Top 10 Tips for Serving Cheese

Sampling cheese is something that many of us are quite familiar with. Whether it’s a special arrangement of soft cheeses at Christmas or indulging in a camembert and French bread starter, cheese always has a place at the table. Follow our Top 10 Tips for serving cheese to ensure you get the best from your cheese selection.

Selection of cheeses with knives and strawberries on a cheeseboard

On one of our barge cruises, you will have the chance to sample several varieties and brands of cheese. Each cheese has a story to tell about where it came from and how it was made. However, this is not the only important thing about cheese… Did you know that the true flavour of cheese can be enhanced by the way it is served? Well, we certainly think so! That’s why we’re teaching you everything you need to know to serve cheese!

1. Serve Cheese at Room Temperature

For the utmost in flavour, aroma and texture, serve cheese at room temperature. It is good practice to take cheese out of the fridge at least an hour before serving. Never remove more cheese than you intend to serve, because repeated warming up causes cheese to dry out and deteriorate.

2. Leave the Rind On

When you serve cheese, leave the rind on – even the downy-white rind of soft cheeses. The only exceptions to this rule are some hard cheeses like Gouda and Emmental, which can have an additional coat of wax, plastic, or paraffin on the outside. This coating should be peeled away and discarded to expose the edible rind.

Cheese rounds with wax rind

3. Know Your Cheese Knives

How cheese should be served is with its own serving utensil placed alongside it. Each cheese needs its own cheese knife because using one knife for multiple cheeses mixes flavours. Serving and cutting tools can range from a spreader for soft cheeses, to a sharp knife for hard cheese. A special cheese knife has a sharp edge and is tipped with two prongs that are used to spear a cheese that has just been cut.

4. Choose Your Cheeseboard

The plate on which you serve cheese can take many forms. A marble cheese-round is classic, but other choices include a wooden cheeseboard, a granite tile, a slate or a footed cake plate. Really, you can use any flat surface on which the cheese will fit! The only thing you really need to consider is the colour of the serving plate. Make your cheese look good by adding contrast – most cheeses are light-coloured so a dark background is what cheese should be served on.

Cheese and accompaniments with crackers on wooden board

5. Space Your Cheeses on the Cheeseboard

How the cheese is presented on the cheeseboard generally depends on its size and shape. Wedges or large chunks of cheese should be served as they are, and small rounds of cheese should remain whole. Never put strong cheeses next to milder ones, and arrange the cheeses in the order they should be tasted.

6. Compliment the Flavours in Cheese

Accompaniments for cheese can be arranged on the cheeseboard or served on the side. Sides that go well served with cheese include seasonal fruit, dried fruit, nuts or cured meats. Chutney or mustard can also go well with certain cheeses, like Mature Cheddar or triple-cream cheeses like Brillat-Savarin.

Cheese on serving slate with apple and dried fruit

7. Buy Fresh Cut Cheese

Exposure to air diminishes flavours by diffusing the aromas in the cheese. It doesn’t take long for this to happen at all! However, if you’re serving leftover cheese, carefully trim away the outermost half an inch of the cheese to expose the fresher centre.

8. Never Store More than One Cheese Together

Consider buying a roll of cheese paper to re-wrap unfinished cheeses. Cheese paper helps cheeses to breathe without spoiling them or tainting other stored cheeses. If you’re going to finish your cheese within a couple of days then a sealed plastic bag or cling film will suffice.

Cheese, grapes and cheese knives on wooden board

9. Do Not Freeze Cheese

Without diving into the science of it, freezing cheese obliterates the flavour, smell and texture. Once the cheese comes out of the freezer, you will be left with an unpleasant, dry version of the delicious cheese you once had. Cheese should be served fresh!

10. Don’t Take Cheese Pairing Advice Too Seriously

What beverage pairs well with cheese for one person, may not pair well for another. Wine and cheese are classically paired together, as are cheese and beer. If you fancy being adventurous though, why not try pairing cheddar, beef jerky and scotch? Creativity is key to discover new flavour combinations when you serve cheese!

Soft cheese on wooden board with nuts and dried fruits

Barge Cruises with Cheese-Tasting Experiences

Now that we’ve shared our secrets with you on how to serve cheese, you’ll be an expert! If you’d like to find out more about a European Waterways cruise, and enjoy some cheese served to you, then contact our sales team or request a brochure.

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