How to prepare the perfect cheese board + wine pairings

Although I stay away from dairy on a day-to-day basis, I love preparing cheese boards for special occasions and get-togethers. Entertaining at home can be tons of fun when yummy hors d’oeuvres and rich red wine are included–especially now that Sunday night football and Monday night Bachelor are both in full-swing. On a chilly night, nothing beats relaxing with friends and family over good food and a game of Cards Against Humanity or poker.

There is no actual cooking involved when it comes to wowing your loved ones with a Pinterest-worthy cheese board; the only skill tested here is how well you can organize various cheeses and other goodies on your favorite cutting board! A cheese platter also makes the perfect appetizer to a thoughtful home-cooked meal for your significant other on Valentine’s Day (don’t forget the chocolate-dipped strawberries and flirty lingerie). And, the leftovers are great to have on-hand for lunch during the week!

Start with:

  • A cutting board or platter (duh!)
  • Enough plates and wine glass for all your guests
  • Butter knives
  • Napkins

Cheeses: So that there is something all your guests will love, consider choosing one cheese from each of the main categories.

  • Soft: Brie, goat cheese, mozzarella
  • Semi-firm & firm: Gouda, provolone
  • Aged: Asiago, Parmigiano, white cheddar
  • Blue: Gorgonzola

Add:

  • Cold cuts: Prosciutto, salami
  • Fresh fruit: Berries, figs, olives
  • Dried fruit: Apricots, figs, prunes
  • Nuts: Cashews, marcona almonds, pistachios
  • Crackers and/or fresh bread: La Panzanella Original Mini Croccantini are my favorite crackers, but I also love honey wheat brown bread (recipe here) and traditional French baguette.
  • Spreads: Natural fruit jams, honey

Wine pairings: I am definitely a red wine type of gal! In addition to being a great way to unwind at the end of a long day, there are tons of health benefits associated with having a glass of red at dinner, including lower cholesterol, heart-healthy antioxidants, controlled blood sugar, a sharper memory, an immune system boost and levels of resveratrol that act as an antioxidant, preventing the growth of both fat and cancer cells, according to Prevention.

  • Pinot noir: Gouda, feta, Swiss
  • Cabernet sauvignon: Blue
  • Zinfandel: Blue, cheddar, feta
  • Merlot: Brie, cheddar, gorgonzola
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