How to Make an Amazing Cheese Board in No Time at All
With great wine comes great share plate potential, and you can’t go wrong with a classic cheese board or platter. Not only do cheese and deli meats pair incredibly well with wine, but a stunning spread can be crafted in minutes to satisfy a room full of hungry revellers.
Here are a few tips and tricks to create a quick-and-easy cheese board and lift your hosting game to the next level.
Selecting the Food
Assuming that you already have a serving board and checked on the dietary requirements of your guests, you’re going to want to visit your local deli and follow the rule of threes. That is three types of cheese, three types of meat and three types of crackers to form the backbone of a deliciously balanced spread.
Cheese typically falls into one of four categories: Cheddar, Washed rind, Blue mould and Soft cheese; For meats, they are available fresh like ham and thinly sliced roast beef, or cured, like salami, chorizo and prosciutto. Mix and match the different types, catering to your tastes or ask for a recommendation if you’re feeling adventurous.
When selecting the crackers, it’s best to go for three of the plainer varieties, so that they won’t overpower the cheeses and meats.
Then, pick up some apples or pears, nuts and one or two garnishes. You can’t go wrong with things like cornichons, pickles and olives. Consider mustards, compote or aioli as condiments. Also, dips like hummus, baba ghanoush and tzatziki will complement the meats and cheeses.
Serving the Food
Start by slicing the produce into bite-sized morsels allowing friends or guests to move around freely and mingle while taking care of their appetite. Make sure cheese is accompanied by the correct utensils.
By arranging the produce in an eye-catching and practical manner, your cheese board or platter can become a true feast for the senses.
Take the crackers, cheeses and meats and spread them evenly around the centre of your board or platter, leaving enough space for dips and condiments. Work outwards from the centre, and arrange the produce so that no two types of meat, cheese or crackers are touching. Fill any gaps with the sliced fruit and scatter the nuts. Garnish lightly over the top or in any remaining gaps.
- Cheese tastes better at room temperature, so remove it from the fridge or cold storage 1-2 hours before serving.
- Hard cheeses like Parmesan, Cheddar, Gouda and Swiss can only be left out for two hours before they should be returned to the fridge
- Soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert and Ricotta should be tossed out after two hours on the platter to avoid the risk of bacterial growth
Tools of the Trade
There’s a correct tool (or utensil) for cutting and slicing each type of cheese. A Coure knife is short and sharp. It’s perfect for cutting hard cheeses like Aged Cheddar and Parmigiano. A cheese fork is best for breaking hard or aged cheeses into smaller pieces and to hold a block while cutting.
A Campana knife is the flat, rounded one that almost resembles a trowel. It’s the ideal utensil for cutting crumbly, soft cheese like Feta and Swiss. A Plane knife is suited for cutting both semi-hard and semi-soft cheeses like Cheddar, while a slicer is ideal for shaving consistent even slices of harder cheeses like Gouda.
The wine is arguably the most important part of any party, but we’re biased. There’s a wine match for every meat and cheese. Explore your options and remember to look for wines that highlight the qualities of the produce without overpowering it.
Cheddar – The fruit power of big reds will match the weight of these cheeses, while tannins cut through the fat. Pair Cheddar with a Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo or Rosé.
Washed Rind – Look for something with fresh acidity to complement these light and creamy cheeses. Sparkling wine is ideal. Also, full, yet juicy reds like Barbera are great for that savoury balance.
Soft Cheeses – are low in acidity and high in cream, so balance is key. Go for a softer wine like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Rosé.
Blue Mould Cheese – The strong, spicy flavours and creamy nuances of blue cheese lend well to full, sweet wines. So pair a blue cheese with a Muscat, Tokay, a Rosé or a Botrytis wine.
Salami – Choose a juicy red for a perfectly-balanced partner for salami from mild to spicy. Go for a Pinot Noir, Nero d’Avola, Grenache or the GSM blends.
Jamón and Prosciutto – Go for a middle ground red like Sangiovese, Tempranillo or Grenache.
Chorizo – Robust, full-bodied reds are a classic match for the spicy, pork-based sausages. So go with a Malbec, Cabernet or Tempranillo.
Now that you’ve taken care of the cheese board, you’re free to get on with the good stuff, like lively conversation, enjoying the music and, of course, sipping great wine!
Be sure to check out our other great food and wine pairing guides!