Live the Experience with carefully prepared Castello® Cheeseboards
It is said that to truly experience taste, one must not ignore the other four senses; the feel, sound, scent and design of food. Castello understands the importance, especially over the holiday season, to create the perfect moment with your Creatively Crafted Cheeseboard.
We have put together a collection of inspirational Cheeseboards, pairing insight and styling advice to inspire you to create the perfect Cheeseboard for any occasion this holiday season.
Be inspired and be creative with Castello Creatively Crafted Cheeseboards.
How to style your Cheeseboard
Styling your Cheeseboard is really only half the job! We all eat with our eyes first so don’t underestimate the power of styling your Cheeseboard. With just a few tips you’ll be sure to wow your guests with both great appearance and great taste.
Now, let’s jump right into the basics – what to serve your Cheese on.
1. The display
The bright colours of the Cheese pops out even more when served on an artisan wooden board, a marble or stoneware plate. It lifts up the appearance of the Cheeses but also the overall impression of the board.
2. Flavours, textures and coloUrs of the Cheeses
When you put together your Cheeseboard, be sure to mix up your Cheeses. Think about flavours, texture (soft, semi-solid and solid Cheeses) and colours (white mould, blue mould, red smear and yellow Cheese). Variety makes it of course more fun to eat the Cheeses and to discover new pairings but it also adds visual interest to your board and sparks conversation.
3. How to arrange the Cheese
For your presentation, consider leaving some of the Cheese mostly whole with a cutting knife beside. Others you can cut out half. Solid yellow Cheese can advantageously be cut out completely, e.g. in sticks or small cubes.
4. ColoUrful accompaniments
Accompaniments is what makes the Cheeseboard really fun – this is where you get to experiment with different flavours, textures and combinations. And the accompaniments are also what can make your Cheeseboard special – it can be simple with just a few Cheeses and cured meats or you can go for the full flavour palette depending on the occasion.
Serve your accompaniments directly on the board or in small bowls to fill up the negative space and visually enhance the presentation.
Bread comes in many different shapes and variants. Look not only for flavour but also colour and texture. It may be a long raised sourdough bread, toasted rye bread or a light Italian bread. Crisp bread or delicious rustic biscuits can also be an option and taste delicious with Cheese
Plum chutney, jams, figs or other dried fruits, nuts and fresh berries are excellent choices for especially blue Cheeses as it balances out the bold flavours from the blue mould.
A true crowd pleaser are artisanal Cheeses and cured meats – the perfect duo. Choose parma ham, sausage, chorizo or similar. If you want to go with more savoury items pickled onions, tomato- and basil pesto or olive tapenade are great choices.
Fresh herbs are an easy way to add some freshness and brighten up the Cheeseboard
Remember, not all accessories have to be homemade, you can easily buy stylish accessories in good delis or well-stocked supermarkets.
5. Serve white wine or beer with your Cheeseboard
Serve white wine with your Cheese and forget all about red wine! Blue Cheese matches perfectly with sweet white wine or port wine. An overseas chardonnay is a good all-rounder for the Cheeseboard. Another possibility serving beer with your Cheeseboard. The carbon dioxide has a cleansing effect in the mouth when eating soft and creamy Cheeses. White Mould Cheese goes well in hand with bright Belgian beers, such as Saison or triple ales. Blue Cheeses are happy with a glass of barley wine or bock. Strong yellow Cheese tastes good in the company of hoppy beers such as IPA (Indian Pale Ale).
And there you have it - the perfect Cheeseboard ready for all your holiday entertaining!
WHAT TO DRINK WITH CHEESE
HOW TO PAIR WHITE WINE WITH CHEESE
White wine is close to the perfect match for Cheese – and generally far better than red wine. The freshness of the white wine, the perfumed notes and the combination of sweetness and acidity suit many Cheeses. However, it is important to pair the right wine with the right Cheese.
You may have heard it before: you should be drinking white wine with your Cheese instead of red. And it’s not just a crazy notion developed by snobbish wine-and-Cheese types. White wine is simply much more suitable for serving with Cheese than red. The milder bouquet, the acidity and any sweetness of white wines complement Cheese better than the robustness, tannins and slightly metallic taste of red wines.
However, white wines – like Cheeses – come in countless varieties and not all types are suitable for all Cheeses. The wines may be light, heavy, young, old, fresh, sweet and much more. And each wine is best suited to a specific type of Cheese. The trick is to experiment and note what you think works best.
