Wine and cheese pairing party

What a better way to spend a 23rd birthday than indulging in impeccable wine, divine cheese with fabulous company. My favourite pastime is sipping fine wine, so naturally I wanted a wine pairing party for the occasion. I was fortunate enough to collaborate with Howard Park Winery and The Herdsman Market for this event. To say their products perfected the day is an understatement. Here is a rundown of the coordination, planning and execution of the day.

Invitations: 

There’s something so heartfelt about a physical invitation, it really gives that personal touch to any event. I made my invitation on Canva, but sought the envelopes from FionaAriva. Usually I make my envelopes but I knew I’d be pressed for time, luckily Fiona was kind enough to make 20 of the beautiful ‘Matcha’ envelopes for me. The piece de resistance however, was the champagne wax seal, a perfect final touch for the invitations.

Set up: 

With a backyard set up, I wanted a rustic vineyard aesthetic. Think wooden features brightened by natural green foliage and of course, a grazing table. I hired the barrel bar, hardwood stool, rustic wagon wheel and glasses from Cockburn party hire. Pellets are a great alternative for an event, rather than hiring tables/chairs. Stacking pellets on top of each other to create a bench and mini bar is a much cheaper alternative. Luckily I had a friend who donated pellets to me, but alternatively there are so many ads on Facebook marketplace.

When it comes to decorating, you want to skip fragrant floral centrepieces or scented candles as they will only compete with the aromas of the wines. Rather, I arranged Eucalyptus, unscented wax candles and vintage tea lights for a rustic touch.

The goal of a wine tasting is not just to discover new wines you like, but also to start a conversation about wine. A fun interactive aspect was the wine scoring cards. Evaluating each wine on its attributes was a great deal of fun as it allowed guests to fully appreciate the notes, flavours and overall likeliness of wine. I downloaded my score cards here. Additionally I placed these pairing posters around the pellets so the guests knew which wines and cheeses to pair.

WINES- Howard Park: 

For a wine tasting you obviously want to start from lightest to heaviest. We did a complete tasting from Sparkling, three Whites, Rosé, three Reds and a Muscat.

I was fortunate enough to collaborate with Howard Park for my White wines with their newest Wine Club exclusive collection; Arbor Novae.

Arbor Novae draws inspiration from its surroundings, partnering with environmental charity Carbon Positive Australia. For every bottle of Arbor Novae sold, $1.50 will be donated to help support local tree planting and landscape restoration. The new range is available from April 22nd, Earth Day, exclusively to the winery’s Wine Club members.

I wanted to band together wineries to compare their flavours. Aside from the Sparkling and Muscat, I chose Howard Park, Ludo Le Francais and Old Fat Unicorn. Heres a list of the wines we had, brought from Dan Murphys:

Sparkling: 

  • Tempus Two: Prosecco $10 bottle

Whites:

  • Howard Park: 2019 Margaret River Chardonnay
  • Howard Park: 2020 Pinot Gris from the estate Mount Barrow vineyard in Mount Barker
  • Howard Park: 2021 Old Vine Riesling from the Gibraltar Rock vineyard in Porongurup.

Reds: 

  • Ludo Le Francais: Rosé Vin de France $8 bottle
  • Ludo Le Francais: Pinot Noir IGP Pays d’Oc $10 bottle
  • Old Fat Unicorn: South Australia Shiraz $13.99
  • Old Fat Unicorn: South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon $13.99

Dessert Wine: 

  • Fermoy Aged Muscat $30

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the Reds (a few glasses 0f vino can do that to you.)

CHEESE PAIRINGS- Herdsman Market:

Wine is meant to be enjoyed with food. The perfect match can bring out subtle characteristics in a wine and enhance your tasting experience. A simple, foolproof way to complement wine is with cheese. There is many tips when pairing wine with cheese, here is the basic rule of thumb:

Pair wines with cheeses of equal intensity

So you’d want to pair Sparkling wines with incredibly soft, mild creamy cheeses that will bring out the delicate mellow notes of the wine. Sparkling wines have higher acidity and carbonation therefore a creamy sticky cheese will offer a great palate-cleansing effect. Alternatively you’d pair bold reds with hard, aged, bitey and smellier cheeses as the tannins in the wine bind with the protein and fat content of the cheese, counteracting each other. Consequently the oakier or bolder a wine gets the bolder the cheese should be.

When I visited the Herdsman, cheese manager Leigh was an expert on running me through these pairings. She picked out a great selection of cheeses for me (the Brebirousse D’Argental my personal favourite).

Here is how I paired my wines and cheeses:

  • Prosecco: Triple cream Brie
  • Riesling: Pairs perfectly with any sheep or goats milk. I paired with Goats cheese and Brebirousse D’Argental (My god this sheeps milk cheese was incredible, everyone was complimenting it the entire day)
  • Pinot Grigio: French style Camembert
  • Chardonnay: Shadows of Blue Gippsland (Chardonnay is the oakiest of all whites so you’d still want to pair with a soft creamy cheese, but with a sharper  bite)
  • Rosé: Two sisters Serafina. This SA cheese is hard, but softens quickly in your mouth. Its rich flavour is almost butterscotch-like with a nutty, salty taste. Rosé is also great with Halloumi.
  • Pinot Noir: Danish Havarti (Pinot also pairs fabulously with sheeps/goats milk so the Brebirousse D’Argental.
  • Shiraz: Stilton Blue but also great with Two sisters Serafina.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Cab Sav’s are best with a hard, aged cheddar. To be honest, I forgot to grab one. So I paired it with a Manchego. They say to pair Manchego with Tempranillo’s (dry reds). The Old Fat Unicorn Cab Sav was quite dry, so this actually paired exceptionally.
  • Muscat: Auricchio Parmigiano Reggiano. Because by this point, everyone needed a solid hard cheese to soak up all the alcohol.

Of course you want to pair cheeses with other charcuterie products, for example Hummus pairs excellently with Sparkling and Whites. Edible flowers also brightened up the board beautifully.

Meats of course you’ll want to pair with cheeses. The workers at the Herdsman are great, I just told them the cheeses I’d picked and they sorted the rest! There is such a wide variety of meats to choose; from prosciutto’s, aged wagyu’s, salami’s, hams you name it they have it. Crackers, breads also necessary. Luckily all grazing products are pretty much located in the same area at the Herdsman with crackers and quinces next to the delicatessen. Luckily there’s also a bakery attached for fresh bread.

And we can’t forget about sweets of course. It was honesty hard to try and contain myself from buying all of the delicious pastries at the Herdsman, especially with their Easter chocolate out front. I ended up going with Honeycake, mixed doughnuts and cannoli’s. Believe it or not these were the first to go!

Grazing board: 

The grazing board was definitely the centrepiece of the event.

Ultimately the day was better than I hoped and boy, who knew 15 girls could polish off 23 bottles of wine.

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