“This post has been sponsored by Layer Cake Wines. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”
While summer is all about casual and carefree entertaining,
fall entertaining, to me, is all about keeping it cozy and relaxed. We’re not quite as carefree as our summer days, but we’re not ready to be all prim and proper as we would be for holiday gatherings. Instead, we’re somewhere in the sweet spot that is found in the midst of cozy sweaters, soft throws, a chill playlist, earthy scents, simple but rich and flavorful foods, and last but certainly not least, a good bottle of wine.
My go-to move for fall entertaining is a harvest-themed wine and cheese celebration. Growing up in the Midwest, I know gatherings are truly, at the core, about bringing friends and family together in a casual celebration. Nothing is too stuffy, nothing is too serious. Food and drinks are plenty and are meant to be shared. Now, I can’t say I’m harvesting much at my home in LA (unless harvesting wine and cheese from the shelves of the grocery store counts?!), but it’s still such an easy-going, comforting and friendly theme for a fall get-together. Plus, I mean, wine and cheese? Who doesn’t like gathering over those things? It’s a simple, yet, classic entertaining move for good reason, and one that your friends and family alike will love.
To set your fall wine and cheese celebration up for success, there are a few things you’ll want to do, like, ya know, get yourself a few good bottles of wine (Looking at you, Layer Cake!). Keep on reading for all my tips to easily throw together your own harvest-themed wine and cheese celebration this fall.
Malbec // Sharp Orange Cheddar
This Malbec will hit your tongue with a rich and complex layer of flavors so when it comes to cheese pairings you’ll want something in sharp contrast (aka a sharp cheese) that is a little fruity, nutty and earthy. Cheddars (both aged and orange) work well with the notes of blackberry and bacon, but manchego is another great option.
Pinot Noir // Manchego
The Pinot Noir has soft and smooth, yet earthy tones, so you want to pair it with a cheese that is a little sweet and a little nutty, like a sheep’s milk based cheese.
Bourbon Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon // Smoked Cheddar
This delicious wine will envelop your taste buds in intensely rich and delicious flavors with hints of bourbon (thanks to being aged in bourbon barrels for 3 months) and the sweet notes of vanilla and blackberry. Similarly to the regular Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll want to pair this wine with something nutty or smoked, such as a cheddar or gouda, both of which will work especially well with the bourbon notes of the wine.
The Setting //
When you’re putting your table and setting together think unfussy, relaxed, cozy and inviting. In other words, keep your china place settings in the cabinet. Instead, create a spread in an area that can easily be accessed by all guests while also allowing for an open flow of dialogue and camaraderie. Use earthy tones and rustic textures, things like pottery, linen, wheat, wood, twine, sprigs of fresh herbs (but choose ones with woody stems, such as rosemary), unfussy floral arrangements, etc. to decorate. But keep in mind, the food and wine are the centerpiece, so you merely want to accessorize and highlight those with whatever you choose to decorate with.
The Wine //
The wine is really the cornerstone of this celebration. It sets the tone of the gathering, it’s the basis for the food you choose to serve and it makes or breaks whether your friends/family have a good time. In other words, choose wisely. For this particular gathering, I selected a handful of Layer Cake wines. With a wine team who travels the world and carries out harvest on 4 continents, Layer Cake is able to create wines inspired by the culture and people of some of the world’s most iconic wine regions. The results are a range of richly layered, full bodied, complex wines that make the classic varietals of the world’s most iconic regions accessible all while being expertly produced. Hence, they’re perfect for a classic and sophisticated, yet down-to-earth and casual fall gathering.
Specifically, I chose the Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Bourbon Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon, each for their own unique reasons.
The Food //
You want the food to be simple, but, because it’s fall, you also want things that are bold and full of flavor and spice, especially to keep up with the richly layered, full-bodied Layer Cake wines. Here’s what I chose to pair with each wine selection:
Cabernet Sauvignon // Dubliner
When you think of this wine, think bold, complex flavors, therefore, you’ll want a cheese that can keep up. A nutty cheddar or smoked gouda are a perfect match for the fruit notes found in the Cabernet Sauvignon, but my absolute favorite choice is a cheddar that goes by the name “Dubliner”. It’s one of the sharpest cheddars, full of bold toasted nutty flavors, yet it still hits your tongue with smooth, sweet notes, all perfect pairings for this wine.
Shiraz // Smoked Gouda
This is a wine that embodies all the scents and flavors of fall perfectly. Think dark, spiced, cocoa aromas. So when it comes to cheese, you’ll want something that packs a strong flavor punch. Goudas work well, dry and crumbly aged jacks work as well, but my favorite is smoked gouda. The combo is just so smooth you’ll know without a doubt that it’s a match made in heaven.
To round out your wine + cheese pairing,
add in a meat (a dry sausage is a perfect choice for fall), nuts (I like to do either walnuts, almonds or marcona almonds, either truffled or regular, for autumn), things like olives, cornichon pickles or chutneys for accompaniments, and last, but not least, a variety of crackers (I like to have at least 2-3 so there’s something that works well with every wine and cheese pairing. For fall, think of crackers that are a little heartier, things with grains and a toasted nutty flavor, or even ones with pieces of dried fruit and nuts in them).