In general, however, it is a good idea to serve – if you can – a couple of different white wines with your Cheese; especially if there are several different types of Cheese. For example, try serving a fresh wine and a more complex wine so you can experience the difference. You might also try serving a young wine and an old wine.
Sweetness and acidity give a nice balance
White wines can be both sweet and acidic at the same time, and this combination generally goes very well with Cheese. As a rule, try to avoid serving very dry white wines with Cheese. Instead, aim for varieties with a little residual sugar. The sugar in the wine goes nicely with the salt in the Cheese, while the acidity rinses the palate, offsetting that slightly greasy feeling.
German Rieslings, in particular, can be a perfect match for many Cheeses. Try the slightly sweeter varieties, such as Feinherb, Kabinett or Spätlese, which generally have a beautiful balance between sweetness and acidity. Then you will be well on your way to Cheese-wine heaven.
The rule here is: the more powerful the Cheese, the more sweetness and acidity it can handle from the wine.
Avoid overly oaked wines
Soft and rich Cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert, often pair nicely with white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. The Chardonnay grape, with its lovely acidity, really brings out the best in the Cheeses.
Certain Chardonnay wines have spent a fair amount of time in barrels, which makes them bolder and more full-bodied. However, this oaked flavour generally makes these types of wine less suitable for pairing with Cheese. Save these wines for flavourful fish dishes.
Age with age – body with body
Another good rule of thumb is to serve full-bodied Cheeses with full-bodied wines – and old Cheeses with old wines.
Very light Cheeses, such as cream Cheese, go best with a young, crisp white wine, while more flavourful aged Cheeses require a more robust wine companion.
If you have an old, creamy, amber, aged white wine, whether it is a Riesling or Chardonnay, serve it with flavourful aged Cheeses. For instance, an aged Gouda, Emmenthal or even Havarti.
What grows together
It is often said that what grows together, goes together. And this is also true – at least in part – with Cheese and white wine.
Goat’s milk Cheese and Sauvignon Blanc make a lovely pair, just as other perfumed white wines pair nicely with full-bodied soft Cheeses. Here, the floral notes bring out the liveliness in the Cheese.
Sweetness in contrast to salt
Very salty and complex Cheeses, such as blue Cheeses, are generally served with sweet condiments. You may have noticed that orange marmalade, figs and raisins often accompany these types of Cheeses. And you can also serve a wine with these same raisin and nutty aromas.
In general, sweet wines are ideal with blue Cheeses, because the sweetness embraces the saltiness and tones down the slightly rancid mouldy taste.
Late harvest wines, with the high sugar content in the grapes, go particularly well with blue Cheese. Try, for instance, a bold, sweet and complex wine. The prices may be high, but then so is the experience.
Actual dessert wines – especially if they have notes of dried fruit – also pair very well with blue Cheese.
As you can see, there are many possibilities, so the best tip is to experiment and be open to exciting combinations.
Fortunately, that’s a big part of the fun. So uncork a couple of your favourite white wines and set out a few Cheeses. After that, you simply taste a little Cheese and then a bit of wine.
Just remember to take your time – make sure to taste the Cheese alone and with the wine. Let the taste fill your mouth and note the details. And enjoy what happens when the Cheese and wine meet each other. What happens with the acidity, the creaminess and the sweetness? What do you observe?
HOW TO PAIR RED WINE AND CHEESE
Red wine and Cheese are often served together. But it’s actually quite difficult to pair red wine with Cheese, because red wine can easily stifle the flavour of the Cheese – or the Cheese can make the wine taste off. But fear not – it is possible.
Everyone loves to relax in the evening with some lovely red wine and Cheese. It works every time, right?
Or does it? In fact, pairing red wine and Cheese isn’t all that easy. Many red wines either stifle the flavour of the Cheese or taste off when served with Cheese. One reason for this is the tannins found in red wine, which don’t go well with very many types of Cheese.
That is why it can be so difficult to pair red wine with your Cheese – and why you’ll often have more luck with white wine or beer.
But don’t give up. It is possible to serve red wine with your Cheese platter, as long as you keep a few things in mind. So before popping open that expensive bottle of red you bought on holiday in Italy or France, read on.
Heavy with heavy
Many of the red wines we drink are dry and heavy. These are wines that generally go well with meat and rare steaks, but not with Cheese. Heavy wines can easily overpower lighter Cheeses, such as brie.
But if you do want to drink your heavy wine with Cheese, then go with stronger, aged Cheeses, such as a lovely aged gouda or Castello Tickler Extra Mature Cheddar. Aged Italian Cheeses, like parmesan, pecorino and grana, also go nicely with a heavy red wine.
