How to Host a Summer Wine & Cheese Party

Looking for an easy but elegant way to entertain? A summer wine and cheese party is the perfect way to host friends or family, and it’s casual chic vibe is the essence of the season!

summer wine and cheese party with Chalk Hill wines

As my husband will tell you, a charcuterie plate is my favorite dinner on the planet! Not only is it one of my favorite meals, but it’s also one of my favorite ways to entertain.

Is there anything more perfect than a wine and cheese party on the patio on a warm summer night?! No cooking, delectable nibbles, and some delicious wine makes for an easy but elegant evening. 

In today’s post I’m sharing lots of tips for to help you throw your own summer wine and cheese party!



charcuterie platter with meats and cheeses outdoor dining

For this setup I used a drop cloth as a tablecloth. This is one of my favorite tips for a casual chic look! I love that the tablecloth makes it feel more special than the average BBQ, but because the fabric is so casual, it keeps it from feeling too formal. And it gives a similar lived-in look to linen for much less.


hosting a summer wine and cheese party easy elegance


A few tips for arranging the perfect cheese plate:

  • Allow about 1-2 ounces of each cheese per person, with at least 5 total. 
  • Let the cheese sit at room temp for at least a half hour before serving. Cheese is at its full flavor at room temperature. 
  • Include a mix of both soft and hard cheeses, as well as different types such as goat, cow’s milk, and sheep’s milk.
  • Add a selection of meats such as prosciutto or salami, as well as nuts and olives for a variety of flavors.
  • Fresh and dried fruit such as grapes, figs, dried apricots or dates add sweetness and they’re so yummy with wine!
  • Toppings like honey or jam are wonderful with softer cheeses.
  • Offer a variety of breads and crackers. Personally, I don’t think anything beats a fresh baguette but I like to offer a selection of crackers, too. 
  • Chill the wines for at least a couple of hours but remember to take them out of the refrigerator 15-20 minutes before guests arrive.


charcuterie platter with gourmet cheeses meats breads nuts

When it comes to place settings, I think the simpler the better, especially during the dog days of summer.

I like to use salad sized plates for a wine and cheese party. Dinner plates are too large, while appetizer plates can feel too small when you’re having this as a meal. The salad/dessert plate is the perfect size for an event like this.

And I love to use natural linen napkins. Again, they give a perfect casual chic vibe and always feel perfect for summer. Here I used a pretty plum color to go with the flowers, but a classic flax color is lovely and versatile, too.


place setting with patterned plate and plum linen napkin


Chalk Hill chardonnay delicious wine summer entertaining idea

We used our wine barrel as an extra table on the side. It was perfect for stashing extra wine, corkscrews, and dish cloths, but any portable table will work. I also usually have some extra bottles of water there as well for refilling glasses. It’s especially important when drinking to be hydrating, and also for refreshing your palette between wines.



white wine glasses gorgeous flowers summer alfresco dining patio

I wanted the flowers to be simple yet elegant, with a California vibe. But also easy! Believe it or not these were all grocery store flowers. I purchased a mixed bunch with some lavender and purple florals along with one bunch of white hydrangeas.

After removing a few bits from the mixed bunch that I didn’t like, I simply mixed the rest with the hydrangeas in my favorite French mason jar. They’re pretty and add interest to the table, without competing with the food.

Another tip? Skip the roses or any flower that might overpower sniffing and sipping the wine. šŸ˜‰


red and white wine summer backyard entertaining party idea

I love to use vintage bread boards – they have such a great patina. Also, I scatter a few different, smaller charcuterie platters scattered around the table. This way each guest can easily get to a cheese board without the need to constantly pass the cheese back and forth.

It’s fun to try different flavors – salty prosciutto or sweet honey on some blue cheese – and see how they taste with the wine. This exploration is what makes this such a fun event!


pouring wine for summer wine and cheese party in pretty French country patio setting

For this party I wanted to serve lighter wines that are perfect for summer. Chalk Hill is one of our favorite wineries so I decided on a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir from them.

For the white, I chose their Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. We love that it’s a perfect balance of acidity and minerality and that it’s consistently high-rated but also very affordable. And it’s delicious with cheese!

We also offered their Chalk Hill Pinot Noir as an option for those who wanted a bit of red. It’s fruit forward and approachable, and another delicious option. Both of these can usually be found in supermarkets and they have a very reasonable price point.

