Arguably one of the highlights of hosting, the humble cheese board can help bring everyone together to explore new tastes. Suitable for casual nights with a festive film or the last course of the ultimate festive dinner party, a cheeseboard is an easy and delicious way to impress your guests.
We’ve pulled together the best cheeseboard ideas into one easy guide to help you get through creating your own stress-free, and help you choose the best cheese and wine for a cheese board.
What are the best cheeses for a cheeseboard?
There’s a rule of three to remember when building a cheeseboard – include at least one hard, one soft, and one blue cheese. But which of those cheeses you choose is up to you.
Here are a few kinds of cheese for cheeseboard ideas.
The hard cheeses
Hard cheeses can come in various textures – rubbery, crumbly, chewy, and dense. They’re included on cheeseboards to provide something for your guests to sink their teeth into, but they can also act as little, edible plates for other items on the board.
Hard cheeses are dry and develop strong flavours and aromas as they age, with popular hard cheese options for a cheeseboard including Parmesan, Gouda, Cheddar and Gruyere.
The soft cheeses
Soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Mozzarella and Burrata go down a treat on a cheeseboard.
Typically mild in flavour, with creamy, oozy textures, this type of cheese lets guests play around with other flavours on the board and party nibbles. Spreadable on crackers or bread and perfectly paired with nuts and chutneys, the moreish possibilities are endless.
The blue cheeses
They may not be everyone’s favourite, but one guest always loves blue cheese.
Tangy, funky, and sharp – all valid ways of describing blue cheeses such as Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Danablu, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious. Blue cheeses can come in various textures, from creamy to crumbly, and pair well with honey and dried fruits.
Can I add any other cheeses?
The short answer is: sure!
When it comes to cheeseboards, it’s the more, the merrier. But remember – it’s important to have a variety of flavours and textures on your cheeseboard to make sure there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Cheeseboard ideas – the finishing touches
A cheese board isn’t just about the cheese – it’s also about the delicious extras.
Crackers and toasted baguette slices add a satisfying crunch. Seasoned crisps, such as lightly salted or any with spices like paprika, black pepper or chilli powder, can do the same, but with an added kick to the crunch.
But don’t forget about the sweet stuff. Fruits such as grapes and blackberries to dried apricots and figs can add bursts of sweetness to complement the tangier cheeses. Honey is also a popular addition, usually drizzled over the softer cheeses, but a chunk of Parmesan can be dunked in it, too, for a more complex mouthful.
Those with savoury tastes might enjoy sprinkles of herbs, such as thyme, fennel, lavender or oregano, over their cheeses, creating more earthy, rounded mouthfuls. The acid in chutneys, olives and pickles can have the same effect, cutting through the fattiness of creamier cheeses.
Cheeseboard ideas – serving suggestions
The answer’s in the name. Serve your cheese on a board, though a slate or platter is a perfect alternative. Ideally, you want to serve up your selection on something large and flat, with plenty of extra room for finishing touches.
Before plating up, any cheeses usually at home in the fridge should be taken out half an hour beforehand so they can be at the perfect eating temperature for your guests’ arrival.
A cheeseboard is the centrepiece of any party table, so make sure it looks as amazing as it tastes. Splitting your cheeseboard into three and having a section dedicated to each of the three cheese types will make it easier for your guests to find what they like.
Fill in the gaps between your cheeses in each section with the finishing touches that suit those cheeses best – think juicy fruits with the blue cheeses, honey and jams with the hard cheeses, and nuts and herby crackers with the soft cheeses.
Soft and blue cheeses should be left whole or in larger chunks to avoid oozing everywhere, while hard cheeses could have pieces cut off ahead of time to make it easier for your guests to enjoy.
What’s the best wine to serve with a cheeseboard?
The great thing about cheese is that it comes in various flavours and aromas – just like wine! The even greater news is that you can serve red and white wine with a cheeseboard.
Pairing red wine with cheese comes down to a simple rule: heavy with heavy, light with light.
This means you’ll want to serve full-bodied, richer reds with the harder, more robust cheeses, such as Gouda with a bold red like a Shiraz. Softer, lighter cheeses suit lighter, fruitier reds, such as goat’s cheese paired with a more delicate Cabernet Sauvignon.
By pairing them like this, you won’t run the risk of them overpowering each other.
White wine and cheese make sense, right?
Drier, lighter white wines such as Chardonnay best suit milder, softer cheeses such as Mozzarella, taking on its buttery flavours while also cutting through the fattiness at the same time. However, if a Chardonnay is aged heavily in oak barrels, you could even serve it with a hard cheese like aged Cheddar.
Another variety of white wine that pairs well with cheese is Semillon. A less popular variety that creates sweet, dry wines, its medium body and low tannin wine pairs perfectly with cheeses like Manchego, Camembert and Double Gloucester – all with big flavours and creamy textures.