We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
A quick and easy guide to the best wine and cheese combinations
Is that the right wine for this cheese?
In the world of wine today, there is no longer the simple choice between white and red when serving wine to guests at a party. There are countless varieties of wines out there, and even careers devoted to picking the perfect sip. Add the endless varieties of cheese to the mix, and you have a perplexing conundrum of options to choose from. Which wine pairs perfectly with which cheese? Will the sharp flavor of Parmesan contrast with intense merlot? Is mozzarella too subtle to pair with a chardonnay?
Well, fret no more, because here is a simple pairing guide courtesy of Love Letters to Home that clarifies which wine best complements the most commonly used party cheeses. So the next time you’re setting up your wine and cheese appetizer display at your party, check out this guide and never stress about wine and cheese pairing again.
Brie — Chardonnay
Gouda- — Merlot
Sharp White Cheddar — Cabernet Sauvignon
Parmesan — Chianti
Gruyère — Sauvignon Blanc
Blue — Riesling
Ricotta — Pinot Grigio
Mozzarella — Sauvignon Blanc
An Illustrated Guide To Pairing Wine And Cheese
One marriage no one can object to is the mouthwatering combination of wine and cheese. Each is delicious on its own, but when you pair the two, magic can happen. Be it tannic, light, sweet, or dry, you can bet there’s a wine out there for every cheese (even fondue!). The next time you fix yourself up a cheese plate, here are the wines you should be bringing along for the ride.
Port And Bleu Cheese
Port’s sweetness and thick body are the perfect foil for pungent, crumbly bleu cheese.
Why Every Cheese Lover Needs Great Cheese Knives
Prosecco And Parmesan
The bubbles in Prosecco cut through the saltiness of this hard cheese. Plus, they’re both Italian!
Sauternes And Fondue
The richness of fondue is a match made in heaven for decadent dessert wine Sauternes.
Cabernet Sauvignon And Aged Gouda
In order to stand up to the nutty flavors in aged gouda, you need a tannic, full bodied wine. Cabernet Sauvignon gets the job done.
Chardonnay And Gruyere
Whether you choose to snack on gruyere whole or melty, the fruit and nut flavors in Chardonnay are an ideal mate.
Rioja And Manchego
This sweet, classic cheese calls for the quintessential Spanish wine: Rioja!
Riesling And Ricotta
Sweet, creamy ricotta loves tangy Riesling. Try ricotta with both the sweet and the dry variations of this German classic wine.
Malbec And Aged Cheddar
Chocolatey Malbec helps balance out the aggressive sharpness in aged cheddar. Who’s up for a bowl of adult macaroni and cheese?
Gewürztraminer And Morbier
Gewürztraminer is the perfect white wine to cut through the stink of morbier
Pinot Noir And Brie
Brie needs a wine that will go well with its distinct flavors while remaining light enough not to overwhelm them. Here are some awesome brie cheese recipes to pair with a good glass of Pinot Noir, brie’s best friend.
Beaujolais And Feta
You want a bright red wine that will match feta’s saltiness. Beaujolais (or a light Greek wine!) is the answer.
Viognier And Jarlsberg
The stone fruits found (like peaches) in Viognier mouthwateringly cut through the savory flavors of Jarlsberg.
Monterey Jack And Merlot
This classic American cheese craves a wine that’s on the lighter, fruitier side – just like Merlot.
Mozzarella And Pinot Grigio
The acidity of Pinot Grigio tangos well with this soft, slightly sweet classic pizza cheese.
Sauvignon Blanc And Goat Cheese
Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect distinct white wine to pair with this tangy cheese.
How to cut it? Uniform cubes in 1/2″ to 1″
Pairings: Sharp cheddar can swing either way in terms of sweet or savory. For sweet, you can’t beat the combination of apple + cheddar – so go for an apple butter or slices of fresh apple. Because it goes so well with sweet and salty at once, we love sharp cheddar with a mostarda – like Giada’s grape or apricot recipes (whole grapes make a good combo too!). Cheddar always goes great served alongside some salty cured Italian meats – think Calabrese and Soppresata.
