Looking for a simple way to impress your guests at your next get-together? Offer a selection of specialty cheeses and wines!
Don’t worry – building a cheese platter doesn’t have to be an intimidating process. Here are a few quick tips to get you started.
Picking the Right Cheeses
•Select three to five cheeses that offer some variation in taste, appearance and texture.
oMost cheeses are categorized as one of these four types: aged (e.g. Extra Sharp Cheddar or Comté), soft (e.g. brie or goat cheese), firm (e.g. Parmigiano Reggiano® or Gruyère) or blue (e.g. Roquefort or Gorgonzola). For a nice variety, choose at least one from each group.
-Use this easy guideline as a memory aid: “something old, something new, something stinky, something blue”
oFor a simpler approach, you can also select cheeses based on the type of milk used to make them: cow (e.g. Emmentaler or Fontina), goat (e.g. chèvre or goat brie) or sheep (e.g. Manchego or Greek feta). This will provide a nice range of flavors on the plate.
•Remember to serve at least one familiar cheese. This will provide the perfect introduction for guests that are intimidated by things they aren’t familiar with.
•Don't be afraid to try new things! Cheese platters give you a great opportunity to try new cheeses with your friends.
Setting the Stage
Preparation is key! Follow these simple steps ahead of time so you can sit back and enjoy your cheese platter with your guests.
•Arrange the cheeses on your platter at least an hour before guests arrive so it comes to room temperature. Allowing the cheese to “breathe” before serving helps to enhance its flavor.
•A cheese course can be served on a platter, wooden cutting board or even marble tiles. Let your imagination run wild!
oMake sure your board is large enough to separate the cheeses so the flavors don’t mingle.
•Provide the appropriate spreader or knife for each cheese type. This aids in cutting/spreading and prevents the flavors of one cheese from transferring to another.
•Cut cheese into manageable bites to make serving a breeze or allow your guests to cut directly from the cheese wedge to make things more engaging.
•Serve a variety of garnishes. Fresh fruits such as grapes, sliced pears and figs and savories such as olives, roasted nuts and marinated vegetables help to bring out the full flavor of the cheeses.
•Offer a selection of artisanal breads and crackers for serving spreads and chèvres. They also add a complementary texture to firm cheeses and offer a cleansing segue between courses.
•Add a card next to each cheese denoting its country of origin, flavor profile and wine pairing. You can find these throughout our website on each cheese’s page. Just download, print, cut and fold!
•It’s best to sample cheeses beginning with the mildest and progress to the sharpest or strongest cheese. Set up your platter in this order for a smoother traffic flow.
Dressing Up Your Platter
Provide a variety of sweet and savory garnishes to complement the flavors, textures and origins of the cheeses you are serving. We recommend a selection of the following.
•Fresh fruits (grapes, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, figs, currants, pineapple wedges or thin orange slices)
•Dried fruits (cherries, cranberries, blueberries, currants, raisins, apricots, pineapple, apple slices, figs or dates)
•Nuts (toasted pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts or cashews; spiced or candied nuts)
•Jams (cherry, apricot, marmalade, strawberry, currant, fig, apple or plum)
•Fruit pastes (quince paste)
•Olives or olive tapenade
•Cornichons (small French pickles) or gherkins
•Slices or cubes of charcuterie (prosciutto, sopressata or salami)
•Fresh herbs (sprigs of thyme, oregano and rosemary)
•Dried herbs or seeds (caraway, coriander or fennel seeds)
•Edible flowers for decoration
•Artisanal breads and crackers (crostini crackers, water crackers, crusty French bread, olive or walnut bread or baguettes)
Fun Tips & Tricks
•Instead of a basic plate, try using a wooden cutting board or even marble floor tiles from a home improvement store.
•Adorn each cheese variety with a number-shaped birthday candle to show the cheese’s age. For example, use a “2” for a 2-year aged Cheddar.
•Add flags to your cheese offerings denoting each one’s nationality. Your guests will quickly tour the globe and try them all. For example, add a French flag to camembert.
•Place a card next to each cheese denoting its country of origin, flavor profile and wine pairing. You can find these throughout our website on each cheese’s page. Just download, print, cut and fold!