how to make the perfect cheese platter

Cheese 101: How To Make The Perfect Cheese Platter

I can't tell you how many Cheese Platters we do in a year at Nadine Hughes Catering - it's more than 100 and less than 1,000.  I've created them on boards, platters, boxes, tables, indoors, outdoors, small two-person platters, and 24 foot long sharing ones and even cheese wedding cakes!

Not only are cheese platters ideal because they require no cooking but they are also a stunning visual addition to any party.  Creating the perfect cheese platter is a lesson in shapes, textures and colour.  Follow these simple steps and you’ll be sure to please your guests! 

  • Select a variety of shapes and colours – three kinds of cheese per platter is ideal
  • Allow about 20-30 grams per cheese per person
  • Provide one cheese knife for each cheese to avoid mixing the flavours
  • Avoid highly salted or flavoured crackers and breads that will overpower or compete with the flavours of the cheeses
  • Cheese should be served at room temperature to develop full flavour so remove it from the fridge up to two hours before serving.  Keep it covered with a slightly damp cloth or plastic wrap.
  • Choose complementary partners such as sourdough with Vintage Cheddar or fruit cheese; fruit or nut bread with Brie or Camembert; crusty baguette with blue vein or fresh curd cheese
  • Add fresh fruit, dried fruit and different jams and jellies to compliment the richness of the cheese
  • Go to a cheese shop and ask which cheeses are ready to serve – ask to taste before buying! 

Want to Know More About Your Cheeses?

White Mould Cheese:

  • Types:  Brie, Camembert, Double Brie, Trip Cream Cheese (also known as White Rind Cheese)
  • Characteristics: Develops buttery, flowing centre and ‘mushroomy’ aroma with age
  • Partner Wine: Chardonnay, sparkling, full-bodied dry reds, fortified wines

 Fresh Unripened Cheese

  • Types:  Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Ricotta, Mascarpone, Feta, Fresh Curd, Quark, Fromage Blanc
  • Characteristics: Delicate milky flavour with soft, moist, spongy body
  • Partner Wine: Sparkling, aromatic whites, medium-bodied reds, dessert wines

 Stretched Curd Cheese

  • Types - Fresh:  Bocconcini, Treccia, Fior de Latte
  • Types – Matured: Mozzarella, Provolone, Pizza Cheese
  • Characteristics: Fresh types are moist and delicate in flavour while matured types are prized for their ‘stretch’ when cooked.
  • Partner Wine: Sparkling, aromatic whites, medium-bodied reds.

 Blue Cheese

  • Types:  Made in classic styles (eg. Danish Blue, Gorgonzola) but sold by brand name
  • Characteristics: Soft cheese with veins of blue mould. Strong, tangy flavour with a salty finish.
  • Partner Wine: Dessert wines, fortified wines, aromatic/fruity whites with a sweet finish.

 Washed Rind Cheese

  • Types:  Semi-soft Washed Rind, Wine Washed Rind
  • Characteristics: Soft cheese that has been ‘washed’ during ageing to develop flavour. Sweet tasting with a pungent aroma.        
  • Partner Wine: Dessert wines, fortified wines, medium-bodied reds, sparkling reds. Also good with beer.

 Hard Cheese

  • Types:  Parmesan, Pecorino, Romano, Pepato
  • Characteristics: Sharp, robust flavour with a piquant finish and grainy finish.
  • Partner Wine:   Full-bodied dry whites, full-bodied dry reds, fortified wines.  Sparkling wines also make a great match as the acidity contrasts well with the texture of the cheese.

Cheddar and Cheddar Styles

  • Types:  Mild Cheddar (aged 3 months), Matured/Tasty (aged 3-12 months), Vintage (aged over 12 months), Processed, Colby, Red Leicester, Cheshire, Lancaster.
  • Characteristics: Semi-hard cheese with flavours varying from bland and butter (mild) to the sharp bite of Vintage.
  • Partner Wine:  Full-bodied whites, full-bodied reds, dessert wines, fortified wines.

 Eye Cheese

  • Types:  Edam, Emmenthal, Fontina, Gouda, Gruyere, Havarti, Swiss-style, Raclette, Tilsit
  • Characteristics: Cheese with ‘eyes’ or holes that are produced by carbon dioxide.  Slightly sweet, subtle piquant flavour.
  • Partner Wine:  Full-bodied dry whites, medium-bodied reds, dessert wines, fortified wines. 

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