Cheese boards are an excellent companion to wine - especially for a dinner party or a small get together with friends. We asked Jan from Just Jan’s (a yummy collection of fruit spreads you can find online) to share some tips for making the perfect, Pinterest-worthy cheese board.
For me, cheese is a food group. I have always enjoyed tasting different cheeses and creating my own cheese boards. The best part about a cheese board is there’s no right or wrong way to make them and you can be as creative and daring as you like. However, there are some combinations that tend to work better than others, so here are some tips to help you make a delicious spread.
The components for a perfect cheese board:
(Some of these are optional, while others (such as the cheese) are must-haves!)
1. The Cheese
When creating a cheese board I set out 3 types of cheese – a soft, semi-hard and hard – a variety is always nice.
Crackers are another must have for a cheese board, especially if you have soft cheeses. Bread is also an option just depending on your personal preference.
I like to include fresh fruit such as grapes or pears on the board, dried fruit such as apricots and cranberries are also nice.
For a textural contrast I also like to include nuts. I tend to use either walnuts or Marcona almonds from Spain, which have a nice delicate taste and are one of my favorites.
If you like olives, add those to your creation of the perfect board – so many to choose from.
6. Fruit Spread
Next is the fruit spread feature – my automatic “go to” is the Kadota fig spread, as it’s so versatile with all types of cheeses! The others that I used for these particular boards were Just Jan’s Organic Strawberry, Mango, Pomegranate, Muscadine Grape and my latest flavor Balsamic onion savory spread.
It’s great to have different wines to try with the different cheeses, because it is hard to know if a wine will go with a cheese until you actually try the combination together. Therefore, open up a few different bottles and experiment (as if we needed an excuse to try more wine and cheese).
And here are my combination picks!
2013 Wonderful Wine Co. Riesling - Columbia Valley, Washington
This slightly sweet, crisp wine pairs nicely with St. Andre triple cream Brie or a good goat cheese – I used Laura Chenel’s Chévre from Sonoma and Just Jan’s Kadota Fig spread. The Mango spread was subtle on the palate with these cheeses but when matched with a semi-hard, Ossau-Iraly Sheep’s milk cheese from France it had a nice earthiness and balance.
2012 Pregame Red Blend - Paso Robles, California
What a great juicy, fruity red! I put this yummy wine with a Kerrygold aged white cheddar, which easily went with Just Jan's seedless raspberry and the organic strawberry flavors. It was really a toss up as they both had the combination of sweet and tangy. You will have to try both and decide for yourself!
2013 Alcalá Monastrell - Alicante, Spain
This bold wine is great match with harder cheeses – I used El Trigal Manchego and Piave cheese, which is easily one of my favorites from Italy, and coupled those with the Balsamic onion savory, Muscadine Grape and the Pomegranate spreads. They were very different pairings and created a whole lot of flavor bursts with the Manchego due to the sweetness of the grape - and the wine was the perfect compliment. That said, the savory combination of the Balsamic onion and both cheeses was dinner for me!
As you can see there are so many ways to create your own perfect cheese board – experiment with the different flavors and come up different combinations that strike your fancy. If you're like me the possibilities are endless – just have fun with it and you can’t go wrong.
About the Author
Jan Hogrewe is the creator of Just Jan's. Made with 14% less sugar than most preserves, Just Jan’s spreads are packed with pure fruit flavor. Staying true to the characteristic and essence of each fruit is what gives every flavor its special quality and taste. They are available online.