If you have ever received a stunning hamper with all sorts of different cheeses, you may have found yourself wondering how to make the most of it all.  You can’t help but feel tempted to nibble on a piece of each and every one but you might also feel like sharing this fine tasting experience with your family and friends.  The best way of doing just that is by setting up and getting ready for a fun cheese and wine evening.
When you look through your cheese hamper, you need to create a check list.  Make a note of what you have included in the hamper and make another list of all the other cheeses you need to buy to complete your platter.
The flavours you want to include are:

  • Aged (Chedder or Goat Gouda)
  • Soft (Camembert or Brillat-Savarin)
  • Firm (Parmigiano-Reggiano or Manchego)
  • Blue (Valdeon, Stilton or Gorgonzola)

The flavour of any cheese is affected by the type of milk used.  You can, therefore, spice up the flavours and create wonderful diversity by including cheeses made from cow, goat and sheep milk.  While diversity is of importance, you should also make sure that you serve at least one familiar cheese and place little name cards with each batch to make it easy for your guess to identify each one.
In terms of quantity, you should make sure that you have at least 3 pounds of cheese for every 8 people you invite.  If you are including other finger foods along with the cheese, you can buy less cheese and make meat and salad platters too.  Make sure that you include breads and crackers to go with the cheese.  You can even add different kinds of nuts as well.
If any of the cheeses in your selection have a particularly strong aroma and flavour, you would be best of separating them from other cheeses so that your guests’ senses are not completely overwhelmed.  You should also get your setup ready about an hour before your guests arrive so that the cheeses have time to adjust to room temperature.  Cold temperatures dull the flavour and they are much better appreciated after they have a chance to warm up just a little.
Depending on what kind of event you are hosting, your cheese and wine affair can continue for a few hours.  It’s all about socialising and mingling so make sure that you spread your platters out around the room to avoid a massive traffic jam versus the empty adjacent corner.  Treat this as a social evening and keep it elegant yet casual.  You don’t want to spend the night running around serving your guests or cutting more cheese to refill your platters.  Make sure that you have some ready cut cheese left as a backup in the fridge and remove it before your table becomes empty.  Include plenty of serviettes, toothpicks and side plates as well as extra glasses.