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The Art of Cheese Pairing: A Guide to Creating the Perfect Cheeseboard

Published: December 19, 2023
Assembling the perfect cheeseboard and wine pairing is both an art and a delightful culinary adventure that combines flavors of sweet, savory, and tangy. (Image: Manos Angelakis)

Cheese plates and boards are an exquisite way to round off a meal or enliven a social gathering. The plethora of cheeses from around the globe offers a tempting opportunity to assemble a diverse array of domestic and international varieties. However, restraint is key! Opt for a balanced selection of 4 to 6 cheese types, mixing hard with semi-soft or soft cheeses, to provide a harmonious tasting experience for your guests.

The rationale for limiting the variety is twofold. Firstly, an excessive array of flavors hinders the creation of enjoyable pairings with fruits, honeycomb, preserves, or matching wines. Secondly, an overabundance of choices can overwhelm the palate, diminishing rather than enhancing the tasting experience.

(Image: Manos Angelakis)

Consider how fig jam pairs beautifully with aged smoked Gouda but clashes with Danish Blue or Stinking Bishop, a delightful British cheese. Similarly, pairing fatty Feta with aromatic herbs like rosemary or basil can result in less favorable combinations.

(Image: Manos Angelakis)

Wine and cheese form a classic and popular duo, largely due to the harmonious interaction between astringent beverages and fatty foods like cheese. Exceptional pairings include Cabernet Sauvignon with aged Cheddar or Stilton, Pinot Noir with Gruyère, and Chardonnay with Brie. A Chilean Rosé, predominantly Syrah with a touch of Grenache, complements Greek Kefalotiri splendidly. Sweet wines like Sauternes, Riesling, or Pedro Ximenez Dulce create sublime matches with Goat Cheese.

Best cheese pairings

Fruit and cheese pairings also offer a chic culinary experience, with the contrast between sweet fruits and rich cheeses highlighting the best qualities of both. Enhance these pairings with a demi-sec white wine for an exquisite combination. A well-curated cheese plate should always feature fruits like grapes, figs, apricots, or dates, along with preserves or honeycomb.

(Image: Manos Angelakis)

Personal favorites like sweet Pumpkin or Banana Breads laden with sultanas and Roquefort or Sharp Cheddar make for delightful snacks, especially during holiday seasons. Another cherished treat is ripe apricots or rehydrated dried apricots stuffed with Goat Feta Cheese or Cretan Anthotyros, a cheese similar to Ricotta Salata. In places like Manhattan, cheese enthusiasts are spoilt for choice with stores like Murray’s, Balducci’s, Zabar’s, and Gourmanoff offering extensive selections.

(Image: Manos Angelakis)

Finally, the choice of bread accompanying your cheese matters significantly. While sweet breads pair wonderfully with dry wines and robust cheeses, a classic baguette also makes a great companion. However, avoid flavored tortilla chips as they can detract from the cheese’s flavor.

This journey through cheese’s delightful world reminds us of the importance of balance and harmony in creating the perfect cheese experience.