In Home Chefs Club, How Tos

A good cheese board should feature a variety of different cheeses, it should be interesting, beautiful and offer surprises with varied tastes. Typically, it will include both mild and strong, sweet and salty cheese and it will often start with something light and grow richer and stronger as you gradually move through the selection.

Pairing your Cheese and Wine

The mild and creamy cheeses, such as double crème, brie and similar, pair well with something light. A crisp white wine or a very light red wine, such as Pinot Noir, would also be a lovely match. Or try a Chardonnay that isn’t too oaky. 

Firm and aged cheeses, like gouda or havarti, need something with a bit more power. Try a slightly sweeter white wine. If you want to serve a cocktail, try an Old Fashioned with orange notes and sweetness from bourbon.

Blue cheeses like a strong and sweet drink, which can balance out the saltiness of the cheese. Try a red Amarone, a sweet dessert wine (either red or white) with strong raisin and nutty notes, or perhaps a glass of port. 

Cheese Board Components

Cured Meats: Two to three cured meats. Try to go with different textures. Such as thinly sliced prosciutto and paired with hard cured meats like salami, copa, sopressata. 

Cheeses: Let the cheese be the star. Think variety in terms of textures and milks. Try to incorporate at least one soft (or semi-soft) cheese and one hard cheese. Pick cheeses made from different milks: cow, sheep, goat, or a mixture. 

Bread or crackers: Keep the bread and/or crackers simple. Thin slices of baguette, plain breadsticks, or toast is great. Choose crackers that are light on flavor so you can highlight the meats and cheeses. These are nice accompaniments that provide additional crunch and texture.

Olives & Pickles: Olives and other pickled snacks provide a great contrast to the rich meats and cheeses. Think of this like a palate cleanser. The sharp sour notes will cut through the richness of the other items. 

Honey & Jams: For sweetness, add honey and one jam/preserve. If you’re serving brie or blue cheese, honey is much appreciated. Keep the honey and jam in separate containers.

Nuts: Add whichever nut you prefer- walnuts, pistachios, pecans. These are another delicious way to incorporate crunch and textural variety.

Fruits: Grapes, raisins, dried figs, and dried apricots are standard. Depending on the season, it’s great to incorporate fresh fruits like peaches, nectarines, and cherries.

Tips for your Cheese

Be sure to slice your cheeses before serving. There’s nothing worse than seeing a huge block of uncut cheese on a board. It makes it very difficult for guests to serve themselves.

Cut firmer cheeses into small 1/4-inch slices. Crumble softer cheeses like blue cheese into manageable bites. For super soft cheeses like brie, be sure to have a serving knife available.

There is a BIG difference in taste between cold cheese and room temperature cheese. Allow the cheeses to sit out for about 20-30 minutes before serving. Let your red wine aerate and keep your white wine chilled.

Remember the most important thing to do is match drink and cheese in strength. That is, light cheeses go best with light beverages, and heavy cheeses go well with heavy beverages.

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