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Learn how to arrange an easy cheese plate that's perfect for entertaining, especially when paired with your favorite wine!
I'm so excited today, because I'm talking about two of my favorite things ... wine and cheese! Does it get any better?
I grew up in Wisconsin and spent years living in California, so you can probably understand my love of cheese and wine! There isn't much that makes me happier than relaxing with friends while enjoying a beautiful cheese plate and a bottle of wine. It's such an easy and elegant way to entertain.
But with all the choices out there, pairing wine and cheese can sometimes be a little overwhelming or intimidating.
It definitely doesn't have to be though. I'm breaking it down step by step and showing you how to arrange an easy cheese plate, plus a fun and simple way to select the right wines.
Once you know how to arrange an easy cheese plate, you'll want one for every party! It's my go to entertaining secret, because it's such a crowd pleaser.
And of course, you'll need a great bottle of wine or two to go with your cheese. Confession time ... have you ever gone wine shopping and been totally lost? Even if you narrow it down to one varietal there are so many options.
How do you choose the perfect bottle when you're in the wine aisle? Wines vary in style, region, and taste, yet most labels don't define the wonderful flavors you're about to taste. Selecting a bottle can be kind of a mystery, right?
I think we've all been there! Wine tasting is supposed to be fun though, and that's one of the reasons I love Notable wines.
Notable makes it easy to pick the perfect bottle. It's the first and only wine that highlights the flavor profiles right on the front of the bottle which helps make the wine aisle a much less confusing place. By elegantly showcasing its taste prominently on the front of the label, Notable leads you to the wine you want ... just follow the flavor notes!
Notable produces two distinct chardonnays, making these wines the perfect choice for a wine tasting comparison! Notable: California Chardonnay features notes of butter, oak, and vanilla, while Notable: Australia Chardonnay has citrus, melon, and peach notes.
Both of these wines pair wonderfully with cheese, so keep reading after my cheese plate tutorial, because I'm sharing tips for doing a blind Chardonnay wine tasting. Doesn't that sound fun?
How to Arrange an Easy Cheese Plate
Before we get to that wine tasting, we need some delicious cheese to pair it with. A gorgeous cheese platter is perfect for entertaining, and I'm going to show you how to arrange an easy cheese plate step by step.
You'll start with the cheese, of course! When selecting cheese, think in terms of contrasting textures (hard vs. soft) and flavors (mild vs. pungent). Bonus points if you take the type of milk (cow, sheep, or goat) used to produce the cheese into consideration! A cheese plate with a good mix of textures and flavors will be the most enjoyable.
There's no need to go overboard when selecting cheese. I generally choose three, and then sometimes add a bonus cheese or two:
- Soft - A soft, spreadable cheese is a crowd pleaser. Pretty much everyone loves Brie (which is what I used), but feel free to select something a little more unexpected, like Camembert or Mont d'Or.
- Aged - A firm, aged cheese, like Cheddar or Gouda, will add depth to your cheese plate. This is a good place to include a cheese you know everyone will enjoy.
- Smelly / Blue - A funky blue cheese will add a little excitement to your cheese plate. There are so many varieties, ranging from classic Stilton to rich Saint Agur. I included a wonderful Gorgonzola on my plate.
- Bonus - Have fun selecting another cheese you love or something random you can't wait to try! I added a fresh goat cheese to my tray, but I'd certainly never turn down a Humboldt Fog or Mimolette!
If you're completely overwhelmed, don't be afraid to stop by your local cheese shop or the counter at a better grocery store. The people who work there can point you in the right direction ... plus, you can try samples!
Just how much cheese do you need per person? It depends on whether cheese is the main appetizer, or if you'll be serving it with other food.
If you're serving other snacks or appetizers, plan on 3 to 4 ounces (about ¼-pound) per person. For a dinner or lunch time party with cheese as the main focus, you could double that. Keep in mind that milder cheeses like Brie will generally go faster than more pungent cheeses. So you may want to buy more of the milder cheese. And of course, it never hurts to buy extra cheese if you're unsure!
