Wine and cheese is one of the world’s oldest classical duos. You see them appear in literature, film, a variety of arts, and across the pages of social media. As charcuterie boards and exquisite grazing tables become more popular, it’s even more important to understand how to select the best wines for the right cheeses. And, we’ve made it easier than ever to get the know-how!
Basic Wine and Cheese Guidelines
When pairing wines and cheeses, you want to take into account their various ages, textures, and flavors. A great place to start is by matching wines and cheeses that come from the same region. This ensures that they have similar characteristics and will compliment each other nicely.
Another thing to keep in mind is the acidity level of each partner. Generally speaking, they should match. For example, creamy cheeses pair well with mellow white wines, while tangier cheeses go better with full bodied wines. The rule of thumb is: the stronger the wine, the sharper the cheese.
Fox n Company Suggestions
Here’s what I recommend to help direct your pairing:
- Hard cheeses, like Cheddar or Manchego, go well with a medium bodied wine.
- Soft cheese, like Brie or Camembert, go well with fruity wines or even a rosé.
- Blue cheeses, like Stilton or Roquefort, pair well with sweet wines. (These cheeses also go well with ports or stouts.)
- Goat cheeses compliment dry, crisp wines, but can also be lovely with a fruity red wine.
- You can also choose “Wash-Rind” cheeses to pair with a drink. However, keep in mind these cheeses are usually very pungent and may not be as delightful for the average guest. If you choose a ‘stinky cheese’, like Taleggio or Reblochon, a crisp dry white wine or even a Belgian ale are your best bet.
- You may also choose to do fondue over a charcuterie board. Remember that fondue is typically composed of a variety of cheeses, so they are harder to match. This is where taking into consideration the region of the cheeses used is important and will provide the best route for a good pairing. However, if in doubt, an aromatic white wine should be a safe selection.
Now that you have the big picture guidelines, here are some practical suggestions to get you started:
- Cabernet Sauvignon goes nicely with Camembert, Cheddar, various blue cheeses, Gouda, and Parmesan.
- Merlot pairs well with soft cheeses, Cheddar, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, or Gruyere.
- Pinot Noir is lovely with soft cheeses, especially Feta, or your more common cheeses like Monterey Jack, Muenster, or Swiss.
- Shiraz/Syrah is best with Cheddar, Gouda, or Parmesan.
- Zinfandel is great with Asiago, Feta, Goat cheese, Gouda, or Gruyere.
- Sangiovese fits with Blue Cheese, Fontina, Mozzarella, Provolone, or even Ricotta.
- Chardonnay goes smoothly with soft cheeses, Goat cheese, Gouda, Gruyere, and Parmesan.
- Pinot Gris pairs best with hard cheeses or with Mozzarella or Muenster.
- Riesling goes nicely with soft cheeses.
- Sauvignon Blanc matches hard cheeses, Feta, Goat cheese, Gruyere, or Neufchatel.
Whether you are planning a date night, a girls’ night, a fondue party, creating a menu for an event, or simply enjoying any occasion to have an elevated charcuterie board, following these recommendations will make your pairings, and your celebration, a true success!
There are more than 2,000 varieties of cheese worldwide. So, it’s no wonder that cheese is one of the most popular foods available. From charcuterie extravaganzas to the classic macaroni and cheese and beyond, cheese is full of flavorful fun.
However, most everyone has experienced the disappointment of going to grab their cheesy delight only to find it dried out or moldy. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of the best tricks and tips to help you keep all your cheesy goodness fresh as long as possible.
Cheese Storage and Handling How-To
- Cheese is a living thing and needs to breathe. So, do NOT store your precious commodity in plastic (wrap or container) or a non-porous wrapper. Instead, use butcher or wax paper. Or, you can use specially designed cheese paper.
- Pay attention to how tightly or loosely you wrap your cheese. If wrapped too tightly, it will become smelly and the flavor will take a turn for the worse. Wrapped too loosely, cheese will become hard and dry. Be like Goldilocks and find the fit that’s just right!
- Cheese sweats (who knew?). So, each time you unwrap it, get a new piece of whatever paper you’re using. This will allow for a new, perfectly breathable seal.
- Cheese does not like the cold. Avoid storing cheese in the coldest part of your fridge (which can also dry it out due to airflow). Instead, try storing it in the produce drawer where there is more humidity and the temperature is a bit warmer.
- If you have a soft cheese that came in a container with a brining liquid, it is best left in its original container. Soft cheeses are often fresher and lack added preservatives. Also, that liquid is there to help maintain freshness.
- If you are using a block or wedge of cheese, place a thin, smooth layer of butter where you make a cut. This will slow down the ripening process.
- Place a paper towel with some vinegar inside your now properly wrapped cheese. This will stave off mold and keep it from drying out.
- You can also give your cheese a light coating of olive oil. This will protect it from drying out. Also, if mold forms, it will cling to the oil versus the cheese.
