A few well-chosen offerings keep these party trays simple—an elegant presentation makes them special.
The Perfect Party Tray Cheese: Thomasville Tomme Cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy (sweetgrassdairy.com) in Georgia. Guests will find it mellow, buttery, and easy to love. (You may substitute Manchego.) Buy 2 to 3 oz. per person.
Homemade Bites: Brined Pecans, Toast Points
Grocery Pickups: Country ham and peach preserves
Wine Pairing: Beachaven Brut, Tennessee (beachavenwinery.com) or Domaine Chandon Brut Classic, California
Add flair to pecan halves with this fragrant sugary, salty coating.
In 15 minutes, you can turn basic white bread into crisp, flavorful triangles. They pair perfectly with cheese, ham, and fruit
The Perfect Cheese: Louisiana’s Bittersweet Plantation Dairy Kashkaval Bulgarian-style Yellow Cheese (jfolse.com/bittersweet_dairy/). (You may substitute Gouda.)
Homemade Bites: Smoked Paprika-Glazed Andouille, Frenchie Flats
Grocery Pickups: Sweet Cajun trail mix and pickled okra. (We tested with Archer Farms trail mix from Target.)
Wine Pairing: Pontchartrain Vineyards Louis D’Or, Louisiana (pontchartrainvineyards.com) or Foxglove Zinfandel, California
Garlic, paprika, and thyme add a zesty coating to this flavroful sausage. Serve with toothpicks.
Sprinkled with Creole seasoning, these crispy bread strips taste great with cheese, with wine, or by themselves.
The Perfect Cheese: Barren Co. Bleu Cheese (kennysfarmhousecheese.com) from Kentucky. It’s a tart yet subtle blue cheese that’s delicious with fruit and nuts. (You may substitute Stilton or Gorgonzola.)
Homemade Bites: Sweet Potato Chips, a nod to North Carolina’s cash crop
Grocery Pickups: Golden Delicious apples (the state fruit of West Virginia) and glazed walnuts. (We tested with Emerald Original Glazed Walnuts.)
Wine Pairing: RayLen Vineyards Cabernet Franc, North Carolina (raylenvineyards.com) or Eberle Estate Muscat Canelli, California
The secret to crisp sweet potato chips is to fry them in small batches, in peanut oil, at a low temperature. This makes 6
servings when served as a side but will be plenty for 10 with the other foods on the tray.