconsin cheese tasting could easily be combined with a football party. Not only do beer and bratwurst go great with cheese, you can also diversify the tasting by including cheese dips. You don’t have to be Green Bay Packers fans to get in on the Cheesehead action!
Blind tastings can be a really fun way for cheese novices and aficionados to put their taste buds to the test and prove their love for cheese. Part of the appeal of this theme is how customizable it is. If your guests aren’t very experienced with different types of cheese, you can make it very basic and have them distinguish between cheddar, goat, brie and bleu, etc. This could be a great way to introduce your ‘contestants’ to their new favorite cheeses.
If your guests are true cheese lovers, you can get as specialized as you’d like. You could have your guests attempt to distinguish between regional varieties of bleu cheese or types of goat cheese, for example. You could even offer a prize for whoever knows their Emmental from their Appenzeller.
If you really want to lean into the game show element, you can have prizes for the person who correctly identifies the most cheeses and perhaps a consolation prize (possibly a cheese guide?) for the person who has the least developed cheese palate. Prizes could range from a fresh wedge of one or two of the tastiest cheeses of the night to something more substantial, such as a cheese board or serving set.
A fun alternative to a traditional cheese tasting is to host one featuring a specific region. Nowadays, most countries produce their own versions of the most popular cheeses but their regional specialties are still incredibly important culturally and can include some of the most interesting and unique cheeses you will come across.
An old French proverb says that there is a different cheese for every day of the year. While many of these are incredibly difficult to source outside of their region – not to mention that serving 365 cheeses would be more than a little impractical! – having a French cheese night would be a great way to introduce your guests to options beyond brie and camembert.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of throwing a regionally-themed party is that you can get creative with so many different parts of the party. The music, decorations, food and drinks can all be related to the theme. This could be as simple to handing your guests sombreros at the door before letting them at the cotija and crema agria, or as complex as pairing Italian wines and cured meats with cheeses from the same province.