DIVAS ON A DIME: Eat, drink and be cheesy for New Year’s Eve

By Patti Diamond

Cheese fondue is a versatile party recipe. (www.JasonCoblentz.com)

Are you looking for a fabulous recipe for your New Year’s Eve celebration? How about scrumptious party fare that’s festive enough for any special occasion. It’s easy, inexpensive, scalable and adaptable to suit any party plan. And it’s communal, so guests will mingle. Let’s make cheese fondue!

This all-purpose fondue recipe is versatile. You can use wine, beer or apple cider as your liquid base. Add your cheese of choice, a little corn starch to ensure your fondue won’t separate, and you’ve got a luscious fondue.

When you think of traditional cheese fondue, you may think of Swiss cheese as the principal ingredient. In my quest to keep things frugal as well as fabulous, I’ve learned that inexpensive Swiss cheese from the deli doesn’t melt properly into the wine, but stays stringy and clumpy. I tried several varieties and ended with clumps of gooey cheese bathing in milky wine. Not very Diva. So rather than breaking the bank on good (read: expensive!) gruyere or Emmental cheese, we’re using other, more affordable cheeses.

The cheeses I find that work best are any variety of cheddar (yellow or white, mild, medium or sharp), muenster, Monterey jack, pepper jack, Colby or a mix of those varieties.

Be sure to use a dry white wine or beer that you’d enjoy drinking. My taste-testers liked the aromatic “boozy” essence brought by the alcohol.

Apple cider was delicious with all the combinations I tried. It added a lovely fruity note but was less complex in flavor. Bear in mind, nearly all the alcohol will evaporate as the fondue cooks. So, no worries about the kiddies getting blotto before bedtime.

For a white cheese fondue (pictured) use 3 cups white cheddar mixed with 2 cups muenster. It’s mild-flavored enough to let the essence of the wine shine. The wines I suggest include dry Riesling (taste-test winner) or chenin blanc.

If you choose beer as your liquid, use medium or sharp cheddar and add a little dry ground mustard for some zing. To spice things up, try an IPA beer with pepper jack cheese.



Yield: 6 cups  Time: 20 minutes

1 1/2 cups dry white wine, beer or apple cider

5 cups shredded cheese

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Optional ingredients: 1 clove garlic, minced; 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg; 1/4 teaspoon pepper; 1 tablespoon brandy or kirsch.


  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, bring your liquid of choice to barely a simmer. If you’re a temperature kind of person, aim for 150 F. Don’t boil the fondue!


  1. Meanwhile, toss the shredded cheese with cornstarch until it’s evenly dispersed.
  2. Reduce heat to low and slowly add the cheese, one small handful at a time. Stir each addition until it’s melted before adding the next handful. Repeat until all the cheese is melted. If you’re adding any additional ingredients, stir them in now.
  3. When all the cheese is melted, transfer the mixture to a fondue pot set on low, if you have one. Alternatively, use a small crockpot set on low. Serve immediately.


TIPS: Dippers can be as simple or as elaborate as you desire, or your budget requires. Cubes of bread, roasted potatoes or steak fries, slices of apple and pear, red bell pepper, broccoli florets and smoked sausage are classic.

For a variety of affordable breads, haunt your local bakery’s “oops we baked too much” racks in advance of your party.


All of us at Divas On a Dime wish you a bright New Year filled with hope, peace and new beginnings.


Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com


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