Those fierce tannins
Most red wines contain tannins – or tannic acids – which come from grape skins. The amount of tannins in red wine differs greatly. They are found in high concentrations in young wines, but generally fade with age.
In fact, tannins are what make it possible for wines to develop over many years. We see this in the Barolo wines, for instance, which are extremely heavy with tannins when they’re young, but grow softer and more flavourful with age.
High-tannin wines go very well with aged Cheeses that are full of flavour. The tannins in the wine attach to the proteins and fats in the Cheese, effectively rinsing the palate after each bite. However, with younger Cheeses, tannins attach too much to the rich flavour, causing the Cheese to taste chalky and metallic.
Light reds with light Cheeses
If you are serving a selection of light Cheeses, such as brie, red smear Cheese and other white mould Cheeses, it’s a good idea to serve a light and fruity red wine. Pinot Noir are especially lovely.
Cheese likes sweetness
It’s not uncommon to serve grapes, raisins and dried fruit with Cheese. And for good reason: Cheese loves sweet company, and this also applies to the wine – even when it’s red.
Amarone therefore makes an excellent Cheese wine, as it’s a red wine made from dried grapes, which tend to be both heavy and sweet. However, it’s still important to remember to serve Cheeses that match the heavy, flavourful wine. The disadvantage is that a good Amarone is often quite expensive.
You can also go all out and serve a genuinely sweet red wine with your Cheese platter. There are plenty of wonderful red dessert wines – some are even quite acidic, which is another plus – and they generally go quite well with heavy Cheeses and blue Cheeses, where the sweetness balances out the saltiness.
Fortified wines, like port, sherry and Madeira, also go very well with rich Cheeses. A classic match is port, but other blue Cheeses also taste lovely alongside a glass of sweet, flavourful port.
Match the style
Another good rule of thumb is to match the style of the Cheese and the wine. The more unusual a wine is, the more unusual a Cheese you can pair it with. If you have a light Cheese you’ll want to serve it with a light, natural wine.
However, if you have an old, aged red wine it should be served with an elegant and firm aged Cheese. The two old chaps go hand in hand and suit one another perfectly.
Finally, if you have a sweet, fruity wine with heavy berry notes, try serving it with a very ‘cheesy’ Cheese. For instance, an aged brie with notes of ammonia.
Remember to experiment
As you can see, there are many possibilities and pitfalls. The best advice is therefore always to experiment – serve several different wines, if you like. This will increase your chances of finding a good match.
It’s also a good idea to test both the Cheese and the wine before deciding. Have an open bottle of that wonderful Italian red left over from your steak or pasta dinner the other night? Taste it with a bit of Cheese. Do they work well together? Or should you serve something else with the Cheese?
In the end, let your taste buds decide. Just remember that it’s a shame to ruin an excellent wine or wonderful Cheese with a bad pairing simply because you couldn’t wait to try that particular wine or Cheese.
What to drink with a Cheeseboard?
Choosing the right beverages for your Cheeseboard can be exciting – but also a bit of a challenge. Should you find something that goes with all the Cheeses or serve something different for each type of Cheese? Here are a few good tips.
A good Cheeseboard should, of course, feature a variety of different Cheeses. It should also be interesting, beautiful and offer surprising and varied tastes. Typically, it will include both mild and strong Cheeses, sweet and salty. And it will often start with something light and grow richer and stronger as you gradually move through the selection.
But what should you serve with the Cheese? That is the big question if you don’t want to just fall back on the traditional red wine without putting much thought into it.
After all, Cheese isn’t just Cheese. There are countless varieties and many different beverages that can be paired with them. But the first important decision to make is: Do you want to serve one drink with the Cheese selection or pair different beverages with each Cheese – or at least with each type of Cheese?
The easy – and somewhat costlier – approach is to open up a few different wines. That way there is something for everyone and for every Cheese. But even then, what you choose to serve still matters. Some consideration and preparation never hurts – and it’s a good way to ensure that your Cheeses don’t get smothered by the wrong wine or beer, or that the drinks don’t taste off because they don’t go well with the Cheeses you’re serving.
One drink for the entire Cheeseboard
If you only want to serve one beverage with your Cheese, then white wine or beer are your best bets.
A slightly sweet white wine will often work well, but take care it’s not too sweet and try to find one with a nice acidity to cut through the richness of the Cheese. Sweet wines go well with most Cheeses, and a good bet can be a Niagara Riesling. These particular white wines are both sweet and quite acidic – and often taste simply divine.
