We get Letters v. 15 – Wine and Cheese on the Cheap

This comes from kindred spirit Andrea.

(intro paragraph snipped, for sake of length)

Basically, here is my deal: I just graduated from law school (I went to Pitt) and I am as poor as a church mouse, as I have yet to find a “real” job, and I am trying to pay some horrid student loans. I live here in Pittsburgh, and so I feel that we might just be kindred in a way, but maybe not.

In any case, here is my request to you: would you give me some wonderful and inexpensive suggestions so as I may throw a wine and cheese soiree for a bunch of friends? I am in a wedding, and I would like to throw this party for the bride and my fellow bridesmaids, since they have expressed their desire to have me do so. Now, I know just what I would do for this party if I were in possession of unlimited (or even substantial) resources, but this
is not the case. And while I could research and find some handy tips, I don’t think they’d be half as interesting as what I imagine you might propose. (And I promise that I will research in any case, because I wouldn’t want you to do all the work for me…but your advice will reign supreme. Please?)

Thanks so much, Kate. I just adore you. And my boyfriend is getting so sick of me talking about you, but since I just found out about you and have been reading so much in the last couple of nights, I just can’t help it. You’re fantastic. Enough sucking up. I am finished.

In closing, let’s go Steelers! Even though Tommy Maddox is starting for us
this week, and that might be the absolute worst news I have had all week. But we’ll still be okay.


Andrea, one of the things I am finding out about the “We Get Letters” section, is how unabashedly unrepentant I am in publishing other people’s kind words about myself. Thanks for helping me keep that streak alive.

To the rest of you, Andrea and I exchanged further e-mails to determine how much she has to spend. The final total? $120 for 10 people. This is a good number, because this will allow her to serve something better than Mad Dog and Velveeta. Not that there’s anything wrong with Mad Dog and Velvee…

…well, actually there is.

Now, if we were to follow the rules of thumb, a serving of wine fills only 1/3rd of a wine glass. This will give us roughly 5 glasses of wine per bottle, give or take. This also means that 4-5 bottles of wine should easily cover your guests. I’d stick to four, but it is a celebration, so bump it up one to be safe.

Now there would be some who may dispute this, but you can get good to very good wine between 10-15 bucks. But what to buy?

Well, it depends on the cheese. Here are some pairings to get you one your way. Note that these aren’t hard and fast rules, but more of a starting point. The more you get into cheese and/or wine, the more chances and choices you will make.

Brie – Riesling
Camembert – Chardonnay
Cheddar – Pinot Noir
Danish Blue – Cabernet Sauvignon
Gorgonzola – Zinfandel (Red)
Muenster – Pinot Gris
Neufchatel – Beaujolais
Roquefort – Port

So, knowing all of the above, here’s what I’d do with $120 for 10 people. I’d buy three boxes of crackers. They don’t have to be gourmet crackers, but you should probably splurge a bit above the Saltines/Ritz line. If you’re spending more than 15 dollars on crackers, you should re-examine your shopping cart.

Now, onto cheeses: spend between 30-40 bucks on cheese, choosing between 4-6 different varieties. Again, you don’t need to choose the best cheese, but you can get good cheese for that price.

Then, buy your wines. If you have any money left over, get your fruits, some apples, dates or pears would go well. Nuts are also a good pick. If you run out of money before you get your fruits, ask a friend or two who will be at the party to pick up some. After all, they could stand to help out a bit.

This should be a good start. I hope this helps out. I would really love to hear how this worked out. I also would love for our regular readers to add their opinions, as many of them have far more experience in this than I do.

Oh, and as far as Tommy Maddox goes, let’s just say that I wish him well in his new environment next year, as he won’t be in Pittsburgh.

Thank goodness!

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