Looking for an excuse to sip wine and feast on Gruyere? Follow these guidelines next time you are planning a cheese course for your party.
choosing the cheese.
- Plan on serving from three to five cheeses. Anything additional is overwhelming to the palate. For each type of cheese, buy one ounce per person.
- Aim for variety in taste, texture and appearance. An interesting selection might include a soft, mild cheese like a Camembert, a sharp nutty cheese such as Parmigiano- Reggiano, a blue like Gorgonzola, a pungent (a.k.a. stinky) cheese like Taleggio, and a semi-firm, Manchego.
- Serve with with crackers and bread that don’t have very strong flavors that would detract from the flavor of the cheeses.
- Snip a bunch of grapes into small clusters and pile them together to create easy-to-grab portions. Apples, pears or figs also pair nicely.
- In separate dishes, you might also offer olives (kalamata, Nicoise, Spanish), pickled vegetables (gherkins, artichoke hearts, peppers), and lightly roasted nuts (walnuts, macadamias, almonds).
- Offer guests a hearty snack to round out the food- a dried sausage like saucisson or sopresatta.
- As for beverages, wine is a classic accompaniment. In general, fresh cheeses pair well with Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir, blue cheeses with Sauternes and Port, and aged cheeses with Zinfandel or Burgundy.
- Serve the cheeses on a tray or platter that is large enough to keep them from touching and has a contrasting background color.
- Remove the wrapping from the cheeses, but leave on the rinds.
- Serve each cheese with its own knife to avoid mixing flavors.
- Bring cheeses to room temperature for optimal flavor – take out of the refrigerator up to two hours before serving.
- Identify the cheeses. Note each variety.