Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Whole Foods Market.
No Fail Cheese Boards, Wine Pairings And Other Holiday Entertaining Tips
For the holiday season, Global Cheese Buyer Cathy Strange has great tips for creating a foolproof cheese plate, while our Global Wine Buyers Doug Bell and Devon Broglie (a Master Sommelier) found exciting and affordable wine options.
Cheese Plate 101 :: Follow these three simple tips for a no-fail cheese board.
Tip #1: Kick up the Contrast :: Look for contrasts in the visual, textural and flavor experience. Here’s how:
- Visual contrasts :: creamy white cheeses with vivid washed-rinds; for pairings, mix bright berries with darker charcuterie; and for breads and crackers, mix up larger baguette medallions with smaller crostini.
- Textural contrasts :: offer firm and crumbly cheese options alongside soft, oozy varieties; combine fresh breads with crunchy water crackers; paired with chewy dried fruits with nuts.
- Flavor contrasts :: tangy, fresh notes in a goat cheese balanced against mushroomy, earthy notes in a Camembert; salty, savory cheddars with smooth, mild Bries; umami charcuterie flavors with sweet dried fruits or tart fruit spreads. (*Specific cheese recommendations below.)
Tip #2: Don’t Overwhelm :: Three to five different cheeses is plenty. A smaller number of fantastic cheeses wins out over a plateful of so-so cheeses. Two different bread and cracker options is all you need. Add three pairing foods – choose from olives, nuts (walnuts, Marcona almonds, pistachios), marinated veggies, dried fruits, gherkins, fruit spreads, charcuterie … and you’re set!
Tip #3: Give it Time :: Unwrap and arrange your cheeses at least an hour before serving. This gives them time to breathe, helping them show off their wonderful aromatics and nuanced flavors. Slice a few pieces of each cheese so guests feel welcome to nibble right away. Prepare the pairing foods just before serving.
Using the plan above, choose from these options for a fail-safe cheese board, all hand-selected by Strange:
- Hervé Mons Camembert: exclusive recipe developed by Hervé Mons for Whole Foods Market. Enjoy the full flavored and smooth textured cheese from Normandy cows milk.
- Borough Market Stilton: This Colston Basset Stilton cheese made from pasteurized cows milk with vegetable rennet has as rich minerally tang and a butter texture.
- Isigny Sainte-Mère Bonhomme Brie: Made from grass-fed cows in Normandy, this Whole Foods Market exclusive is rich with pleasant mushroom flavors and luscious mouthfeel.
- Borough Market Clothbound Cheddar: Made in the UK from Mary Quicke’s family with a mixture of both Holstein-Friesian and Swedish Red pasteurized cows milk. The flavor has a creamy mouthfeel with flavors both gentle and sweet.
- Payson Breton Le Fromage Fouetté: A fresh whipped cheese made with 100% cow’s milk from a French cooperative in the West Part of France. Enjoy a unique and airy texture perfect for both meals and snacks! (And non-GMO).
- Principe’s San Daniele Prosciutto: Aged to perfection for at least 400 days, this PDO Prosciutto from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region is an Italian classic. Enjoy the velvety texture with complex flavors and slightly sweet notes with an amazingly clean finish. The only ingredients are Italian pork and salt!
- Nuts Over Olives by Bobbysue’s Nuts: A distinctive (and addictive) snack, and the perfect complement for cheese. This mix of nuts and olives are oven-roasted and enveloped in a crunchy, not-too-sweet meringue coating kissed with herbs and spices
Crowd-pleasing Wines to Pair with a Cheese Board:
Domaine Bernard et Cristophe Richel Apremont :: Try a sip off the beaten path with this citrusy French White. Though a rare varietal, Apremont is a sure holiday hit. Aromas of white flowers. Minerality and grapefruit notes. Pairs with Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip.
Casas del Bosque Sauvignon Blanc :: Wafts of pear and jalapeño pepper. Fresh green melon flavors, grapefruit acidity. A nice plush heft in the body moves to a bright, clean finish. Pairs with Hearty Turkey Noodle Soup.
Cave de Lugny Chardonnay :: Aromas of peach and apricot with a touch of citrus. Clean, crisp, nicely balanced with a just-sweet roundness. A food-loving wine! Pairs with: Baked Camembert with Fresh Herbs
The Stash Pinot Noir :: Ripe cherry and plum aromas. Stone fruit flavors, then white pepper, blackberry, even hints of sassafras and cola. Mouth-filling yumminess. Pairs with Maple-Sage Cornish Hens with Roast Apples.
Squadra Rosso :: Wild herb and red berry aromas. Juicy ripe blackberry flavors, a touch of pepper and rustic minerality. The Sicilians know how to make a Red! Pairs with Roast Leg of Lamb with Pomegranate Wine Sauce.
Michel Chapoutier Marius Red Blend :: A big, bold and full-bodied Red. Spicy black fruit aromas. A touch of earthiness. Hints of coffee and pepper balanced with a vanilla note. Pairs with Homestyle Meatloaf.
Joel Gott Grenache :: Blackberry, strawberry, vanilla aromas. Blueberry and slight butterscotch flavors. Peppery acidity. Elegance for days. Pairs with Crispy Roasted Duck with Fig and Port Sauce.
Santa Julia Reserva Mountain Blend :: Aromas of red plum, violet and spice. Dark red fruit flavors, stewed berries and cobbler. Velvety mouthfeel. Full-bodied. Pairs with Classic Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine-Shallot Pan Sauce
Sea Pines Old Vine Petite Sirah :: Deep plum and blueberry aromas. Warm spice notes. Generous roundness, silky tannins. Dark fruit flavors in the long finish. A rich, ripe California Red. Pairs with Garlic Roasted Beef Brisket.
Bula Montsant :: Attractive floral aromas. Layers of raspberry, rocky minerality and a subtle cherry sweetness. Richness in the finish, balanced by robust tannins. Pairs with Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Romesco Sauce.
Madame Liberté Brut :: A bright golden bubbly, redolent with aromas of green apple, pear and a touch of toast. Baked apple flavors. Zippy acidity. Crisp and refreshing. Pairs with Smoked Salmon Hash and Eggs.