Crafting the perfect cheese tray: Tips for creating a beautiful cheese display, perfect accompaniments and simple wine pairing tips
What types of cheese should you use to make the perfect cheese tray? That is a great question!
About a week or so ago, my friend Julie contacted me asking for cheese suggestions for a platter that she needed to prepare for an event she was attending. I messaged her back with a selection of cheeses that I thought would be a nice variety for her to use.
The next day she texted me this picture of her beautiful cheese tray that she had prepared.
I absolutely love the way her tray turned out and just had to share her beautiful design! And it got me thinking about the elements of the perfect cheese tray.
First let’s talk about the pièce de résistance. The Cheese!
- Use a variety of different textures: soft, semi soft, firm and hard cheeses. Moist, creamy, dry, etc..
- Variety of flavors: Mild to pungent, herbs, smoked, wine soaked.
- Appearance: different shapes, sizes, colors.
- Different milk sources: Cows milk, goats milk, sheeps milk
- Temperature: Be sure to serve cheeses at room temperature for maximum flavor and texture.
- Fresh fruits: Red grapes, apple slices, pear slices, figs, berries, apricots, cherries
- Dried fruits: Cranberries, cherries, apples, figs, apricots
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts (filberts), cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, spiced nuts, sweet and spicy nuts
- Olives: Kalamata, green olives, marinated olive blends
- Meats: Salami, Prosciutto, parma ham, sliced grilled sausages, capicola
- Dried fruit compotes, fig jam, honey, panforte (Italian fruit and nut cake), nuts and honey.
- Breads and crackers: savory nut and fruit breads, french baguettes, olive oil crackers, water crackers, sesame rice crackers. Avoid overly seasoned snack crackers as they will distract from the flavors of the cheese.
Garnish: Grapes, berries, fresh herbs, flowers, banana leaves, ti leaves, tomato roses, orange roses.
Utensils: Be sure to have cheese knives for cheese wedges, spreaders for soft cheeses and forks for fondue.
And there you have it! Try not to choose too many cheeses 3-6 different cheeses are plenty.
Pairing wines with cheese: Try to choose wines and cheeses from the same region. (what grows together, goes together) Spanish cheeses with Spanish wines, Italian with Italian, etc..
Creamy higher fat cheeses, such as a triple cream brie, will pair well with a more acidic wine like Riesling. Where as a bolder or more pungent cheese will pair with a bigger bolder wine like Zinfandel. Light fresh cheeses with light fresh wines.
Pinot Noir and Dry Rose will pair with a wider variety of cheeses but it really comes down to what you like. Experiment with different cheeses and wines to find your favorite pairing.