A Chart For Pairing Cheese and Wine For Beginners
Each wine is unique. Is your wine spicy and dry? Smooth the rigid tannins out along with the bracing acidity by pairing it with a cheese that is slightly less firm. The fat content in the cheese will complement the tannins and the high acidity of the wine is absorbed by the texture. For example, a Chardonnay from Burgundy and a 5-month aged Brie.
Learn about wine’s basic characteristics to perfect your very own pairings:
A Frenchman once told me, “Life is too short to have bad wine and cheese…“
Every glass of wine or cheese plate is delicious all by itself, however, when pairing two of them, that is when the magic occurs. Whether it is dry, sweet, light, or tannic, it is known there is a wine available for every cheese out there. So the next time you are getting a cheese plate organized (we like this simple setup by Shanik), the following wines are the ones you should pair them with to enjoy them to their fullest.
Cheese is a complex product and often has pungent and intense aromas along with tastes that vary from strong and complex to delicate. For those reasons, it is not always easy to combine cheese with wine.
*Cheese will act as an intrusive food. In general, you should pair cheese with wines that have an equal and adequate grade of “intrusiveness.”
Advanced Criteria for Vino and Cheese
It is known among avid tasters that there are many criteria to follow. For example, there are some experts who select geographical criteria to pair wines and cheeses originating from the same locations. When you follow this rule you can perfectly pair the Grana Padano Oltrepò Pavese, while a Castelmagno will go very well with a Barolo wine.
Many other people prefer to make their choices according to the products’ organoleptic properties. The intensity and concentration of the flavors of wines and cheese need to match. That means an aged cheese, like a Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano, goes nicely with an aged full-bodied red wine. Medium-aged cheese – like Asiago and Emmenthal – match well with a medium-bodied red wine. If the cheese is delicate and fresh, the wine is perfumed and light.
Red or White Wine, there is no correct cheese pairing
Also, it is known that red wine pairs the best with cheese. However, this so-called “rule” is false, due to the incredible diversity within cheese’s qualities. Fresh cheeses that have a certain acidity – like Robiola or Mozzarella may be matched perfectly with many rose and white wines. That is one of the possibilities of matching cheeses and wines.
Along with the products’ overall structure, consider the internal balance of their flavors are there various fatty elements that taste spicy, salty, or sweet? In several cases, to balance out the sensory experience, base the right combination on contrast. What a contrast does is smooth out the excess fatness from the cheese with sharpness elements (like acidity of tannins), and soft flavors with strong flavors, and sweetness and alcohol with the presence of mold.
What Cheese goes best with Fortified Wines?
In respect to that, give consideration for tangy and spicy cheese with a pungent flavor, like long ripened cheeses or blue cheese great combinations with fortified wines and sweet dessert wines. For example, Stilton combines ideally with Porto wine, Gorgonzola goes nicely with fortified wines that have an appreciable sweetness, like Marsala Superiore, and aromatic sweet wines like Passito di Pantelleria and Roquefort goes wonderfully with Sauternes.
Sweet wines and cheese are one of the most exciting pairings. However, this option should only be proposed when cheese is eaten on its own and is the only course in the meal or served after the meal. If several wines are being served and you are unsure what cheese to pair it with, a very popular choice and safe bets with all different styles of wine is a nutty, firm cheese. These cheese have enough fat content to counterbalance the tannins found in red wine, but still delicate enough to complicate a delicate white wine. A couple of examples include Gouda, Emmental, Comté Extra, Abbaye de Belloc, and Swiss, Gruyère.
Check out the extensive Wine and Cheese Pairing Chart below:
Thinking of giving someone a gift basket of wine and cheese? Take a look at the selection here!
Our Wine & Cheese Board Pairing Guide (with White & Red!) For The Perfect Tasting Party
Let me start this post by saying one thing: I love wine, but I'm far from a connoisseur. If you're anything like me, then you have your go-to varietals at the store, and you know enough to know what you like and don't like, but you probably don't have the palate to spout out tasting notes like "hints of tobacco" and "fruity on the nose".
