By Paullette Gaudet
Blind-WineDinner-and-a-movie, lime-juice-and-tequila, tube-socks-and-Tevas:
Yes, iconic pairings are classics for a reason, but do you ever wonder if there’s any way to put a whole new spin on a solid partnership like the wine-and-cheese gathering—well, other than calling it cheese-and-wine?

Keep all the classic components of a wine-and-cheese party (that’d be wine and cheese), while simply adding the (free!) elements of Surprise and Competition in the form of a Blind Taste Contest—et voilá! Le “spin” accompli!

The Basics:

  • Wine, people, cheese
  • Your fabulous flat
  • Sturdy furniture and soft music

The Set-Up:

  • Use brown paper lunch bags to hide wine labels and add a trangressive feel
  • Secure bags around bottle necks with rubber bands/duct tape/butcher string
  • Place numbered notecards in front of each plain-bagged bottle (best to keep just three in play)
  • Provide guests with printed copies of taste questions so they can keep score

The Rules:

  • No Peeking!

The Categories:

Geography: Where is each wine from? But play nice: You must provide a selection of correct locales, plus one Wild Card. For example: Which of these reds are from Chile, Australia, Northern California, or France? The guest who correctly identifies the most wines, wins!

Name That Blend! Great fun for everyone—and also a bloodless smackdown for insufferable oenophiles—contestants must name both the correct varietals and closest percentages in each blend. The guest who gets closest wins!

Name That Vineyard: This one will come in handy when you realize that every guest has brought some version of a Northern California Cabernet Sauvignon. See if your friends really know their Cabs, and ask them for the zipcode (okay, the vineyard) for each bottle.