Admit it, at some point in your life you have had cheese board envy. Whether as a house guest over the holidays, or when dining out at a restaurant, you will have been presented with a board of cheese and accompanying delights that (almost) looked too good to tuck into! Well, we’re here to help you become the star of the show this Christmas by sharing some top tips on how to serve cheese, how to store it and of course, how to create the ultimate cheese board.
How to make a cheese board
One of the greatest things about a cheese board is you can create something awesome with a minimal amount of effort. The rewards you can reap, in terms of compliments, recommendations and repeat guest acceptances are well worth the time it takes to follow some simple tips and make sure you’ve got all the necessary elements in stock. So here goes…
1.It’s not just what you serve, it’s what you serve it on
Think about the platter, board or tray you will use to serve your cheese on. You want to make sure you’ve got space for all the elements and to showcase your gorgeous cheeses, but at the same time you don’t really want to have empty space as the trick is to fill the board to perfection to give the impression of abundance. A large wooden chopping board or serving platter works well if you don’t have a designated cheese board and of course, this is the time to get your cheese knives, butter knives and cocktail picks out on display.
2.Choose your cheese wisely
When it comes to cheese everyone has their preferences, so a cheese board should cater for all tastes. The best advice is to present a broad mix of strengths, textures, shapes and colors. For example, make sure you have at least one hard cheese such as Cheddar or Manchego, one blue cheese such as Stilton, one soft cheese such as a cream cheese, one mild cheese such as Gouda and one nutty-tasting cheese such as Comté. By assembling a cheese board with all of these different tastes and textures you’ll also find the pieces of cheese vary in color, size and shape, helping you to deliver the wow factor.
3.To slice or not to slice?
That is the question, and to be honest it’s down to personal preference. Pre-slicing your cheese or chopping it into more manageable size chunks might make it easier for your guests to grab, but in keeping with creating the cheese board of all cheese boards, it does look better if you leave it unsliced and provide plenty of cheese knives so people can help themselves.
4.The cheese is just the start
If you thought a dream cheese board was just cheese and a few crackers think again. To truly impress this Christmas, you’ll need to add condiments and accompaniments to your cheese board to compliment your choice of cheeses. There's no hard and fast rule as to what you pick, but it can help to choose certain types of condiments for example:
- Something salty to accentuate the saltiness of your cheese - i.e. charcuterie meats such as salami or sausage, olives, pickles or tapenades.
- Something crunchy to create contrast to all that lovely soft cheese. You could try crackers, breadsticks, bagel crisps, celery sticks, slices of bell pepper or nuts.
- Something fruity to cut through the creaminess of the cheese for example, grapes, pears, apricots or apples.
- Condiments such as chutneys, preserves, jams and salsas.
- The finishing touches - such as dried flowers, a sprig of rosemary or some fresh herbs.
Top tips on how to store and serve cheese
To get the most enjoyment out of cheese it helps to know how to store and serve it, as this will bring out the best flavors.
Storing cheese - when you wrap your cheese in plastic, eventually it starts to take on the plasticky flavor, which totally ruins the taste. Instead of plastic wrap opt for parchment or wax paper and wrap it up after each use. Store in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator as the temperature is cold and stable. As a general rule, the harder the cheese the longer you can keep it and if it’s really stinky, store it in its own plastic container so it doesn’t contaminate the taste of everything else in your refrigerator.
Serving cheese - most cheeses taste best when served at room temperature, so remember to remove them from the refrigerator in advance of when you want to serve them. When cutting cheese bear in mind that if it has come from a wheel, the taste varies from rind to centre, so each piece needs to be a wedge that contains some from the edge and some from the centre.
Pairing wine and cheese
At any time of year, but particularly at Christmas, it’s lovely to sample a cheese board with some fine wines and good company. Knowing what wines to serve with your cheese can elevate your hostess status even further so follow these general guidelines when picking your Christmas wines. It’s also worth bearing in mind that although these are guidelines to follow, if you are buying artisan cheeses remember that they can differ from batch to batch and cheesemaker to cheesemaker even if they are the same style of cheese from the same region, so in our eyes this is just a good excuse to crack open the wine and get experimenting!
In general, here are a few wine pairing rules to follow:
- Bolder, full bodied wines tend to complement stronger cheeses.
- Youthful wines tend to compliment lighter tasting cheeses.
- Hard cheeses such as Cheddar or Manchego pair well with medium-bodied reds such as Rioja, Barolo or Cabernet Sauvignon, but you don’t have to stick to red, why not try a Chardonnay to complement your hard cheese?
- Semi hard cheeses such as Comté or Gruyère pair well with Pinot Noir or acidic whites such as Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling.
- Pungent blue cheeses such as Stilton or Roquefort pair well with sweet, fruity wines or port.
- Soft cheeses can be more difficult to find good pairings, but they generally work well with light, fruity reds such as Beaujolais or with rosé wine.
Ordering your cheese in time for Christmas
If, having read this advice, you are planning on creating the ultimate cheese board this Christmas you’ll need your cheese to be the real talking point. We select all of our cheeses from artisan cheesemakers, doing the hard work for you in choosing cheeses that are made in small batches, using traditional methods to get the most authentic flavors.
Build your own box now and choose from our delicious range of cheeses to have them delivered to your doorstep ready for your festive gatherings.