If that's the case then I hope you'll join me on this first of many posts where I'm educating myself - and you - on some wine basics that are going to serve us all well when it comes to enjoying and entertaining with wine! Staring with the most classic wine pairing guide: the cheese board. For this first round of our education, I've teamed up with J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines to showcase how to pair with two of their most popular varietals: The J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay and the J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon.
I learned early on in my very limited wine education that even a wine I don't typically love can benefit from the right pairing. So if you're not a Chardonnay or a Cab fan, I'd like to challenge you to make this board and taste these pairings, and then see where you stand on things!
It's also important to keep in mind that these bottles are California wines. Knowing the AVA (that's wine talk for American Viticulture Area) when trying out a new bottle is helpful because it's entirely possible to discover that you enjoy a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Paso Robles AVA (like this one) as compared to other popular areas of California that you may have tasted (ahem, Napa). This is incredibly helpful when staring down the wine aisle at the grocery store. Hone in not only the varietal you like (Cabernet Sauvignon) but the area or AVA you tend to enjoy more, too.
Ok, back to the pairings!
The basic idea here is to learn a little about the wine you've selected (ie, the tasting notes), and then use that to help with the pairings. J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines provided us tasting notes for both wines, and I attached those to the bottles for our little wine pairing party so that people could start to get an idea of what they were sipping! Next I read up a ton on basic wine pairing concepts, down to specifics of what to pair these particular wines with, and came up with a list of ingredients that worked well with these wines. Here's what I ended up with:
Pairings for Chardonnay: I define Chardonnays as a 'rich' white (as opposed to a dry white), which means you want flavors that are subtle, smooth, fatty, or creamy.
- Basil Pesto: a classic spread rich with cheese and oils.
- Almonds: a subtle nut that leans more creamy, especially marcona almonds without the skin!
- Classic Brie: the smooth nature of this cheese balances the wine perfectly. stay away from overly-aged or 'stinky' forms of these softer cheeses, and stick with the classic.
- Sesame Crackers: any basic cracker will do, but sesame specifically pairs well with chardonnay.
- Dried Orange: to pick up on the citrus notes in the wine!
- Havarti: very creamy and very buttery, this one proved to be a particular favorite with this chardonnay!
- Prosciutto: a lighter, fatty meat with a subtle flavor is more ideal than a rich, smokey or spicy pairing.
Pairings for Cabernet Sauvignon: Consider this red a more middle-of-the-road varietal. It's not light, but it's not overly robust, which makes it enjoyable with many dishes - rich, savory, and subtle nutty or earthy is where you want to take this red.
- Sun Dried Tomato Pesto: the oils tone down the usual sharpness of sun dried tomato. A perfect spread for crackers!
- Walnuts: this dryer, savory nut is complementary to most reds.
- Camembert: a slightly earthy flavor that pairs well with a medium (or light!) body red.
- Aged Gouda: this creamy but nutty cheese will actually accentuate the tannins in a more powerful cabernet (we'll have to have a lesson on tannins another time, yes?)
- Rosemary Crackers: similar to the reason we chose sesame crackers for the white drinkers, here we love the way herbs pairs with the flavors in the red. black pepper would also work nicely!
- Dried Cherries: back to our trick of using one flavor to enhance the other - the dried cherry here brings out the cherry in the Cabernet.
- Gorgonzola: blue cheese can be tricky with Cabernets, but this milder form is ideal because the flavors skew creamier and nuttier rather than sharp.
The best part of this party was seeing people's reactions as they slowly tasted their way through the board paired with the wine they were drinking. Most of us are red drinkers, so diving into the J. Lohr Chardonnay was met with some skepticism. The havarti cheese and the orange rind pairings seemed to make the most impact on people's palate though! And all of us were pleasantly surprised with how much of a difference they made in tasting the wine.
