Entertaining : Wine & Cheese Bar

wine & cheese set up

I hope you’re ready for a marathon post today…{week really}, as I share my ideas for making Thanksgiving special and stylish! All week I’ll be sharing styled tables, DIY projects, and EASY recipes for hosting the holiday at your home.  I’m calling it my Autumn Entertaining Series and it all starts today with a Wine & Cheese bar that provides light bites to tie you over until the big meal.

For those who don’t know, my husband works an erratic schedule {and has for years} in the computer memory industry {?blah, blah} so we have never been able to travel much for Thanksgiving to be with family. So, many years ago we decided to get together with our other misfit friends {most of them in his industry too} and have a “Friendsgiving.” It was such fun and the highlight of the day ended up being the hours leading up to the big meal, which was served at dinner time. All day we would sip wine, nibble on appetizers, talk & laugh, and sometimes play a game or two. Things have changed in the last couple of years – friends have moved away, some couples have separated, and some have had family move into town, so our Friendsgiving has come to an end {sadly}. However, those years of spending the day sipping wine & noshing while waiting for the turkey to cook is what inspired my wine and appetizers bar today. I hope it inspires you for ANY wine & cheese entertaining, or other occasion.

I set up the bar in 3 different sections – one for food, one for wine, and one with cider and a “thankful tree“. Thanks to Columbia Crest, I had the perfect trio of wines to serve: Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Syrah. These wines paired very well with the selection of cheese {white cheddar & Havarti with dill} and cheesy appetizers. All of the food here is light enough and bite size so it won’t fill you up too much while you’re waiting for dinner. I’ll be sharing more specifics in a later post.

For decor I chose a very non-traditional color palette of brown and turquoise, with a touch of vintage, and old newspaper print as the recurring details. All the decorative elements are made with paper, some craft punches, and items around the house. I’ll share more about that later in the week, but I think the old newspaper print is symbolic of the different generations that come together at the holidays, and it feels a bit nostalgic. After all, the holidays are a great time to talk about the ‘good ole days.’

You know how I like to use unique pieces to display food. This time I re-purposed a small play hutch into a “food cupboard” to serve appetizers from. I painted it and lined it with paper {to keep it food safe} and I think it looks adorable. I also utilized the doors as holders for our ‘thankful tags’. The idea came about because I felt like they needed some color, so I wrapped jute twine around the little doors and tucked in the tags for people to write down things that they are thankful for. They can then hang them on our tree branch for the day.

Mini soup shots are served in shot glasses and displayed in boxes lined with more news print, and nuts find a home in small tin containers found at a home store. Finally, I have an option for those who don’t drink wine, or for the kids. I poured apple cider into two flip top bottles and serve it from a wire basket which also holds our “thankful branch’. Tag embellishments and a mini bunting dress up the display and of course the ‘thankful tags’ add a dash of color to the branch.

There you have ideas and tips for setting up a Thanksgiving wine and cheese bar. You can see my Thanksgiving tabletop here and stay tuned, there’s a LOT more to come this week!

Tips to Remember:

  • Create a unique setting using a non-traditional color scheme and fun items from around the house.
  • Wine and cheese is always a classic & satisfying appetizer option. Serve some cheesy appetizers to add extra flavor to the regular pairings.
  • Some favorite wine varieties to serve are Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Syrah. Remember temperature can make or break your wine experience. A good rule of thumb is the “20 minute rule”: take white wine OUT of the refrigerator for 20 minutes prior to drinking, and place red wine IN the refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving. {Pinot Noir also pairs perfectly with your turkey dinner, and champagne is always on point.}
  • Create your own DIY decorative elements with paper, craft punches, buttons, paper doilies, etc.
DISCLOSURE: Thanks to Columbia Crest for providing wine for our Holiday Entertaining inspiration shoot.


For more inspiration, follow me on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. Cheers!


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  1. says

    This makes me want to hop in my car and drive straight to your home! This is the kind of party I would want to go to! Beautiful job Chris, I love your flare for the artistic mixed with a warm homey feeling!

  2. says

    Love the styling again!! The hutch is my fave!
    Oh and the 20 min rule “out of fridge before eating” also applies to cheese! 😉

  3. Helene says

    Ummm…people put red wine in the fridge? I’ve always had it at room temperature (or warm, over Christmas!) Great news about the white, though – when it’s just come out of the fridge, one can’t taste ANYTHING.

    • Chris says

      Helene, contrary to popular belief, our traditional room temperature is too warm for red wine to be served. Optimal temperature for red is around 60 degrees and since most “room temperature” is closer to 70 it’s too warm. To remedy this, put red in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to lower it’s temps just enough to taste the flavor of the wine, and not the harshness of the alcohol.