But really, any wine that you love can work! Just make sure that you offer both a red and a white, and that the red isn’t so heavy that it overpowers the cheeses you’re serving.


white wine on table with charcuterie lovely summer evening

Though I do have acrylic wine glasses, for this I wanted it to feel special and a little elevated so I used our favorite glass options. And no, you don’t need a million different glasses for all different wines! Sometimes we will use two different ones for red and white, but here I decided not to. Our favorite wine glasses are these, but I’m sharing several great options below.


toasting with chardonnay in glasses at summer wine and cheese party

You can easily get away with one nice glass for everything (we use this one). Or if you want to be a little more precise (or fancy!), you can invest in both a Bordeaux and a Burgundy glass which is all you’d ever need.


toasting with white wine in backyard summer entertaining

Easy, simple and low-key, a summer wine and cheese party is one of the best parts of summer!


gorgeous summer evening party on the patio white string lights wine and cheese party

Here’s to a gathering that is the very essence of the season. This summer wine and cheese party is all about great wine, delicious food and making memories with friends and family!

I hope this inspires you to host one of your own. šŸ™‚


Shop Summer Wine & Cheese Essentials 





How to Host a Summer Wine & Cheese Party graphic on Maison de Cinq


If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out some of my other summer entertaining ideas below:

Romantic Summer Table Setting with Peonies & Roses

Six Ideas for Casual and Chic Summer Entertaining

How to Host an Easy and Delicious Summer Grilling Night


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  1. Shelly Spencer says:

    Thanks for such a thorough post, I especially appreciate your advice/info about cheeses, when to serve, etc. Can’t wait to try this next summer!

    1. I’m so glad you found it helpful Shelly – and I hope you try it!

  2. A wine and cheese party are one of my favorite things! They’re especially good for when the girls get together and we love doing them in the summer. Thanks for the great ideas!

  3. Hi Sheila! This looks like a magical evening that I would love to duplicate. Iā€™m wondering if you served a dessert later or could you recommend a suitable dessert for a wine and cheese party? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Tricia!

      I’m so glad you loved the post! I do always serve dessert! Usually we grill fruit which caramalizes it and sweetens it a bit (you can drizzle melted chocolate sauce and nuts, or serve as-is) or we’ll do a chocolate fondue with fruit and brioche for dipping. There’s also a great dessert that’s wine related – Strawberries with Red Wine Sauce. The recipe is here if you want to try it – it’s delicious!

      Hope that helps!


  4. I love this ideal will b doing this soon
    Thanks soooo much

    1. Yay! Love hearing that Debbie! And thank you!


  5. Bernadette Rogers says:

    Your summer wine tasting party is so perfect! Thanks for such beautiful ideas!!

  6. Arleen Rice says:

    Having been a teacher in Bennett Valley for 14 years and enjoying life among the wonderful wineries around Santa Rosa, we now reside in Walla Walla, WA and dearly enjoy the ambiance of the nearly 120+ wineries here in the valley.
    Lovely ideas for a wine and cheese party. . .thank you for sharing.

    1. Oh how lovely! We’ve been to Napa and Sonoma several times but never Walla Walla – I’d love to get there one day!

      Thanks so much for your compliment and for stopping by!


  7. Cecilia from Georgia says:

    Everything is so perfect! The string lights add a soft glow that gives the atmosphere a wonderful feeling while enjoying good wine, good food, and great friends. You have given me the itch to have a get-together!

    1. Aww thank you Cecilia – I so appreciate that! And I love that it’s inspired you šŸ™‚


  8. This was a lovely post! I loooove wine and cheese gatherings and this post is making me really want to do one – it’s full of beauty, smart advice and so much inspiration.

    Your pictures are gorgeous. Is that you in the pics in that pretty linen party dress? Gorgeous.

    Thank you for this. I feel as though I was there and could taste every bit of yummy in your pics. Wow.

    1. Aww thank you Michele – that’s so kind! Yes, it’s me in the photos! šŸ˜‰

      I’m so glad you found it inspiring and I hope you get to do one this summer! And don’t forget to pin or save for later when you want to host!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!


  9. Sheila,
    Thank you so much for your informative post! Your ideas are wonderful. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and your photos are absolutely beautiful!!

    1. What a lovely comment Jeanne – thank you so much!!


  10. Rosalind Murray says:

    Hi Shelia,
    Thank-you for another article with great suggestions! I am curious…how big is your table and what size drop cloth do you use?

    1. Thanks so much Rosalind!

      My table is 8′ feet long. The drop cloths won’t be a precise fit, but to be honest, many tablecloths are longer on one side than another as well so to me it’s not a big deal. My drop cloth is about as close as I could get – it is 11′ long and about 7′ wide. The length is perfect but it’s a little too long for the sides. I usually tuck it under but I may take it to my dry cleaners and have them hem it. Either way, it’s a great casual look and waaay cheaper than a tablecloth. Plus, they wash and wear like a dream!

      Hope that helps Rosalind, and thanks for stopping by!