I loved the J. Lohr Cabernet, even on its own, and that's not typical for me with all Cabs. Bonus points for a wine party like this: not only are you learning a bit about wine, but it creates a fun, natural way to kick up conversation. I think I'm going to keep this pairing party in my back pocket for when bringing new smaller groups of friends together!
I would love to know what youwant to learn more about as we continue our wine education around here! Would you like to see selections of affordable wine favorites? Learn more about tasting notes and tannins? How much should we nerd out? I'm excited to bring more wine content to our pages, and dive into this subject more with you!
This post was created in partnership with J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. All opinions expressed are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help bring original content to coco kelley!
How to Pair Wine and Cheese Like an Expert
There's never been a better time to explore wine and cheese in America.
Have we entered a golden age of wine and cheese pairings? Cheese is on the same journey as wine, with more cheesemongers ushering an array of classic and trendy new cheeses to American dinner tables. Some of the finest, award-winning cheeses are available in most local supermarkets, so divining a good wine and cheese pairing today is easier than ever.
Laura Werlin, a James Beard Award-winning author with six books on cheese including Cheese Essentials and Grilled Cheese Please, suggests the reason is simple. “Wine and cheese are two very humble products that are both fermented and both taste like the place where they came from,” she says. Pairing them together is really about having fun, she says. 𠇍on’t let your head get in the way.”
Werlin says that one simple rule is to be aware is acidity. “The least successful pairings are most likely to happen with super oaky, low-acid wines,” she says. 𠇌heese tends to bring out the tannins in oak. What you’re looking for in the wine is some degree of acidity to cut through the richness of the cheese.” If you’re uncertain about the level of acidity in wine, ask a knowledgeable friend or wine retail expert to guide you.
I asked Master Sommelier Matt Stamp, co-owner of the restaurant and wine shop Compline in Napa, California, for more tips. Stamp says to “save the big reds for aged cheeses with grainier, crumbly textures. Light crisp white wines often call for fresher cheeses you can easily pair zesty, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc with tangy goat&aposs milk cheeses like chevre or feta.” His favorite pairing is Madeira and a good aged Cheddar because “the nutty tones in the cheese and wine are genius together.”
Beyond classics like brie and chunks of Parmigiano, some of the trends are leaning toward more Alpine-style cheeses, which are “similar to Comté in France, Gruyère, and Appenzeller,” Werlin says. “I’m also seeing more spruce-wrapped cheeses along with mixed-milk cheeses. And we’re beginning to see more booze in cheese, like Ubriaco, a 𠆍runken’ unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese infused with wine, which you so don’t want to like, but I’m sorry—it’s really good.”
With some guidance from Werlin, here are 13 delicious wine and cheese pairings, painstakingly tested over a couple of weeks. Let this list serve as a basic guide. There are no hard and fast rules, and by all means, experiment!
Washed-Rind Cheese: Berthaut Époisses
Wine Pairing: NV Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut, Champagne, France ($79)
Champagne is cheese’s best friendpable of eliciting a mouthful of magic with just about any cheese in the world. The bubbles dance on the tongue, and as Werlin says, “scrub away” the cheese on your palate in cleansing fashion, making way for another bite of cheese. So, even if Époisses, a soft, pungent, sweet and salty cow&aposs milk cheese primarily made in Burgundy’s Côte-d&aposOr region in France, isn’t your favorite, go for gold and try it all: cow, sheep, goat, soft, semi-soft, hard, surface-ripened, blue. This Bollinger delivers lip-smacking granny smith apple, poached pears, stony minerality, and a subtle earthy, mushroom note, all with bracing acidity. Paired with Époisses, it’s like who’s who? Am I tasting the cheese or the Champagne? So good.
