There’s nothing more impressive than an exquisitely designed cheeseboard. But with all the different styles of cheese and the range of accompaniments, it can be hard to know where to start. Whether you’re hosting at home or are being invited to another party, here are five essential tips on how to make the perfect cheeseboard.
Keep your guests in mind, always.
The first and the most important consideration when creating a cheese board is you want to make it approachable to your guest. Are they cheese newbies, are they cheese fans or are they certified cheese lovers? The idea of a cheeseboard is to be enjoyed with friends and guests. Always include some known cheeses that your guest will recognize, like pecorino, gorgonzola, and parmigiano reggiano. You can include cheeses they may be unfamiliar with, but make sure they are not challenging to them.
How much cheese should you serve? Great question, with many answers. It depends on when you are going to serve it and the style of serving. If you are making individual cheese plates as a course in a full meal, 3-4 ounces per person will be plenty. If you are hosting a beer or wine hour and no other food is being served, 6 ounces per person should be enough. If you are hosting a longer gathering, around 8 ounces per person for about most of the invited guests. But, believe it or not, not all your guests will eat all of the cheese. You will want to serve more cheese for hour-plus event with drinks - your guests will need food.
Making the perfect cheeseboard
What cheeses make a great cheeseboard? There is a vast world of cheeses at all price points. Consider selecting an interesting combination of budget-friendly cheeses and smaller pieces of higher priced, special cheeses for variety. Shopping for cheese at a shop that cuts your cheese to order will help you stay in your budget, just let the monger know. For the picks, these are our suggestions:
A double or triple cream
Everyone loves a classic buttery, creamy cheese, we like a ripe Green Hill from Georgia or Brillat-Savarin from France.
A firm cows milk cheese
Aged cheddar or Comte are always loved, these are cheeses that many know of and enjoy.
A soft ripened goat cheese
Couronne de Fontenay from France are nice to serve whole, a slice of Sofia from Capriole is always beautiful.
A mild but flavorful sheep milk cheese
Oveja Negra Manchego from Spain or Pecorino Maremma, either are flavorful but not overwhelmingly sheepy.
A mild blue cheese
Blue cheese can be strong and pungent, but for a guest friendly cheeseboard a more mild blue is optimal. A dolce gorgonzola is like blue cheese ice cream, or Grevenbroecker a uniquely marbled blue cheese looks stunning on your presentation.
Match the flavors to the chosen wine or beverage
Do you match the cheese to the beverage or the other way around? It depends. If you are celebrating with a special bottle of wine, if your guests are all craft beer folks, then match your cheese picks to pair with your beverage of choice. If it's not clear what your group will be drinking, look for cheeses with a broader appeal. Here are some pointers:
A great wine for cheese. The fruit, acid and bubbles of the wine help keep your pallet refreshed, without being a bold singular flavor. It is also lower in alcohol and people generally sip fizzy wine. Try them with white bloomy rind cheese like camembert and Brie - triple creams are the perfect match when they are soft and creamy.
White burgundy is a great choice, and there are options from all over the globe that are affordable. The floral qualities and richness are great with most firm cows milk, especially cheddar, more mild sheep’s milk cheeses, like Manchego.
Select white wines from the Mosel River in Germany. J.J. Prum is the house favorite.he bottles labeled Kabinett are lighter and less sweet than most Rieslings, and are produced all around the world at almost all price points. Try with our Brabander Goat Gouda or Capriole Sofia, both are great matches.
Made all over the world at all price points, and we suggest one with lower alcohol level, and younger with a lot of fruit flavors or aged to a more mellow perfection. Most Pinot Noirs pair well with firm, full flavored cheeses. Comte from Fort Saint Antoine and Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Wisconsin are great tasting with Pinot Noir.
20 Year Tawny Port
Graham’s is a great example of the Portuguese fortified wine. Most people have heard of trying it with Stilton, like Colston Bassett during the holidays. But it also goes well with white bloomy rind cheeses like the double cream Green Hill from Sweet Grass Dairy. Give it a try and be prepared to be surprised!
This is the perfect time to try at least one new-to-you-cheese
I always like to try a new cheese or an old favorite that may have been years since you last had it. It is always fun to turn your friends and loved ones on to a new cheese. It’s your green light to mix it up, come with something new, and maybe a bit wild. Splurge on a world-class cheese like Rogue Creamery’s Rogue River Blue, judged best cheese at the 2019 World Cheese Championship, the first ever American Cheese winner of the Best of Show award.
The best aspect of a cheese and/or charcuterie board is they are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family. Always make them fun, and enjoy all the taste combinations!