There you have it, everything you need to know about how to properly store and preserve cheese so it can be enjoyed whenever you like. It’s time to share your cheese with glee. Happy cheesing!
When designing a grazing table, I like to mix things up a bit and give the taste buds a road trip full of flavors & textures. The best grazing tables offer a montage of flavors. One of the stars on your grazing table should be your choice of cheeses. From a sweet, creamy cheese to the sharp and tangy, it should always be a journey of flavors. For that added wow factor in both presentation and taste, look to offer the unexpected and unusual.
So, what are the best cheeses to buy and how should cheese be served? These are great questions and ones we get from customers all the time. Today’s blog is going to help get you some answers; before you know it, YOU will be the cheese expert and giving advice to all of your friends!
What are the best cheeses to buy?
There are over 1,800 different types of cheeses around the world – how can you possibly choose! Believe me, I understand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in front of a gorgeous cheese counter and been completely overwhelmed. If you’ve ever found yourself drooling over the cheese counter at Eataly in downtown Chicago, you will know exactly what I’m talking about!
So, let’s break it down …
First, and foremost, buy the best quality cheeses you can find. The flavors will be as they were intended, and their shelf life will be longer as well. Next, you MUST sample different types of cheese – how are you ever going to know what flavors you like if you don’t try them?
Don’t shy away from trying atypical flavors of cheese, you might just be surprised at how amazing they are. Just last weekend, I tried an Espresso Bellavitano cheese that was just spectacular. It is a unique Cheddar-Parmesan inspired Italian cow’s cheese, rubbed with fresh ground Italian roast espresso beans. Who knew cheese and coffee could go so good together?
So, think outside the box and find a great local cheese shop and get tasting – I know, it’s a rough life! A great cheese shop will also point you in the right direction of cheese pairings as well, so don’t be afraid to use that valuable resource.
How should cheese be served?
In order to enjoy the full flavor of your cheese, always serve it at room temperature. Remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit for at least an hour before you plan to serve it. You also may want to cut a few slices to start your display, but refrain from cutting the entire block or wedge of cheese. It is best when it is cut fresh.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want your cheeses to be overcrowded on your charcuterie board. There is the possibility that a stronger cheese might affect the flavor of a milder cheese. Also, if your guests are going to be slicing as they go, they will appreciate a little room to maneuver the knife.
You should consider labeling your choices as well. Your guests will appreciate knowing what they are eating, and it will save you from having to answer “What type of cheese is this?” a gazillion times during your event.
For a really gorgeous presentation, add in artisan charcuterie meats, the unusual cracker and hard crusty bread, pepper jellies, honey comb, seasonal fruits and gourmet chocolates. I always serve these displays on one of my handcrafted charcuterie boards as it adds another element of delight to the senses.
Now that your charcuterie board is arranged, take a little time to sit back and relax a bit. Let the flavors work their magic – cheese is a living, breathing edible delight. Bon Appétit!
This spring I had the privilege of showcasing one of our grazing tables for a styled intimate wedding photo shoot, organized by Elements Preserved. If you’ve never heard of Elements Preserved, you MUST check them out. They are an amazing source for vintage and specialty rentals. They also have a luxury event space perfect for intimate weddings, private parties and other special events. The owner, Beth Boelter, had this to say about our Fox n Company Grazing Tables!
“One of the absolute highlights of the day was the live-edge charcuterie board, balanced on two of our whiskey barrels, filled with the most delicious and delightful spread of catering goodness, provided by Wanda Fox of Fox n Company.
Specializing in catering for the grazing table, where all the delightful cheese, fruit spread, honey, nuts, chocolate, breads, and fresh fruits can be found, the grazing table has become the new alternative to the traditional canapé option; they’re inviting, sociable, and they fit any reception format! Together with our whiskey barrels, the attractive displays kept our guests coming back for more of the various cheeses displayed in such beautiful ways, including a small wedding cake!
We highly recommend the grazing table as an alternative to the traditional sit-down dinner, especially for an intimate cocktail style event, an elopement wedding reception, or even a morning birthday brunch. The grazing table is really a very simple concept of what we often find ourselves doing at our backyard picnics, but in a very beautiful way. Whether used for sweet or savory sharing boards, it’s ideal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and everything in between.”
This event was truly enjoyable, and our grazing table was certainly one of the highlights. I can’t tell you how many people commented on how beautiful everything was. Even better, how FUN it was grazing delightful food while mingling, chatting and taking photos.
Creating Your Own Grazing Table
We would love to be a part of your special day! One of the beauties of the grazing table is that it can be customized to fit YOUR style and taste. Is there a special cheese you want to try? Would you like a cheese inspired wedding cake? Are macaroons your thing? What about truffles? We will work with you to make sure your grazing table fits your unique style and budget. All you need to do is provide the venue and we will take care of the rest! Let’s plan your grazing table.