Semi-Hard Cheese: Piave-Vecchio
Wine Pairing: 2017 Tenuta Sant&aposAntonio Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Monti Garbi ($22)
Piave is a well known Italian cow&aposs milk cheese, and Piave-Vecchio, an unpasteurized, slightly aged version, is especially good with Italian reds. The cheese is firm, mild, and slightly salty, layered with grassy and nutty notes. Paired with this Monti Garbi, a blend of mostly Corvina and Rondinella grapes, the salty notes in the cheese almost elevate the fruit component in the wine, which is packed with red currants, brown spices, and a deep roasted coffee note atop baked cherry compote, with grippy acidity. Tenuta Sant&aposAntonio also makes mpo Dei Gigli” an Amarone della Valpolicella, which offers deep Kirsch, sultana, and brown sugar flavors, revealing distinct nutty notes when paired with the Piave-Vecchio.
Soft-Ripened Triple-Cream Cheese: Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam
Wine Pairing: 2017 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay Napa Valley ($58)
Montelena winemaker Matt Crafton suggested a triple cream or an aged comté with his Chardonnay𠅊 taste-test that didn’t require much arm-twisting of my wife to help me decide. We landed on Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt Tam, a three-week aged, pasteurized cow’s milk triple cream. Though the style of Chardonnay, which is really fresh, with integrated oak spices and zesty acidity, really lends itself to both the triple cream and comté. The creamy, buttery quality of the Mt Tam seems to imbue the Chardonnay with richer floral, fruit, and mineral qualities, while the comté, rich with nutty, earthy notes, is something to enjoy with an aged Chardonnay, like Montelena’s, which after five to seven years in the bottle develops buttery, caramelly, and earthy notes.
Hard Cheese: Emmi Gruyère
Wine Pairing: 2018 Domaine Marcel Lapierre Julienas, Beaujolais, France ($42)
The late Marcel Lapierre (the winery is helmed by his son, Mathieu) was a leading voice on natural wine, a category hard to define because of so many varying opinions. In general, the wines tend to be lighter-bodied, more delicate, often lower in alcohol, and typically unrefined or unfiltered𠅋ut there are plenty of exceptions to even that generality. With these, go with a mellow cheese, not super salty or acidity, but more savory, grassy, and a little buttery, like Gruyère. You could, depending on the wine, go with a cheese a bit higher in acid like a creamy goat cheese such as Humboldt Fog, or an aged goat cheese like Spanish Garrotxa, which has some earthiness. This Lapierre Julienas is remarkably bright, with vivid red berry fruit, earth, spice, and loads of natural acidity with young, ripe tannins. It’s a baby, but paired with Gruyère, and maybe a little speck or prosciutto—that’s happiness bite after bite, sip after sip.
Semi-Hard Cheese: Herve Mons Gabietou
Wine Pairing: 2017 Domaine du Pelican Arbois Chardonnay, Jura, France ($45)
This sheep and cow’s milk cheese comes all the way from France’s rugged and stunning Basque country, along the western Pyrenees Mountains that border Spain. The zippy acidity of this French Chardonnay from the lush Jura region (close to Switzerland) has a candied-ginger-like spice, wet stone minerality, crushed almonds, and the kicker, a kind of cheese-rind quality, which combined with the firm, but sweet-cream notes of this Gabietou, delivers an astounding pas de deux bursting with wildflowers, deep earthy minerality and a disappearing act—the bottle and the cheese will be gone well before dinner is even close to being ready.
Hard Cheese: British-Style English Cheddar or Pecorino Toscano
Wine Pairing: 2016 Domaine Barons de Rothschild Légende Medoc ($26)
Most of the world’s Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend to have big, powerful tannins, which with cheese, means fewer choices. Aim for an aged Cabernet where the tannins have mellowed and the fruit has taken a backseat. The earthy quality of a Bordeaux, like this “Légende” red, marries nicely with British-style cow’s milk cheddars from makers like Neil’s Yard or William Cofield Cheesemakers’ cloth-bound and grainy McKinley Cheddar. You could also try sheep’s milk Tuscan Pecorino (not Pecorino Romano, which is too salty). Whatever you do, no blue cheese and Cabernet! It tends to produce a metallic taste that’s really unappealing, unless the Cabernet in question is a total fruit-bomb, in which case you’ll survive.