Space the cheese evenly around your serving platter. I used a pretty cutting board to keep things casual, yet still elegant. Slice or crumble a bit of each cheese (depending on it's texture). That way your guests won't be hesitant to dig in. Add a separate knife for each cheese to the tray, too.
After you've arranged the cheese, you'll need something to serve it on. I prefer a combination of crispy crackers and soft bread (like a sliced baguette), although toasted bread is good, too. Arrange the bread and crackers in between your cheeses so it's within easy reach. Try my homemade Herb Parmesan Crackers ... they're delish!
If you want to keep your cheese plate simple, you can stop here. Trust me, everyone will be very happy!
What Do You Put on a Cheese Platter?
Now that you have the cheese and crackers, what else should you put on your cheese platter?
I like to include a variety of textures (crunchy, chewy, juicy, etc.) and flavors (sharp, mild, sweet, savory, etc.) on my cheese platters. Think in terms of what will complement the cheese.
One thing I always include is nuts. I found some rosemary roasted Marcona almonds, and they were a delicious addition to my tray. Walnut, pecans, pistachios, and other nuts would be wonderful, too ... add your fave.
Place the nuts right on your serving tray or in a small bowl so they won't scatter.
Dried fruit or a fruit spread is another thing I always include on my cheese trays. The concentrated sweetness from the fruit is a natural complement to the salty cheese.
Fresh figs are my favorite, but dried apricots or apples (or whatever you prefer) will work, too.
As you add these additional components, place them between the cheese and crackers to fill out your tray.
Of course, fresh fruit is always delicious, too. It's a great counterpoint to the heavier cheese.
Try adding grapes, sliced apples, or pears ... yum!
Are you an olive lover? Then, don't forget to include a dish of olives on your cheese tray!
I had kalamata olives on hand, but any marinated olive will work.
My olives were already pitted, but if yours aren't make sure to include an extra dish for pits.
Another thing I love to include on a cheese tray, especially if I'm serving it in the evening, is a bit of dark chocolate.
A square or two of chocolate is a luxurious, yet simple finishing touch on any cheese tray ... plus, it's a little unexpected!
Doesn't this cheese platter look gorgeous? I want to dig in!
Creating a beautiful cheese platter really doesn't have to be difficult. I hope these tips inspired you to learn how to arrange an easy cheese plate.
Keep in mind that you don't need to include everything that I did for a great spread. A simple combination of cheese and crackers, and maybe one extra component, will be just as delicious.
Of course, now that you know how to arrange an easy cheese plate, you can't forget about the wine to pair with it!
How to Create a Blind Chardonnay Wine Tasting
Chardonnay is one of my favorite wines, and it pairs great with cheese. With National Chardonnay Day coming up on May 21, I though it would be fun to do a blind Chardonnay wine tasting!
With their two distinct flavor profiles, Notable California and Notable Australia are the perfect choice for your tasting.
All you need for your blind Chardonnay wine tasting is a piece or two of scrapbook paper, a little tape, and some number stickers.
Make a note of which wine is which (the neck wrappers are different colors, which is helpful), as well as the flavor profiles of each.
Then, cut a strip of scrapbook paper wide enough to cover the label and tape it in place. I used a pretty floral paper and a bit of gold washi tape.
Add a number sticker to the front of each bottle, or simply write a number on the scrapbook paper.
Once you've covered up the labels, let the tasting commence!
Read more about how to host a Blind Wine Tasting here. I'm sharing tons of tasting tips, plus some free printables (bottle labels, party invites, and wine tasting score cards) to help you throw the ultimate wine tasting party.
Remember, this is all for fun, so don't take it too seriously. Everyone has different preferences (and both wines are delicious), so there really are no wrong answers.
You are sure to have a laugh or two as everyone starts talking in wine speak!
Let me know if you create your own cheese plate for your next party.
I'd love to see how it turns out!
Now that you know how to arrange an easy cheese plate, stop by your local store to pick up Notable wine. Make sure to get both Notable: California Chardonnay and Notable: Australia Chardonnay so you can do a blind Chardonnay wine tasting, too!
What is your favorite wine and cheese pairing?