It’s true: The easiest, tastiest way to host your friends and family for the holidays is with a fantastic cheese spread. Whether you’re a cheese newbie or a fromage fanatic, this season’s latest and greatest party cheeses will help you plan your most delicious gathering. So sit back, let your mind drift to the gooey, the crumbly, the yummiest cheeses of the season.
Getting started: A great party spread has up to 6 cheeses of all different styles and milk types. We suggest delighting your guests with a mix of buttery, grassy, pungent or caramelly tastes.
More than just cheese: When picking accompaniments, from wine to nuts, pick a pairing principle:
- Choose items that are complementary – pair similar flavors together, like a flavorful cheddar with a bold wine;
- That old adage is true with cheese, too: opposites attract. Don’t be shy about mixing sweet with salty;
- What grows together goes together – you can’t go wrong with cheese and pairings from the same neck of the woods.
Not sure how much to buy? Our rule of thumb is 1-2 oz per cheese, per person for a party or an appetizer spread before dinner. (most of our assortments serve up to10)
Serving Sense: Cheese tastes better at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge one hour before serving. For a party, set out on a board with one knife per cheese – start cutting into each piece to get it started, then let your guests go to town.
Sommelier for a day: Want to impress by pairing cheese with wine or beer like an expert? Click here to view our full beverage pairing guide.
Learn even more by going reading our Cheese Basics.
- New assortment for the holiday season: Cheeselovers Anonymous
Cheeselovers Anonymous (pictured above) features a complete tasting through all of the cheese styles – we couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect party package!
by Deena Siegelbaum
Want to mix up your cheese board at your next party? Here are a few tried-and-true tricks for a crowd-pleasing spread. Like the looks of what we’ve created here? This snacky board is sure to get you through the Final Four or impress your next dinner guests.
Pick a theme: The board pictured here is…you guessed it, Italian. We began with our new fave salamis and speck from Olli Salumeria, then picked Italian or Italian-style faves to complete the mix. Theme by country…like the classic Spanish manchego, quince paste and Marcona almond combo; stinky (and fabulous) French cheeses and fresh baguettes; or artisan picks from the good ol’ USA with fresh fruit or veggies from the farmers market. Whatever you choose, make sure to include a variety of styles (hard and soft cheeses) and different milk types (cow, goat, sheep).
Think of crowd-pleasing favorites, then raise the bar: Help your friends try new cheeses they’re guaranteed to love. Most people stick to old faithfuls like Parmigiano and Cheddar. Try alternatives to Parm like Piave or Stravecchio, or a superbly savory Cheddar like Bleu Mont Bandaged or Mrs. Quicke’s. Don’t play it too safe, though – mix in some new finds! Goat cheese and blue cheese are two types people think they don’t like – but I’ve found that starting with approachable cheeses like Aged Goat Gouda or creamy Black River Blue, you may just win them over.
Mix in the meat: My most recent dinner guests are still talking about the cheese and bresaola board I laid out a few weeks ago – it was so ample, we followed it with a very light dinner. The center of my wood board was piled high with bresaola and surrounded by various hard and soft cheeses, plus my favorite Marcona almonds and Spanish figs. On another board I had fresh bread and a small bowl of olive oil for dipping. We tried multiple pairings and all worked!
Throw in unexpected accompaniments: Honeys and chutneys, preserved walnuts, and pickled figs are known to get squeals at cocktail parties. Mustard goes great with salami, of course – my new favorite is My Friend’s Brown Ale Mustard (made by a cool chick in Brooklyn). Speck is traditionally served with creamy cheeses, pickled and bread that’s been lightly toasted. Play around – put it on bruschetta for your guests, or in a bread salad.
Portion “control”: Figure 1-2 ounces per person per item. Having 6 people over? Aim for 1/3-1/2 LB. of each cheese, meat and condiment, plus ample crackers or bread.