Essentials for a Wine and Cheese Party
Pairing wine and cheese is always a fun way to entertain guests. These essentials will make sure that you have everything on hand for the night.
- Variety of different cheeses
- Light food options (crackers, fruit, nuts, etc)
- Wine Glasses (both red wine and white wine size)
- Champagne Flutes (if you plan to try champagne)
- Ice Bucket (to keep the white wine and champagne chilled)
- Wine Cork and Bottle stoppers
- Wine Score sheet (download mine in the description above
Keep these pairings in mind. There are many others but these work well for beginners
- Camembert with Champagne
- Gouda with Merlot
- Sharp Cheddar with Cabernet Sauvignon
- Gorgonzola with Port
- Feta Cheese with Beaujolais
- Parmesan Cheese with Chianti
- Brie with Chardonnay.
The general rule of thumb is to purchase 1-2 ounces of wine per glass, of each wine for each tasting. Multiply that by your number of guests and you will know how many ounces of wine of each type to buy.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Thursday 25th of July 2019
Thanks for explaining that wine glasses should be clear so that the true color of the wine can be observed. My husband and I want to buy some Cabernet Sauvignon so we can throw a wine and cheese party with a few close friends. I'm glad I read your article because I need to buy some wine glasses for the party, and now I feel a lot more prepared to start shopping!
What to consider before you start building the Ultimate Wine and Cheese Board?
How many people are you inviting? Everyone of your friends may not appreciate a wine and cheese board because all of us have those beer guzzling, wing chomping friends. So, pick your guest list carefully and invite a select group of people. If you are serving the wine and cheese board as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre, you’ll need about 20-30 grams per person (1 to 1.5 ounces)
Are there any cheese you want to avoid or definitely include? After all you are the host/hostess here so if you absolutely love a particular cheese or hate it, you can alter the choices accordingly
Are you serving other appetizers at the party? Every time I’ve dished out a wine and cheese board I’ve realized too late that the three other appetizers I made have been practically untouched. An ultimate cheese platter gives you everything – cheese, crackers, breads, fruits, charcuterie (cold cuts of meat), salty nibbles etc. So, at the end most people don’t have an appetite for other snacks if they’ve snacked on everything on the cheese board
What wines are you serving? Great wine tastes even better with cheese. In fact, any wine tastes better with cheese. I’m no connoisseur, but duh, even I know that. Choosing your wines first to determine what cheeses would go with it or vice versa will always make sure things come together, and your wine and cheese are not at odds
What’s your budget? We are definitely focusing on building a wine and cheese board that doesn’t make a dent in our pocket here, but knowing what your budget is beforehand can really help make the right decisions. Because it’s so easy to go overboard with one of these. There is really no limit to expensive.
Once you’ve figured this out, you are ready to make the ultimate wine and cheese board on a budget and here’s everything you need to put it together.
Step #1: Pick a base for your Cheese Board
You really don’t need a specialty base or one of those fancy slates for your cheese board. Look around the house and you’ll definitely find something. Old cutting boards, pizza boards and even old baking sheets can all make great bases for cheese boards. I love using my round old pizza board that has a handle so it makes serving easier.
Step #2: Pick your cheese and arrange them
This is my favorite part (obviously). To get the best bargain deals on your cheeses, which can turn out to be the most expensive part, head to a large supermarket in your area. They usually have a cheese counter and also have a cold storage section. Check out both and compare for the best deals. I usually buy a combination of three cheeses – soft and mild (brie, camembert, fresh mozzarella, burrata or even cream cheese), crumbly stinky cheese (Danish blue, gorgonzola etc.), and a hard, full bodied cheese (cheddar, gouda, edam etc.)
Most supermarkets will allow you to taste the cheeses before you buy. I’ve also noticed that some flavored cheese can be cheaper to buy than the unflavored ones, possibly because they are slightly more processed. Ask the cheese guy for bargains on any leftover wedges or small pieces that they are hoping to sell quickly.
