Wine and cheese table
If you've been wanting to host a gathering but can't face putting together a multicourse menu, a wine-and-cheese-tasting party is a simple, elegant solution.

Where to Have It?
This is a party that fits on a deck, in a living room, almost anywhere. The components of a tasting are so portable and simple that it's feasible to wait until the very last minute to decide whether to set up under the moonlight or out of the rain.

The Key Ingredients
Your biggest task is to assemble the components. Fine cheeses are beautiful, handcrafted objects and, like wine, each one has a rich backstory. Savor the shopping as you taste samples of cheese and deliberate whether to let cheese or wine be the party's starting point, says O at Home's contributing food editor Susan Spungen.

Since this is a tasting—not a gulping—one bottle of wine should serve three to four people. As for cheese quantities, the rule of thumb is to calculate between two and four ounces of each cheese per person. Susan recommends letting cheeses sit at room temperature for one to two hours before serving for optimal flavor and consistency. Conventional wine wisdom is to serve whites chilled to between 46°F and 50°F (about two hours in the refrigerator) and reds at about 60°F (slightly cooler than room temperature).

Let the Matchmaking Begin
Susan offers suggestions for wine-and-cheese pairings but advises you to check with your local cheese shop and wine clerk—they might have local or seasonal specialties worth trying. And no need to break the bank on the beverage end—each of Susan's wine recommendations costs under $25!

Matchmaking 101: Get Susan's pairing advice!