“I couldn’t live without cheese!”
In early June, I hosted a vegan Wine and Cheese Party for my pregan (aka pre-vegan, aka non-vegan) friends and family. It was a tremendous success, and I know that my guests walked away thinking much higher of vegan cheese than they either expected or thought before.
I feel like this was a wonderful introduction to vegan-friendly foods for folks—especially since cheese is often the barricade at the end of the roadway to compassion. If this is something you think you would like to host for your friends and family, I’ll offer some tips below.
Name: Vegan Wine and Cheese Party
Day/Time: Friday, 6pm (I would suggest a 7 pm start time as 6pm was a bit early)
Guests: I think about 14 had made an appearance. I started by inviting only women, but ended up opening the invitation to men in my family and another guy-friend to keep my husband company.
- Fauxmage Herbes de Provence
- Treeline Herb & Garlic
- Daiya Cheddar
- Daiya Jalapeno Havarti
- Daiya Smoked Gouda
- Miyoko’s Double Cream Chive
- Miyoko’s Sharp Farmhouse
- Follow Your Heart
- Chao Creamy Original
- Chao Tomato Cayenne
- Sama Spread Jalapeno Almond Cheese
- Yalumba Y Shiraz
- Yalumba Y Voignier
- Yalumba Y Chardonnay
- Bogle Merlot
- Basignani Reisling
- Cline Cashmere
- McManis Petite Sirah (a favorite)
- Big Cork Malbec
- Airlie 7 White Blend
- Adelsheim Pinot Gris
- Theo Dark Chocolate, 1 bar (not enough)
- Charm School Chocolate White Chocolate, 1 bar (not enough)
- Kalamata Olives, 1 tub (not enough)
- Crunchmaster Crackers (gluten-free)
- Back to Nature Classic Round Crackers
What worked well…
I planned what I would buy well in advance. I checked the local markets to see who sold what and for what price. I made a list, and I prepared for my shopping trips.
I chopped and sliced cheese to display ahead of time. The Daiya blocks I chopped into cubes, the Chao slices I quartered to make little square slices for crackers.
I worked only half day the day of the party so I could set up. I set out plates, cheese boards, and little labels for what food items went where.
I tried my hardest to see what cheeses would pair well with what wines. I even bought a wine-cheese pairing wheel. Unfortunately, most vegan cheeses (with a few exceptions) don’t call themselves a comparable dairy-cheese name. So it’s tough to know what cheese they’re most like. And while I loved cheese as a non-vegan, it’s been so long since I’ve had cheese that I couldn’t remember what cheeses my plant-based cheeses most resembled. So I was somewhat blindly pairing cheeses. I’d love to meet a sommelier or a cheese-nerd to see what suggestions they’d offer.
What I would have done differently…
The Facebook/email invites I sent didn’t seem to be taken as seriously as I would have liked. I think, in the future, I’d send mail-invites with actual RSVP information. Despite responding “going” on Facebook, a number of folks cancelled at the last minute. A lot of planning (and money) goes into a party like this, and it was a bit disappointing to have bought all this cheese and had a lower attendance than planned. Not a big deal, because I love eating vegan cheese and I don’t mind the leftovers, but I could have saved some money.
I had 11 bottles of wine and 11 cheeses, I think. I needed more wine, less cheese.
Be prepared for red wine spills on your white chairs… ><
No, seriously…Someone spilled red wine on my white accent chair…
Offer more than just cheese. While I can munch on vegan cheese for weeks (and proceeded to do so following this party as I had that much extra cheese), I realized that few other cheese lovers can usually munch on just cheese all night—even if it were dairy-based cheese. The crackers, grapes, olives, nuts, dates, and chocolate that I set out were not enough.
I also bought similar cheeses. I realized that I ended up buying what I like—creamy, herb-y, and/or spicy. I was afraid to offer other cheeses that I hadn’t tried because I wasn’t sure folks would like them. But it would have been good to have more variety.
Many guests offered to bring items. While I was hesitant at first because I feared I couldn’t control for non-vegan ingredients, on the last day I was out of money and welcomed the offer. I would have been prepared for guests to offer to bring food (but not relied on this assumption) with a list of simple ingredients—pistachios, pears, apples, etc.—that they could have brought. That being said, I did tell one of my friends she was welcome to bring baguettes (sans dairy) when she offered, but she didn’t even go out to look for them!! Hah, good thing I had plenty of other options!
I forgot to put out dips and spreads. Stone-ground mustard, spicy jelly, or other spreads would have paired well with the cheeses. But in the flurry before guests arrived, I forgot to retrieve them from the fridge!
Also, next time, I’ll make goodie bags. Although I set out all sorts of free literature, recipes, coupons, stickers, etc., I think maybe one guest took stuff home…
My favorite part of the evening was hearing people’s reactions to the different cheeses. Here’s how each cheese fared on the omnivore test.
Fauxmage Herbes de Provence was the clear winner in terms of flavor.
About half of my guests absolutely loved the Provolone by Follow Your Heart, but the other half weren’t crazy about it.
People liked the flavor of the Chao Tomato Cayenne, but the texture was a bit of a deterrent.
Similarly, the texture of the Daiya Jalapeno Havarti (one of my favorites) was a huge drawback.
The Daiya Cheddar “tasted like popcorn,” according to two of my friends. Others seemed to like it. (Side note: I served this side-by-side with dairy-based cheddar at a recent work event and the Daiya went faster then the dairy!!)
The Daiya Smoked Gouda seemed to be liked by many.
The Miyoko’s Double Cream Chive was another one that people kept going back to.
Whereas the Miyoko’s Sharp Farmhouse won the “tastes most like actual cheese” award, the off-caramel color was off-putting.
People barely ate the Treeline Herb & Garlic, another of my favorites.
And people surprised me with their love of the Sama Spread Jalapeno Almond Cheese spread.
So, to wrap it up, let’s get to the gritty details. Exactly how much did this event cost me?
Total cost for cheese: $126.00 before tax (note: I had a FREE coupon for one cheese)
Total cost for wine: $126.40 before tax
Misc. food items: $60.00
TOTAL COST: $430.00
Phew…well, before this post, I hadn’t totalled the cost….and I must admit, I’m a bit shocked by that sticker price, myself! I paid for it in bits and “installments,” if you will. So it soothed the sting, I suppose. And, when I think that it was essentially a $30 gift per guest, it seems much more reasonable. Truly.
Anyway, I hope I’ve provided all the appropriate resources necessary to help you plan the most succesful wine and cheese party! Please do think of me and share your stories when you plan an event! And, as always, I’d love to hear if others have tips to add!
As always, I’d love to hear from you!
Do you have information to contribute? Do you believe something in my post needs to be modified? Or do you have a reaction to the above post that you would love to share? Please feel free to comment below. I will monitor these comments to maintain a safe and comfortable environment. Also, I invite you to reach out and connect with me on Instagram at @crunchyvegangal