The prices in the fresh cheese section versus the frozen foods or cold storage section will also vary greatly. I’ve always found great deals on more expensive cheeses such as the Danish Blue (a mild variety of blue cheese) and Brie in the frozen foods section vs. the cheese counter. These will be packaged and imported but still taste amazing.
I’m more of a pile-it-on kind of person so I prefer keeping whole blocks of cheeses on the board rather than cutting them and arranging. I also think it looks prettier. Offer your guests cheese knives (if you have them) or smaller knives to cut through the cheeses.
While arranging the cheeses, it’s best to arrange them so that there’s ample space between them. This helps so that people can rotate the platter to pick what they want rather than struggling to cut a cheese and mixing it with another one.
Step #3: Add Charcuterie (Cold Cuts) and Nuts
Charcuterie or cold cuts can also get really expensive when putting together a cheese board. I like sticking with only one variety and arranging it in two different parts of the board to give the impression that there are two options. When it comes to choosing, salami is the most affordable and you can ask the butcher to cut it in really thin slices. Pre-cut meats can also work out to be cheaper sometimes. I also look for deals on these at the butcher section in the supermarket.
Nuts can really help fill up the spaces, and after their fill of cheese, crackers and salami, your guests will love snacking on the nuts and shelling the pistachios. It’s one of those activities that’s lazy and fun. There is no right or wrong – just rummage through your pantry, and take out any kind of nut you might have – salted, plain – everything goes.
Step #4: Add salty nibbles from your fridge/pantry
At this point, your board looks about half way full. It’s time to go through your fridge and see what may be hiding there. Most people have unfinished jars or olives, pickles, stuffed peppers of some kinds etc. Just dump these in small, pretty looking bowls and arrange them on the cheese board. They don’t need to be the best quality but these salty nibbles keep people snacking and add to the variety. Plus, you are not spending on things and using things that you might have forgotten about.
Quick tip: I also strain greek yogurt whisked with a pinch of salt overnight and use it to make labneh balls which are then stored in olive oil. It’s a cheap, easy option to add another variety of cheese to your wine and cheese board.
Step #5: Add sweet things and fruits
In my opinion, fruits are an absolute must for a cheese board. Every single time I’m done with all the cheeses at a party, I reach out for the fruits and they are so refreshing. You are going to welcome the sweetness and the balance. To keep things affordable, pick fruits that are already in season so that you get them cheap. Stay away from imported, exotic fruits which can become expensive and may not even have as much flavor. I loved adding strawberries and grapes to my cheese board because the markets are full of them. Two different varieties of grapes also add more color to the board. Cut them in half or keep them whole. Let people just pick them up with their hands to eat.
Quick Tip: Make sure you wash and pat your fruits dry so that they don’t leave stains or become soggy.
Step #6: Add crackers and breads to scoop things up
Believe me, you don’t need to spend a lot on this section. I picked the cheapest crackers I could find – Cream Crackers which are really mild flavored crackers. I also bought some breadsticks from a bakery around the corner and a loaf of seeded multigrain bread. The bread was toasted on a pan with a little olive oil. Instead of spending a lot of money on fancy herb crackers, still to mildly flavored and locally available crackers or breads. If they have an overpowering flavor of their own, they are going to compete with the cheese and other ingredients on the board.
Step #7: Choose your Wine to go with the Cheese
This can either be Step #1 or Step #8. I picked my cheeses first and then picked the wines to go with them. It’s always best to provide options for both red wine and white wine to your guests. With a little research, you can also recommend which wine goes with what. We picked a variety of wines from Big Banyan – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and their dessert wine – Bellissima.
The Merlot is a dry, medium bodied wine with practically goes with everything, except fish and leafy green vegetables. It’s important to have a wine like that in your list so that it’s a choice that anyone can opt for.
