Beginners Guide: The Perfect Holiday Cheese Board + Wine Pairings
The perfect cheese board, it’s gorgeous and filled to the edges with different soft and hard cheeses, fruits and charcuterie. What's the secret? It's time for you to show up to the holidays, friendsgiving or even for a Friday night in with your very own Instagrammable cheese + wine pairing board. It's your time to shine!
Here's the secret: it's all about the wine + cheese pairings. The board will look beautiful if you follow our step by step cheese board guide, but make sure the cheese you're buying is as delicious as the spread looks. Good cheese comes in all shapes and sizes, and pairs perfectly with all of our wines. Be sure to tag us in your cheese board posts, we want to see your spreads!
"How To Build The Ultimate Cheese Board" from William Sonoma
Each individual cheese board is unique and comes down to personal taste, dietary restrictions and choice. There are, however, general guidelines of items you can get to make your cheese board pop!
The Cheese: To start, you want to make sure you have three to four cheeses that have distinct flavor profiles. These could include sharp, creamy, nutty, or unique profiles. Sharp cheeses could include parmesan, cheddar, havarti or a sharp swiss. Some of our favorite creamy cheeses are brie, camembert and feta. Nutty cheeses include smoked aged gouda, gruyere or manchego. A more exciting flavor profile could be this BellaVitano cheese that has been rubbed and infused with freshly roasted espresso.
Once you have your cheeses you’re halfway there! This is a cheese board after all, and you have just selected the key contenders. The best cheeses are crafted from fresh, original ingredients and are made to suit a range of unique palates, so whatever you decide to pick will work perfectly.
The Cured Meats: To accompany the cheese you can choose a range of cured meats such as prosciutto, pancetta or Italian dry salami. If anybody at the party is vegetarian you can just as easily substitute any vegetarian option, such as Tofurky deli slices.
The Cheese Vehicle: Next, you need to pick the ingredients that the cheese will be served on. Pick a range of your favorite crackers, biscuits, or types of bread - it’s great to have a variety of serving options as everyone likes to have their cheeses served on something different.
Fruits, Nuts and Anything Extra: Now here’s where you pick the items that will accompany the cheese to bring some fun and variety to your plate. Honey walnuts, pistachios, grapes, strawberries, dates and a range of dried fruits are some of our favorites.Additional condiments could include toppings or vegetables that could bring some extra flavor to the board. These could include delicacies such as honey, sun-dried tomatoes, quince paste, marinated olives or artichokes. Think of these also as the decorative and exciting items that will bring your cheese board to life, making it look like an artist’s creation in the middle of your living room.
The Wine Pairings
Wine and cheese were made to be paired. The ideal cheese board experience pairs with a red wine, white wine and sparkling! Depending on the size of your tasting group, we suggest opening all three bottles of wine to taste them side by side to find your favorite pairing!
Crisp, dry white wines
Crisp, lighter-bodied white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Sparkling pair well with fresh, unripened cheeses such as mozzarella, feta and burrata. Fresh, young and soft cheeses are best paired with our McBride Sisters Collection 2019 Sauvignon Blanc produced in Marlborough, New Zealand or the Black Girl Magic Sparkling Brut from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.
Wine Buying Tip: Wines from New Zealand are produced in a cooler climate, this is one of the Southernmost wine regions in the world. The cooler climate contributes to a higher acid structure and lighter bodied wines.
Fruit forward, medium bodied white wines
White wines that are more fruit forward and medium bodied with subtle oak pair well with creamy cheeses like Brie or Camembert. We’d highly recommend our McBride Sisters Collection 2018 Chardonnay from Central Coast, California to pair with your soft, buttery cheeses.
Wine Buying Tip: The key to these wine + cheese pairings is to find moderately oaked Chardonnay. Our McBride Sisters Collection Chardonnay is produced in a winemaking style that involves subtle oak, but not enough to overpower the varietal aromas and flavors from the Chardonnay. If you are buying a heavily oaked Chardonnay, we recommend a harder/less creamy cheese.
Medium-heavy bodied, fruit forward red wines
Aged cheeses pair perfectly with the medium-heavy bodied, complex tannin structure and gorgeous fruit profile on a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. These cheeses include Cheddar, Manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano. The perfect pairing would be our McBride Sisters Collection Black Girl Magic 2018 California Merlot (a new release!) with one of these hard cheeses.
Building + Beautifying The Board
Since cheese is the main event here, we like to place our cheese down first. But if you like, you can start by laying down some flat greens (such as baby spinach) to give your cheese board additional presentation points. After the cheeses are placed in distinct areas of the board place the cured meats in between the cheeses for a clear visual contrast. Next, add the crackers and/or bread in the gaps, and then spread all the remaining ingredients out to artistically fill in all the spaces. The goal here is to make the board look abundant and beautiful while appearing visually balanced and decadent.
Other Tips & Tricks
- Taking your cheese board on a picnic? Try our SHE CAN Wines, they are easy to bring just about anywhere. They are our bottle quality wines with can convenience. We'd reccommend the SHE CAN New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or SHE CAN Island Citrus Dry Rosé Spritzer with the cheeses & meats above!
- Be sure to take your cheeses out of the refrigerator 30-45 minutes before serving, so that the cheese is just below room temperature.
- When it comes to pairing wine with cheese keep in mind that opposite flavor profiles can attract. An off-dry Riesling can pair perfectly with an Italian Parmesan, while a tart Sauvignon Blanc can be deliciously complemented by a buttery Gorgonzola.
- Taste test the wine and a slice of cheese yourself prior to serving. Your taste buds will be able to tell you if the pairing works or not.
- Keep in mind that not all wines pair well with cheese. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find out what works!
Join our Wine Club and build cheese board pairings with your shipments every quarter! Learn more about our Wine Club here.