A Niagara dessert wine also goes well with many Cheeses – especially if it isn’t too sweet.
Avoid dry white wines as they rarely pair well with the creaminess and richness of especially the more flavourful Cheeses. Wines made from the Chardonnay grape also pair well with certain types of Cheeses, but unfortunately not all of them.
Try beer or a G&T
You can also try pairing a beer with the Cheeseboard. A beer that isn’t too strong will bring out interesting flavours in the Cheeses – for instance hops helps emphasize the floral notes. You might go with something as simple as a slightly hoppy lager or a straightforward pale lager. These two go surprisingly well with many Cheeses.
Watch out for very strong beers, which should really only be paired with rich and strong Cheeses, as they can easily overwhelm lighter flavours. Another thing to be careful of is beers with a high alcohol content, which can work with aged Cheeses, but generally don’t go well with milder varieties.
If you’re looking for a more unconventional pairing, try serving a gin and tonic. A G&T goes surprisingly well with mild and creamy Cheeses, as well as with blue Cheese. A gin sour is another all-around cocktail that tastes wonderful with Cheese.
Serve Cheeses in groups
If you want to invest in different beverages for your Cheeseboard – but don’t want to pair one drink with each Cheese (which can be both costly and intoxicating) – you might consider serving the Cheeses in 2-3 groups.
The mild and creamy Cheeses, such as brie, camembert and similar, pair well with something light. A lager or G&T would go well here. A crisp white wine or a very light red wine, such as Pinot Noir, would also be a lovely match. Or try a Chardonnay that isn’t too oaky.
Firm and aged Cheeses, like aged gouda or emmental, need something with a bit more oomph. Try a brown ale or a slightly sweeter white wine. The somewhat heavier Belgian beers will also go well here.
If you want to serve a cocktail, try an Old Fashioned, with orange notes and sweetness from bourbon – or a Manhattan, which is also quite sweet with a slight bitterness.
Blue Cheeses like a strong and sweet drink, which can balance out the saltiness of the Cheese. Try a red Amarone, a sweet dessert wine (either red or white) with strong raisin and nutty notes, or perhaps a glass of port. Heavy beers with a high alcohol content also make a good match with blue Cheese.
Match them properly
To achieve a good pairing between Cheeses and drinks, they need to match each other in strength. That is, light Cheeses go best with light beverages, and heavy Cheeses go well with heavy beverages.
It’s a good idea to taste each pairing first and to be honest with yourself. If you don’t like the pairing, your guests probably won’t either. And try to avoid doing what you’ve always done. Drop the heavy, dry red wine you always serve. It may be delicious, but it just doesn’t go very well with Cheese. Have you ever lowered your guard and really tasted it?
Explore the possibilities. Trying something new is a lot more fun. Even when a pairing isn’t perfect, you learn from it and it gives your guests something to talk about.
And if you have enough time, you can always do a test tasting beforehand. You’re guaranteed to get a better result and have fun in the process.
New Year’s Eve: 3 Midnight Snacks that will keep the party going
Start your new year off right with these decadent and crowd pleasing midnight snacks!
New Year’s Eve dinner is something special – where Christmas dinner is traditional New Year’s Eve calls for culinary experiments and decadent servings, that amplify the festiveness of the evening. And Midnight is of course when everything peaks – 2017 is on the horizon, the champagne is popping and we all enjoy a little snack with the bubbles and wish each other a happy New Year before enjoying the fireworks.
Now, everyone loves a yummy midnight snack and as New Year's Eve is a special night, why not go all in on impressive easy to make New Year’s Eve midnight snacks that will keep the party going?
Here are 3 crowd pleasing New Year’s Eve Midnight snacks that all pairs perfectly with champagne!
Tartlets with salmon and Castello® Tickler Extra Mature Cheddar
These crispy tartlets are made with filo pastry and only takes 10 minutes to make. Fill them with a mix of dill, Castello® Tickler Extra Mature Cheddar and salmon and you are in for a bite sized treat!
Kale chips with Parma ham and Castello® Brie
Kale chips with just the right balance between crispiness and chewiness makes the perfect base for the mild Castello® Brie and a small slice of Parma ham!
Crispy Pineapple with Castello® Decorated Cream Cheese - Pineapple
Ever tried baking a slice of pineapple? It turns into a beautiful pineapple flower that fits perfectly with the festive New Year occasion. Top it with a little Castello® Decorated Cream Cheese - Pineapple and half a pineapple cherry – simple and delicious!
Happy New Year!