The Cabernet Sauvignon is another red which has hints of eucalyptus, fruit and oak. It’s a full bodied, dry wine that goes really well with strong pungent cheeses like the Danish Blue
The Chardonnay is a white which has fruity tropical aromas and hints of hazelnut and crème brulee. It works really well with soft, mild cheeses like brie or goats cheese. It’s also pairs well with fruits, nuts and smoked cheeses
The Bellissima is a dessert wine which has fruity fragrances of apricots and pears in full bloom. It has a soft, smooth finish and feels velvety on the first sip. The sweetness of the wine pairs well with the salty tartness of the cheese. If you’ve got a blue cheese, or something pungent make sure you have the Bellissima ready
If you’ve actually made it this far, I’d say you are more than ready to build your own Ultimate Wine and Cheese Board on a budget. You really don’t need expensive ingredients to make the most amazing cheese platter. All you need is a little creativity, a lot of fun and some good wines to make everyone go wow! If you use my tips to make the ultimate cheese platter for your next party, don’t forget to take a picture and tag me (@my_foodstory) on Instagram so that we can both marvel at how easy it was!
The garlic and herb cheese has sharp and tangy flavors. When paired with the Merlot, which is a dry red wine that is medium to full-bodied, the cheese brings out notes of black cherry, plum, and black tea. The garlic and herb cheese flavors are more heavily emphasized because of the Merlot’s dry fruitiness.
Reserve or vintage cheese has robust flavors, which need a red wine that can hold up against it. Malbecs are medium to full-bodied red wines that have black fruit, anise, and herb notes. The strong flavor of the Malbec complements the vintage or reserve cheese.
Why they're the perfect pair: Cabernet Sauvignon is high in tannin – the substance that leaves a chalky sensation on your teeth and dyes your mouth dark after drinking. The fat in a steak stands up to tannins and softens their impact, and the meat's bold flavor matches the big, fruity flavor of the wine.
Similar combinations to try: Red meat and red wine are a classic combination. Grilled steak would be delicious with an American red Zinfandel or a tannic or soft Merlot, while a pan-fried steak pairs well with fruitier reds like Australian Shiraz or a California, Oregon or Washington Merlot.
Why they're a perfect pair: Muscadet, which is made in western France and along the Atlantic coast, heightens the oysters' fresh flavor with its acidity.
Similar pairings to try: Mussels, clams, oysters and white fish like trout or skate are also delicious with lightly oaked Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.
Spaghetti and Meatballs and Chianti
Why they're a perfect pair: Chianti has a bold, fruity flavor with enough acidity to stand up to the tomatoes and meat.
Similar pairings to try: Spanish Rioja also pairs well with tomato-based sauces. Parmesan cheese goes well with Chianti.
Spicy Indian Takeout and Riesling
Why they're a perfect pair: Slightly sweet, low alcohol wines like German, Australian or New York Rieslings give the palate some relief from a spicy meal. A highly alcoholic wine would make you feel the burn.
Similar pairings: Spicy Asian food or highly spiced Mexican dishes like enchiladas also pair well with Riesling. A dry Gewurztraminer also pairs well with heart-pumping cuisine like Thai or Indian.
Why they're a perfect pair: While fish typically pairs better with white wine, salmon's flavor will stand up to the bold but not too tannic flavor of Pinot Noir. Consider regional pairings – salmon harvested in from Pacific Northwest pairs well with the Pinots from that area.
Similar pairings to try: Pinot Noir also pairs well with other fatty fishes like tuna, especially when it's served rare or raw.
Why they're a perfect pair: The contrast! The salty cheese and the sweet wine contrast beautifully, but both are aged long enough to develop a similar earthy, tawny flavor.
Similar pairings to try: Serve sweet wines like port, sherry and Madeira with salty and/or strong cheeses such as Roquefort, Stilton and other blue or pungent cheeses.
Why they're a perfect pair: Because of the gamey flavor, lamb shines with a wine that has a rich, bold personality to stand up to it. Bordeaux is bold and fruity, and the fatty richness of the meat helps absorb some of the wine's tannins.
Similar pairings: Pair aromatic wines with bold flavors and maybe even some smokiness to pair with lamb or other game, such as venison.