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Wine + Cheese = Fabulous Holiday Parties

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Bubbly Cheddar Pesto Tomatoes
Apple, Cheese and Smoked Turkey Cups
Cheesy Dubliner Polenta
Steak Bites

(Family Features) - It's the most exciting time of the year — but also the busiest. How can you host a spectacular holiday get-together and still have time to enjoy your guests?

Keep it simple. Build your refreshments around two popular and reliable party favorites, wine and cheese.

Make up easy hors d'oeuvres and plate them with flair. Start with a no-fuss cheese tray, and build your menu around it. Imported cheeses from Ireland, widely available from the supermarket, add affordable elegance.

To accompany your menu, serve guests several different wine varietals to satisfy every taste. Look for easy-drinking wines that offer great quality and value, such as those coming from Australia.

Try These Additional Tips for Fabulous, No-Fail Holiday Gatherings

The Food

  • A cheese tray is simple to prepare and always welcome. Arrange a selection of delectable cheeses, such as Kerrygold's Dubliner, Aged Cheddar, Blarney Castle and Swiss on a large platter or wooden board. Serve with a scattering of toasted nuts, fruits and a basket of baguettes or crackers.
  • You don't have to make an extra trip to a specialty cheese store for your party fare. Imported Kerrygold cheeses and butter are available locally at many leading supermarkets. All milk used in these dairy products comes from grass-fed cows roaming freely on small family farms in Ireland; the milk is crafted into cheeses and butter using centuries-old processes.
  • To purchase cheese for a party, estimate about 4 ounces per guest. Always serve cheese at room temperature for best texture and flavor.
  • For more scrumptious holiday recipes, visit www.kerrygold.com/usa.

The Wine

  • Save time and avoid the stress of fumbling with a corkscrew by choosing wines with screw cap closures, such as Wolf Blass Yellow Label Riesling and Shiraz. In addition to their convenience, these wines are extremely food friendly and pair well with a wide range of holiday foods.
  • Screw caps offer the added benefit of capturing the wine's peak flavor without the risk of spoilage from a faulty cork. "For quality wines, the screw cap closure is the way of the future because it preserves the wine the way the winemaker intended it to taste," says Chris Hatcher, chief winemaker for Wolf Blass Wines of Australia.
  • How much wine do you need for your party? Experts at Wolf Blass estimate about five to seven glasses per bottle. If you're having a large party, set out several varietals and let guests choose. Always include bottled water and soft drinks for designated drivers.
  • For more information on Australian wines, regions and more, visit www.wolfblass.com.

Bubbly Cheddar Pesto Tomatoes

  • 40 large cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto
  • 3 ounces (1/4-inch cubes) Kerrygold Aged Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 cup crushed herb croutons
  • 1 tablespoon Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, melted

    1. Heat oven to 450°F.
    2. Cut small piece off the bottom of each tomato to sit flat on baking sheet.
    3. With sharp knife, cut top off each tomato; remove seeds with small spoon.
    4. Spoon pesto into tomatoes and top with cheese, dividing equally.
    5. Combine crumbs and butter and sprinkle over tomatoes. Bake 5 minutes or until bubbly. Serve warm.

Makes 40 appetizers

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Pair with Wolf Blass Yellow Label Riesling or Chardonnay.

Apple, Cheese and Smoked Turkey Cups

  • 1/2 cup (1/4-inch cubes) Kerrygold Blarney Castle Cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1/4-inch cubes) red apple
  • 1/2 cup (1/4-inch cubes) smoked turkey
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh fennel
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onion (green part only)
  • 2 tablespoons each lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 (2.1-ounce) boxes mini filo shells, thawed

    1. In bowl combine all ingredients except shells. Chill 1 hour or up to several hours ahead. Spoon mixture equally into shells and serve immediately.

Makes 30 appetizers

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Pair with Wolf Blass Yellow Label Riesling.

Cheesy Dubliner Polenta

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 ounces shredded Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced roasted red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
  • Pepper to taste

    1. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking dish. In medium saucepan, bring broth and butter to boil. Add polenta; cook and stir over low heat 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook 5 minutes more. Pour into baking dish and chill at least 1 hour.
    2. Cut into 2-inch squares or diamonds. Serve at room temperature or grill a minute or two on each side.

Makes 24 appetizers

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Pair with Wolf Blass Yellow Label Shiraz.

Steak Bites

  • 1/4 cup Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, divided*
  • 1 pound beef tenderloin steaks, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick
  • 3 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse ground pepper
  • 24 baguette slices

    1. Heat oven to 400°F. In ovenproof skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Sear steaks over medium-high heat about 2 minutes each side.
    2. In bowl combine remaining butter, mustard, herbs and pepper.
    3. Spread 1 tablespoon of the mixture onto the baguette slices; spread remaining on top and sides of steaks.
    4. Bake steaks 8 to 10 minutes, remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Thinly slice on diagonal and place on baguette slices, dividing equally.

Makes 8 to 10 appetizers

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
*You can substitute with Kerrygold Garlic & Herb Butter; omit fresh herb. Pair with Wolf Blass Yellow Label Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon.

SOURCE: Wolf Blass Wines of Australia
Irish Dairy Board

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