Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party

For me, summer is at it’s best when I’m outside in our backyard surrounded by friends and family, feasting on a simple, yet incredible meal. The wine is refreshing and flowing, the music is setting the perfect mood, a bonfire is crackling in the distance for late night smores, and the sun slowly melting away as we laugh into the night. It’s magical! 

The beauty about Al Fresco dining is that it’s simple and uncomplicated. The goal is to actually enjoy the time with your guests, feel relaxed and stress-free without spending hours in the kitchen while your guests are outside. We want you to love the whole entertaining experience, not fear it! Trust me, I have some stories I could tell you…

 

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

Thanks to my restaurant and catering years, I had the opportunity to cook some very complicated, stress-filled dinners. However, my love of torturing myself had me attempting those similar dinners at home for my own guests, which had me frantically cooking, piling up a mountain of dishes and swearing off cooking altogether! Wow, not only was I torturing myself but my guests as well! No one wants to see a stressed out host/hostess running themselves into the ground before the meal has even begun, am I right?

I’ve learned so much from those crazy years, but most importantly the value of enjoying the experience and keeping it simple. Which is why we’ve put together a very easy, yet absolutely delicious menu that helps you accomplish just that.

Read on to see all of the chic dinner details, plus our full menu with recipes.

 

Set the table & pour the wine, it’s party time!

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

A large assortment of charcuterie, cheeses, and delicious accompaniments is an essential part of an incredible Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. This DIY cheese board was made from a salvaged piece of live edge wood we scored at a local Minneapolis tree salvaging company called Wood from the Hood. It was the perfect centerpiece to our farmhouse table that allowed for easy grazing as we sipped our wine throughout the night.

How to DIY this awesome cheese board, coming next week!

 

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

Don’t keep a lot of clutter on the table, especially if you have an incredible view. A simple vase or two of freshly cut garden flowers and greenery will help brighten up the space while allowing room for your serving dishes. Use a simple leaf, fern frond or herb stem to grace each table setting. Simplicity is key to everything when it comes to your Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party tablescape. Which also helps when throwing other beautiful impromptu dinner parties. If you don’t have access to any garden flowers or greenery, Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to get inexpensive, beautiful flowers, just an FYI…

 

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

Have plenty of chilled wine, beer and beverages on hand to keep your guests cool. Make sure to provide your guests with beverages as soon as they arrive. If you have a few wine friends in your life, don’t hesitate to ask them to bring a few of their favorites as well. There’s nothing better than trying new wine! We’ve been loving this ultra-refreshing rosé and sauvignon blanc from Meadowcroft Wines that paired perfectly with our al fresco wine and cheese dinner menu! 

Calculate how much wine you will need

 

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

Always accept a helping hand. It can be one of the hardest things to do. Especially for us perfectionist, must-do-it-all individuals. However, allowing guests to jump in, even with the simplest of tasks, can relieve some of the stress off your shoulders and help them feel involved in the night. Standing around with nothing to do, especially for a guest who may not be the most social or know the rest of your guests, can feel awkward. 

 

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

Don’t fear mixing styles, thrifting for tableware, wash clothes as napkins, and unmatched silverware. That’s the beauty of Al Fresco dining. It doesn’t have to be perfect and matching!

I found both my cut-crystal wine glasses and water glasses at Goodwill for nothing. Since I didn’t have enough of my modern-style silverware, I ended up mixing in some antique silverware I’ve picked up for various photo shoots. I really love the eclectic feel it brings to the table.

As I was shopping around for cloth napkins I found they were way too expensive. I was able to find a pack of 12 washcloths for $4.99 at Homegoods. They were perfectly neutral and looked great with my farmhouse table. Oh, and my farmhouse table cost $110 on craigslist, WHAT!!! It was a beautiful dark brown when I purchased it but had some scratches on the top. After stripping the stain and coating it in a Butcher Block Oil it transformed into a light, modern table that’s ready for any summer soiree. I’m so, so in love with it, I can hardly stand it!

 

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

Have plenty of candlelit for when the sun sets and the party goes into the evening. Along with some good tunes that won’t disturb the neighbors.

 

 

Food! Food! Food!

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

 

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party

{the menu}

The Ultimate Cheese & Charcuterie Board

Freshly baked baguette

Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta and Cucumbers

Grilled Baby Broccolini with Lemon Vinaigrette

Herbs de Provence Grilled Chicken

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Sliced Strawberries with a Balsamic Reduction

 

 Get the full menu shopping list

 

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

I love a good cheese and charcuterie board! The essential to an Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. It helps fill up your guests before the meal, which on the flipside allows you to keep the rest of the meal simple.

A good cheese board has at least 3 different cheeses, varying in texture from soft to hard. A variety of charcuteries, some fresh or dried fruit, olives and a few condiments. Because we were drinking a crisp sauvignon blanc and a dry rosé wine we served a herb crusted Chèvre, Brie, a mild blue cheese, and Gruyère. 

Make sure to get a quality, crusty French baguette that was preferably baked fresh that day. Avoid those huge, soft french loaf types. They are not a baguette!

For both cheeses and charcuteries, it’s best to figure about 3-5 oz per person. Closer to 5oz if it’s the main part of the meal.

Serious Eat’s wine and cheese pairing cheat sheet

 

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

This Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta and Cucumbers Salad has been on repeat at our house lately. It’s easy to make and so incredibly delicious! The best part about this salad is that it can be made in advance, which allows you to enjoy your party and focus on your guests and the final touches to the dinner.

Get the recipe

 

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

For white and rosé wine, along with serving a variety of guests’ tastes, I find grilled chicken is the ideal option. We marinated this Herbs de Provence Grilled Chicken the day before and grilled it spatchcock style. It was juicy and full of flavor. We served this chicken with grilled baby broccolini and our favorite lemon vinaigrette.

Get the recipes

 

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Sliced Strawberries with a Balsamic Reduction

In a small saucepan add 1 cup balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp honey. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until balsamic vinegar has reduced by 1/2 and is a thick syrup. Can be thinned out with some balsamic vinegar if too thick. Set aside until ready to use. Wash, trim off green tops and slice strawberries (about 2-3 strawberries per person). Scope vanilla bean ice cream into bowls. Top with strawberries and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Serve immediately.

 

Sit back, laugh for hours and enjoy the evening!

Al Fresco Wine and Cheese Dinner Party. Celebrate summertime with this elegant al fresco wine and cheese dinner party starring Meadowcroft Wines. Find more at www.designsofanykind.com

 

 

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