Growing up with several food allergies has made me hyper-aware of the various foods around me, from parties to potlucks and beyond. I’m always trying to stress the importance of knowing every single
ingredient right down to the oils used in a dish I might eat, as well as the contents of their kitchen to avoid cross-contamination. This vigilance and awareness of my surroundings has helped me flourish as a host; I love setting up/creating/planning events, but it is always a way for me to be in control of an event where food is present.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been theming my parties and everything surrounding them: from food, to decorations, and even what my guests wear. It can be a real pain for some people who don’t exactly want to participate, but for those who are into the idea of themes it can be really fun. One of the best idea’s or themes that my group of friends constantly returns to is a “wine and cheese” party. The following is quick and easy three-step guide with some tips to planning the perfect wine and cheese party that is safe for food allergies and intolerances alike.
Step One: Picking the Wine
Finding the right wine can be tricky. Your best bet is to grab a couple of bottles with different taste pallets and flavours so you have multiple options sure to please anyone. Try finding a few reds ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noirs, and Shiraz; all ranging from dry to sweet. As well, try finding a few different Whites, like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and a Pinot Grigio for a full rounded taste option. And, if you’re feeling like a mix, try finding different blends of types, or a blush for those who aren’t sure what they like. Now, many wines have multiple ingredients that may not always be listed on the bottle, and tasting notes may differ from actual ingredients. When I am unsure of ingredients, my first call to action is to check the website for information, and if that fails, calling the company is always a sure way to find out all the allergen information you need. You might be surprised to know that some wines use priority allergens such as eggs or fish as fining agents.
Step Two: Cheese Please!
I always pick my wines before I get my cheeses for these types of pairing events.
As with any food, read your ingredients, find out where it was manufactured and if there is a chance of cross-contamination. A few things to remember: try to avoid blue cheese or aged cheeses if you or anyone in your party has a mould allergy given that it can cause a reaction. If you’re looking for lactose-free cheese, check out this link to a Hard Cheese list given that hard cheeses are naturally lactose-free (Lactose Free Cheese). If you’re looking for completely dairy-free cheese, a personal favourite of mine is “Chao Cheese” which comes in many forms and flavours sure to satisfy. Check out their selection with this link: Chao Cheese.
Step Three: Label Everything!
First off, as with any potluck or party, make sure you label everything! Ensure your guests know which cheeses are which, and if they have multiple ingredients, make a little card by the food or wine with the ingredients written down. Secondly, make sure you have separate serving tools for everything and encourage people to use them properly so your food doesn’t come into contact with each other. Lastly, if your guests are bringing other foods, such as fruits and crackers, make sure they follow the same guidelines or bring the boxes for ingredient references to ensure everyone feels comfortable.
Planning a party should be fun and exciting! Just because you have a food allergy or intolerance doesn’t ever mean you should be denied experiences or places. As long as the proper precautions are taken and you ensure your guests feel comfortable with the food options available, you’re sure to have an excellent time.
If you’re looking for more theme ideas, food options, etc. check out Pinterest. It is an excellent resource for absolutely everything!