Need some help making that ultimate cheese board for the holidays? Use this handy cheese guide for the best types of cheese to use!
There’s nothing like an epic cheese board and some good drinks to welcome guests. I like to keep my appetizers simple and a cheese board comes together quickly with no baking required. With a mix of sweet and savory elements and a variety of textures coming together, cheese boards have a little something for everyone. Time and again I come back to the same high-quality cheeses that make my cheese board a holiday favorite. I’ve found that the perfect formula for a cheese board calls for the five kinds of cheese I’ve listed below plus a smattering of fresh fruit, roasted nuts, cured meats, spreadables, crackers, and sliced bread. You can also add olives, cornichons, dried fruit and any other of your favorites to make your cheese board that much more amazing. Let’s get the festivities started with a quick and easy cheese board!
Manchego cheese hails from the La Mancha region of Spain. This is a firm sheep’s milk cheese with tangy, nutty, grassy flavors. Although the consistency is not creamy like brie, the lacy interior is high in butterfat, lending it a rich, decadent feel. Manchego has an inedible waxy herringbone rind that’s imprinted during the molding process.
Serve Manchego cheese with sweet or savory Spanish crackers, thinly sliced serrano ham, olives, Marcona almonds, walnuts, and sweet spreadables like honey, quince paste, and marmalade.
Spanish sherry pairs perfectly with the manchego cheese. You can also serve it with a fruity red Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir. I’ll offer up some nut brown ale for the beer drinkers.
Take the manchego cheese out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. Cut off the rind and slice into ½ cm triangles. Wrap leftover cheese in waxed paper or parchment paper.
Gouda is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese originating in the Netherlands. With a nutty, buttery taste infused with notes of caramel, gouda cheese is an all-around crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for holiday cheese plates. This whole milk cheese can also be made with sheep’s milk or goat’s milk and may be enriched with cream for a double cream gouda version. Young gouda has a mild flavor, and as it ages more, the flavor sharpens. It’s typically covered in a waxy coating with a red or yellow wax denoting a young gouda and a black wax identifying an aged gouda.
This Dutch cheese pairs well with good bread, fresh grapes, sliced apples, pears, and dried Turkish apricots.
Serve young, mild gouda cheese with a Pinot Grigio or Reisling and set out a deeply flavored Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay with an aged gouda. A dark rum drink or single malt scotch is never a bad drink to have around with some good quality gouda.
Take the gouda cheese out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. Cut off the wax rind and slice into wedges or cubes. Wrap leftover cheese in waxed paper or parchment paper.
Triple Cream Brie-
Any good cheese plate should include a triple cream brie. Triple cream is one of my favorites with its extra creamy and buttery flavor. To be considered a triple cream, the milk is enhanced with cream until the butterfat content of the cheese is at least 75%. The extra cream gives it a buttery core that’s hard to resist and I can vouch for that. Triple cream brie has a bloomy rind consisting of yeast and mold cultures that are totally edible and delicious so don’t cut this off!
To really enjoy the subtle creamy flavor of triple cream brie, serve it with a sliced baguette and plain crackers. It also pairs deliciously with fruits like sliced apples, grapes, and berries. I like to serve good quality honey and fig jam for an epic combo of sweet and creamy. I guarantee you’ll be in cheese nirvana when you try this lusciously rich cheese.
There’s not much better than a well-stocked cheese plate enjoyed with a good alcoholic beverage. The go-to pairing for brie is champagne, but there are many other drinks that I think work just as well. A fruity red wine like a Pinot Noir or a dry white Sauvignon Blanc are perfect additions to your party. Triple cream brie also pairs well with a stout beer, fruity pilsner or a small batch bourbon.
About an hour before company arrives, set out the triple cream brie. That gives it a chance to come to room temperature and get nice and creamy. Wrap leftover cheese in waxed paper or parchment paper.
Originating in the English village of cheddar, cheddar cheese is a well-loved hard cheese with a nutty, sharp taste. It ranges from sweet and creamy to bitter and sharp in flavor. In general, the longer the cheddar has aged, the sharper the flavor. Mild cheddar is aged for the shortest time and extra sharp the longest. You’ll see cheddar in both white and orange color. A number of cheesemakers started adding annatto to the manufacturing process for consistent color, giving the cheese an orange hue without affecting flavor. The Midwestern region of the United States is known for orange cheddar, while the East coast of the United States and European cheddar are typically white in color.
I like a sharp, white cheddar, and it pairs incredibly well with sliced apples and pears and I would add some fresh strawberries too. This is where you can go crazy with the sliced salami and pepperoni. Set out some whole wheat or sesame crackers and sliced French bread and a pile of roasted almonds.
Enjoy a good sharp cheddar with a bold Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon. Set out some English Pale Ale for the beer drinkers.
Take the cheddar cheese out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. Cut into slices or cubes. Wrap leftover cheese in waxed paper or parchment paper.
Goat cheese has a wide range of flavors from delicate and mild to pungent to grassy and sweet. Let’s start with the most widely known, the classic French chèvre. It’s a soft and spreadable cheese that’s often log-shaped and has no rind. Chèvre is sold plain or rolled in herbs, pepper, or ash, and makes a great addition to cheese plates. Blue cheese is another favorite goat cheese with a tangy, earthy taste. Aged goat cheeses are allowed to ripen for up to 12 weeks and have a firmer texture and more prominent flavor. And there’s also goat cheese with a bloomy, edible rind that’s ridiculously good.
Feel free to go crazy with goat cheese and food pairings. I like to set out halved fresh figs, bright and colorful berries, sliced pears, salami, sliced bread with olives, crackers with fig or dried cranberries, whole walnuts, bell peppers, honey, and tomato jam.
Serve a tangy goat cheese with a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir or Malbec. Set out a Hefeweizen beer or citrusy gin drink too.
Take goat cheese out of the fridge about one hour before serving. Set it out with a cheese knife for spreading. Wrap leftover cheese in plastic wrap.
Let me know what your favorite varieties of cheese are and what you love to pair them with! As always follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for all of my latest recipes.
Check out some of my favorite cheese accessories!
This post contains affiliate links.
You might like these extra cheesy recipes!
- Chicken Cheesesteak Baked Ziti
- Lemon Rosemary Goat Cheese Penne
- Baked Brie in a Sourdough Bread Bowl
- Ham and Cheese Croissants