Cheese Facts to Remember During the Holiday Entertaining

CheeseWith the holidays fast rushing in, all you can think about is fun. Hosting parties and entertaining will all be a part of a merry season. If you care about making each of these a memorable one for your family, guests and yourself, having a delicious spread is a must. Not every entertaining need to be elaborate. With an array of cheese to grace your holiday table, preparing will be a breeze and the fun almost guaranteed.

So, how can you make your cheese plates more crowd-pleasing?  MartinJ of Serious Eats offers some great ideas in this blog The Best Cheeses for Holiday Entertaining. For a great start, MartinJ says:

“When you’re entertaining, you may want to rein in your preferences for the wildest, most exotic flavors in order to please large numbers of people. But that doesn’t mean being boring.”

“…Want to up the ante on your cheese plate? Pick cheeses that will complement the beverages you’re serving.”

He offers a few general guidelines:

  • Sweet beverages in general pair well with saltier, more aggressive cheeses.
  • Subtle ones require more balanced and nuanced ones from the cheese.
  • Bubbles will complement dense, rich creamy cheeses, and go particularly well with those made from goat’s milk.

For Winter Beers

What’s a winter beer like? There is really no hard and fast answer for this, but most brewmasters agree that winter or holiday beers are “cinnamon-spiced and redolent of ginger and clove, while others are piney and roasty.”

Holiday brews that are moderately on the saccharine side make a perfect pair with sheep cheeses that are firm and with some distinct, but nice saltiness. Dark winter brews that are nutty are best matches to alpine cheeses, which are dense and evocative of roasted nuts.

For Wintry Wines

Switching to reds these holidays? It is definitely easier to find a wide array of whites matching harmoniously with a lot of cheeses. Yet, when the weather starts getting nippy, reds are more preferred by visiting merrymakers. How do you solve the dilemma?

MatinJ’s tip ? “… cheeses must be chosen carefully and with an eye toward versatility. … firm sheep cheeses … are pretty safe choices for pairing with many red wines. If you’re serving Bordeaux or Rhone Valley reds, try a good quality cheddar like Cabot Clothbound, Montgomery’s Cheddar, or Keen’s.”

For Champagne

MartinJ recommends serving goat’s milk cheeses, which can wonderfully resonate the Champagne’s (or some sparkling wines’) minerality. Creamy or soft cheeses can cleanse the palate from the wines or the Champagne’s fizzy bubbles.

Serving Egg No?

This is one holiday drink that can’t go well with cheeses. This beverage is so heavy serving cheese with it would be “an overkill.”

“The 10 Commandments of Cheese Etiquette”

If you are planning to make your holiday entertaining “cheesier” this year, it would be good to brush up on your “cheese etiquette.” Niki Achitoff-Gray of Serious Eats offers these in the post 10 Common Crimes Against Cheese You Don’t Have to Commit. Achitoff-Gray writes:

“Mistreating a cheese will inevitably result in a less delicious cheese. Conversely, when you’re good to your cheese—when you show it some respect and some TLC—you can rest assured that your cheese will return the favor.”

Here are the Ten Commandments for a better holiday entertaining with cheeses:

  1. Thou shalt not serve cheese straight out of the fridge.
  2. Thou shalt not return unwrapped or partially exposed cheese to the fridge.
  3. Thou shalt not wrap cheese in plastic wrap.
  4. Thou shalt not refrigerate fresh mozzarella.
  5. Thou shalt not freeze fresh cheese.
  6. Thou shalt not deface the wedge.
  7. Thou shalt not violate the brie.
  8. Thou shalt not buy pre-gated crumbled cheese.
  9. Thou shalt not contaminate the cheese.
  10. Thou shalt not let the cheese languish.

Achitoff-Gray begs:  “So before you dismiss these commandments as snobbery, I urge you to give them a shot. You may just be surprised by how much you like being a cheese snob yourself.”

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