Pair bubbles with your cheese
Sparkling wines like champagne, cremant and prosecco aren’t just festive – they also go extremely well with cheese. Lighter cheeses in particular really come alive when served with sparkling wine, as the crispness and bubbles bring out the best in the cheese. But aged cheeses with nutty nuances and strong blue cheeses also liven up in the company of bubbles.
How often do you drink champagne with cheese? Or with food in general? Probably not often enough, in the opinion of wine experts. Real champagne lovers swear that champagne goes with everything. And according to connoisseurs, champagne is actually the perfect wine to serve with food.
And this means cheese, too. Champagne pairs extraordinarily well with cheese, with the complex aromas in the wine and the equally complex tastes from the cheese producing a bubbly explosion of flavour in the mouth. And this isn’t just true of genuine champagne from the Champagne district in France. It also goes for many other sparkling wines, including cremant from other parts of France, prosecco from Italy, cava from Spain and sparkling wine from Canada.
So don’t hesitate to bring out the bubbles the next time you serve cheese. And be prepared to discover an exciting world of aromas and flavours, palate-rinsing acids and the delightful lightness that sparkling wine is known for.
Sparkling wines are often acidic white wines with refreshing effervescence. And it is this unique combination of acid and bubbles that perfectly rinses the palate after a rich piece of cheese. The wine literally clears the way for the next bite so you can enjoy it fully.
The acidity in many sparkling wines makes them excellent partners for a wide array of cheeses. Mild white mould cheeses, like brie and camembert, bring out the fruity nuances of the crisp acids, which at the same time help to cut through the fat. The same holds true of aged cheeses, where the fat content is often higher. Even blue cheeses are complemented by the acidity – especially if the wine also has some punch and perhaps a touch of residual sugar to rein in the bitter mouldy flavours.
The stronger the cheese, the more intense the wine
Sparkling wines come in many varieties and price ranges. With the less expensive varieties, such as prosecco from Italy, cremant from France and cava from Spain, you will often find good quality at a reasonable price, and there is an impressive range of good wines to choose from. Italian sparkling wines are often sweeter – for instance a refreshing asti spumante – while Spanish cavas are more acidic. And then we have genuine champagne, which must come from the Champagne district in France in order to bear the name. These elegant wines are often on the sour side, but there are also sweeter varieties.
A good rule of thumb is the stronger the cheese you’re serving, the heavier the wine should be. Young, noncomplex wines with a nice acidity – from Champagne, but also from Spain – go well with lighter cheeses, while the heavier and often more aged sparkling wines are wonderful with aged cheeses.
First-class sparkling wines – especially from Champagne – often have nutty and sometimes bread-like aromas, which complement aged cheeses nicely. Cheese like Castello® Extra Mature Cheddar are very flavourful with a high salt content and lots of sweet, nutty nuances. You’ll want to serve a more expensive and complex wine with these types of cheeses. A good choice would be a vintage champagne or cava, where time has allowed a complexity of flavours to develop while reining in the acidity somewhat.
Careful with very sweet wines
There are also very sweet varieties of sparkling wine, which you should be a bit careful with. Sweet wines normally go quite well with cheese, but in order for the sweetness to work, it has to be accompanied by high acidity. And that can be hard to find in sweet sparkling wines – especially the less expensive ones.
You might recognise this from the sweet Italian asti, which is often served in Denmark with marzipan cake. It is a very sweet wine that tastes almost like an alcopop. This type of wine can be delightful on a hot summer day, but as an accompaniment to cheese, it doesn’t make the grade. It is just sweet on sweet, which doesn’t do anything for the cheese. Cheese loves honey, apricot and raisin nuances – especially aged cheeses – and these nuances are more often found in aged wines.
If you want to serve a sweet sparkling wine, you will have to make a bit of an investment to get one that goes well with cheese. A good demi-sec champagne will pair nicely with cheese, where the complex sweetness and accompanying acidity can raise a blue cheese to amazing heights.
Bring on the bottles and let your curiosity lead you
The world of sparkling wines – like the world of cheese – is vast and complex. And even though there are many helpful tips, there are no hard and fast rules. The bubbles and the often complicated production process for sparkling wines bring out special aromas which make them different from similar white wines. At the same time, the bubbles do things to the cheese that other wines don’t.
The best advice is, as always, to experiment. Buy a couple of good cheeses, pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly and start tasting. Nibble a little cheese, then take a sip of wine. Enjoy the bubbles and the flavours as they develop. And then ask yourself... Do I like how this tastes? If not, then try a different cheese or a different wine.