Frugal Foodie Mama: Holiday Cheese Platter {& How to Throw a Wine Tasting Party on a Budget}

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Holiday Cheese Platter {& How to Throw a Wine Tasting Party on a Budget}

I am partnering with ALDI today to bring you all this fun & delicious Holiday Cheese Platter and to share my tips for hosting a budget friendly wine tasting party...
How to Create a Holiday Cheese Platter + tips and ideas for hosting a budget friendly wine tasting party #ALDIPairings
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I think by now most of you all who have been following me for any number of months (or even weeks) have figured out that I have much love for the ALDI grocery store chain.  I do have to admit though that there was once a time in my life when I turned up my nose to the very thought of shopping there. (Can you all even believe that??)  That all changed when I made the decision that I wanted to stay at home with my daughter after she was born.  I was searching for ways to cut down on our budget when I decided to give ALDI another chance. And folks, I have never looked back since... ;)

You may already know that ALDI has fabulous deals for your everyday grocery shopping, and that their ALDI brand products almost always stand up to and even surpass their name brand counterparts.  But did you know that ALDI can also help you throw a swanky wine tasting party for the holidays without totally emptying your wallet?  Today I am going to show you all how.

Just about everything I used for my holiday wine tasting party that I am sharing with you all today was purchased at my local ALDI. From the wine to the cheeses to the grapes and baby carrots, even the fun slate cheese platter (around $10!) you see below was bought there.
The focal dish for my wine tasting party was this fun and simple Holiday Cheese Platter. I created mine in the shape of a Christmas tree, but you could certainly get even more creative and try a wreath or a candy cane shape...

How to Create a Holiday Cheese Platter + tips and ideas for hosting a budget friendly wine tasting party #ALDIPairings
Holiday Cheese Platter & Wine Tasting Party Shopping List

by Frugal Foodie Mama
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: None
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
    For the cheese platter
    • Traditional Baby Swiss (6 oz package)
    • Specially Selected Vermont Cheddar (7 oz package)
    • Espresso Bellavitano Cheese (5.5 oz package)
    • Specially Selected Smoked Gouda Cheese (7 oz package)
    • Specially Selected Bite Size Dry Salami (8 oz package)
    • Red seedless grapes
    • Crofton Cheese Board Serving Set
    For the wine tasting party
    • William Wright Chardonnay 2013 (750 mL)
    • Christkindl Apple Punch (1.0 liter)
    • Burlwood Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (750 mL)
    • San Zenone Bianco Delle Venezie 2013 (750 mL)
    • Specially Selected Pitted Olive Jubilee (11 oz tub)
    • Little Salad Bar Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (10 oz tub)
    • Specially Selected Original Artisan Crackers (5.3 oz package)
    • Clancy's Sea Salt Pita Chips (9 oz bag)
    • Cafe Bistro Dark Chocolate Covered Gingerbread Hearts (10.58 oz package)
    • Cafe Bistro Butter Spekulatius (7.05 oz package)
    • Specially Selected Dark Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Caramels (10 oz package)
    Instructions
    For the Holiday Cheese Platter
    Cut your cheeses into 1/2 inch or so squares. For this platter, I only ended up using half of each package of cheese to make the tree shape.

    Near the top of your serving platter, arrange the first set of cheese in a small triangle shape. Then follow with 2 rows of seedless red grapes that gradually get wider (like the shape of a Christmas tree). Repeat with two rows of a different cheese, and then add a stacked row of the bite size dry salami. Repeat with the next cheese and then two more rows of grapes. Create a trunk shape with your fourth and last cheese. Top the tree with a piece of the salami. Label each cheese as you go using chalk. The Crofton Cheese Board Serving Set comes with it's own chalk.

    Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Be careful when moving the platter! Those grapes love to roll.
    Serve alongside crackers like the Specially Selected Original Artisan Crackers.
    Enjoy!

    **Note- you can use any cheeses for this platter that you would like. The ones listed above are just my personal recommendations from ALDI's collection of specialty cheeses. You could also use green grapes or substitute pepperoni slices for the salami.
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    How to throw a wine tasting party on a budget #ALDIPairings

    I kept the set-up for my holiday wine tasting party very simple and casual. I set up a serving tray with wine glasses, wine markers (very cool for allowing party guests to write their names on their own wine glasses), wine keys, and pretty paper plates and napkins.
    How to Create a Holiday Cheese Platter + tips and ideas for hosting a budget friendly wine tasting party #ALDIPairings

    I included an array of delicious treats that would pair perfectly with the wines I would be serving, but that fabulous Holiday Cheese Platter was definitely the star of the buffet table. ;)
    How to throw a wine tasting party on a budget #ALDIPairings

    The 2013 Burlwood Cabernet Sauvignon ended up being one of the guest favorites of the evening.  It was dry and full bodied with bold flavors of cherry and blackberry and just a hint of toasted oak. It paired perfectly with the Dark Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Caramels and the Dark Chocolate Covered Gingerbread Hearts I picked up at ALDI.
    How to throw a wine tasting party on a budget #ALDIPairings

    I loved the ease of serving the Little Salad Bar Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. I just popped off the lid and served it alongside a bowl of Clancy's Sea Salt Pita Chips. Easy, peasy for this holiday party hostess. ;)
    How to throw a wine tasting party on a budget #ALDIPairings

    No wine tasting party is complete without tasty (and budget friendly!) sweets to pair with a good red wine or a sweet riesling.  ALDI offers a wide variety of specially selected and seasonal packaged sweets that are perfect for a wine tasting party.
    How to throw a wine tasting party on a budget #ALDIPairings

    These were the two favorite wines of the night- the San Zenone Bianco Delle Venezie and the Burlwood Cabernet Sauvignon (that I already raved and swooned over above).  The Bianco is a medium bodied, semi-dry white with crisp flavors of pear, citrus, and melon. It paired perfectly with most of the cheeses that I served.
    How to throw a holiday wine tasting party on a budget #ALDIPairings
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    For a warm and cozy treat, I also served ALDI's Christkindl Apple Punch. I heated it on low for about an hour before the party in my slow cooker, and then switched it down to warm for the duration of the party. I set out a ladle and allowed guests to serve themselves. It was the perfect way to end the evening- a warm apple wine flavored with cinnamon and warm spices. :)

    So the grand total for this swanky holiday wine tasting party for about 6 or so guests? Around $80, folks! That includes it all- the wines, cheeses, sweet treats, cheese board, everything.  

    Have you shopped at ALDI before? Did you know that they sell all of these amazing wines and cheeses? 
    Be sure to check out the full ALDI's Wine & Beer selection online!