How about some wine to go with that cheese? Here are our recommendations.

Blue cheese with apple butter and white wine
Blue cheese with apple butter and white wine | Photo by Meredith

The Cheese Plate

Choosing cheeses for a tasting platter is a great opportunity to explore varied textures, ages, or milk types. But like most pleasures in life, you should set limits. Three different varieties are more than enough and more than five gets confusing. After all, taste is what you're after.

Choose one spectacular cheese:

  • Serve Pierre Robert, a French triple-crème brie, with salty nuts and champagne.
  • Try Stilton, the great English farmhouse blue, with port, an inky Shiraz, or a Muscat.
  • Serve Montgomery's Cheddar with chutney and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Choose by country of origin (we chose Spain as an example):

  • Manchego (aged sheep). Pour a Rioja from Spain or a Washington Merlot.
  • Cabrales (Sheep, goat, and cow; creamy blue). Serve with sherry, dry or sweet.
  • Garrotxa (aged goat). Try with a Riesling or Spanish red from Ribera del Duero.

Choose different milks:

  • Humboldt Fog (Goat). Pair with Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre, for example) or California Chardonnay.
  • Pecorino Toscano (Sheep). Excellent with a Tuscan red like Chianti Classico or Brunello di Montalcino.
  • Bleu des Causses (Cow). Fine with a tawny port or oloroso sherry.
  • Mozzarella di Bufala (Buffalo). Pour a Chianti.
wo cheese and red wine
Photo by Meredith

Choose one milk type, different processes:

  • Provolone (Pasta filata or stretched cheese). Serve with Chardonnay or Italian reds.
  • Gruyere (Hard cheese). Pour Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.
  • Brick (Semi-hard cheese.) Nice with a white wine like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Gris.
  • Brie (Soft-ripened cheese). Surprise guests with sparkling wine or an oloroso sherry.
  • Talleggio (Washed rind, semi-soft cheese). You can't go wrong with an Italian red wine.

Choose by season:

Three early summer cheeses, three different milks:

  • Fresh mozzarella (cow): Great with a Chianti or other Sangiovese-based wine.
  • Fresh chevre (goat). Wonderful with Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Pecorino fresco (sheep). Pour Chianti Classico or Brunello di Montalcino.

Serving Suggestions

  • To start or end a meal: plan on about 2 total ounces per person.
  • As a main course: plan on 4 ounces per person. You might want to adjust amounts according to how many other accompaniments you plan to serve.
  • Take cheese out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving. Present it on a flat surface--a board, slate, or a lovely tile will do--and give each cheese its own knife.
  • Fancy tools, like cheese planes, are not necessary. And, if your goal is really to taste the cheese, plain baguettes or very plain crackers are perfect.
Cheese Plate
Photo by Meredith

Secrets Revealed

Want to know the Great Cheese and Wine Secret? The easiest thing to do is to choose wine and cheese from the same region. Like best friends who grew up together, they'll get along great.

The same goes for fruit and nut pairings. Try a nice Oregon Rogue Valley Merlot or Syrah with Rogue River Smokey Blue (smoked over hazelnuts) or Rogue River Blue (wrapped in pear-brandy soaked grape leaves), hazelnuts, and a sliced pear.