8 Apr

Home Entertaining: The Art of Cheese

If you love to entertain, the cheeseboard is the ultimate centerpiece to an at-home gathering.  When it comes to entertaining,  there are truly millions of options. However, one constant ‘go-to’ that you’ll find at nearly every gathering is some form of a cheeseboard. A cheeseboard doesn’t require a world class chef  to prepare or the palate of a connoisseur to create. There are a few basic ideas to stick to, but other than that – let your creativity take over.


The Cheese, Defined

The first thing to remember when creating a cheeseboard is that you want a great balance of flavors (strong to mild), textures, colors, shapes and sizes. Visiting a reputable local wine and cheese market, like our store Vine and Table, to become familiar with your local offerings.

When planning a board, keep in mind this simple rhyme” ‘Something old, something new, something goat and something blue.” Catchy, isn’t it? This easy rhyme can help guide your choices to creating the ultimate cheeseboard with varied tastes and textures.

Old means aged. The longer a cheese ages, the harder and crumblier the texture becomes. Typically these aged cheeses are a little saltier, but full of great flavor.

New cheese hasen’t quite aged as long. Fresh cheeses like mozzarella, burrata, ricotta and marscapone are part of this category. Milky-white in color, due to a higher moisture content, these flavors are very, very mild. Younger cheeses also have a softer texture. However, queso fresco and feta are also in this category and present more crumbly than soft.

Fresh or aged, goat cheeses are everywhere.  Cheeses made from goats milk tend to have a stronger taste than cow’s milk. Usually when you hear or see goat cheese, it refers to chevre – which is fresh goat cheese.

The blue veins of blue cheeses are the result of a cheese that is inoculated with mold and allowed to age. Don’t worry, it is very safe to eat. Blues can be very strong if they have been aged for a long time, or milder flavors in newer cheeses.

via honestcooking.com

via honestcooking.com

The Cheeseboard

The secret to a winning cheeseboard is finding cheeses and accompaniments that go well together and that appeal to you and your guests. You want to create something that is enticing and gorgeous – as well as delicious. The art of cheese is that it can be had at nearly any point in a meal whether you’re offering a cheeseboard as a hors d’oeuvre, or dessert itself.

When it comes to cheeseboard design, there are no rules! Let your imagination run wild. Be inspired by the colors or countries of origin. Labeling cheeses is a good idea, especially for the more cautious guests. Use this element to your advantage when creating your display. Perhaps you prefer a rustic look with dark wood cutting boards or chalk and black slate. The ideas are infinite can be a reflection of the evening experience you want to provide your guests.

Keep in mind…

  • Select a large, flat tray or plate to serve the cheese on.
  • Remember to consider the size of the serving piece – you want your platter to look full but not crowded.
  • Have knives readily available for each cheese and a small spoon for any gooey cheeses.
  • Serve cheese at room temperature- especially very gooey cheeses.

It is important to remember your audience and not make them uncomfortable with obscure selections. Demonstrate your expertise by making your cheeseboard simple and beautiful.  If you worry about not providing enough, plan on 3-5oz of cheese per person, depending on if it is a dessert course (less needed) or a standalone display (more needed).


via honestlyyum.com

Cheeses are best paired with…

Cheese is great on its own but even better when paired with the right accompaniment such as fruit or nuts. These additions truly add to the flavor experience of each individual cheese, as well as finish off the total look of the cheeseboard making it more enticing to the eye.

  • Sweet red grapes
  • Spicy dried salami, thinly sliced
  • Quince or fig jam
  • Honey
  • Water crackers and baguette
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Pitted olives
  • Dried fruits
  • Nuts such as almonds, cashews, and pistachios

via dallasnews.com

Pairing Wine and Cheese

If you’re new to pairing, it’s generally a good idea to match wines and cheese from the same region. However, there are exceptions to this rule and it doesn’t always guarantee a perfect pairing, but it’s a good guideline to keep it mind.

Overall, harder cheese tend to pair better with red wines and soft, creamy cheese do very well with white and sparkling wines. Keep bold cheeses with bold wines. Bolder, stronger wines tend to pair best with strong cheeses. For example, the bold taste of blue cheese pairs very well with the strong, rich tannins of red wines and overpowers the more subtle, smooth tastes of white wines.

Our recommendations…

  • Sauvignon Blanc : asiago, goat, gouda and gruyere
  • Pinot Noir : feta, gouda, port salut, swiss
  • Pino Gris : edam, goat, gouda, muenster
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: blue, camembert
  • Zinfandel: blue, cheddar, feta
  • Riesling : blue, brie, Colby, gouda
  • Merlot : brie, camembert, cheddar, gorgonzola
  • Champagne: beaufort, brie, colby, edam

Don’t be afraid to try something new or offer your guests a personal favorite of your own. Someone may fall in love with one of the selections. It may be blue and older than you, but you never know! In the unlikely event that you are left with uneaten cheese at the end of your gathering, cheese papers are a great way to store them for later.

Our store, Vine and Table, offers much more than just cheeses and wines. They also have the finest selection of spirits, beers, chocolates, gift baskets, and other gourmet foods – perfect for the art of entertaining. To learn more about  Vine and Table’s selections, visit www.vineandtable.com or stop by and talk with an associate at the store to see for yourself. 

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