What Kind of Cheese for a Wine taisting Party?
I am going to have the party of the ages! But, I don't know what I need to do is a certain area! I am trying to have a better party then my crazy neighbor. He had an amazing party and said that nobody could out do what he did. I have a lot of things lined up to make it the best party ever. I am planning on starting off with nice a wine tasting and then go on to music and other things of that nature. But I know that I want the best in my party and I don't know what type of [url=gourmet cheese]Gourmet Cheese[/url] I want! SO please if you can give me a heads up that would be amazing.
Somewhat depends on the type of wine you are serving. Depending on where you live there might be a specialty cheese shop or department tied in with a local Whole Foods or something similar. I have done several wine tasting/cheese and meat functions at tailgaters before. Turned out very nice. It is important to fancy up the trays somewhat, nice plating, spanish almonds, maybe some honey comb, I used French Double Cream's, baked brie, light cheddar, good stuff from Salume (sp) in Seattle, and great crackers and smaller breads. Fresh figs, pears and apples went well with the plates also.
Serious over-thinkers will pair one or two cheeses with each wine because some cheeses do go better than others with certain wines.
The better option, imo, is just to get 4 - 6 different types of cheese.
Two cheeses are basic requirements for all my wine tasting events -- both that I put on and that everybody else in the whole wide world that I know puts on as well:
Cypus Humbolt Fog (a mild soft-ripened, ash crusted and lined goat cheese)
Then, you need a good soft ripened cow cheese -- my favorite right now is Cowgirl Creamery "Red Hawk"
You want a blue -- I prefer Rocqufort, but a good stilton will also do
Then you can have fun, there are some awesome cheeses with truffles in them.
I'd go to my favorite cheese shop (or nearest Whole Foods) and ask to tate a whole bunch of cheeses -- they let you at most good cheese shops and at all Whole Foods with big cheese couters and make my selections.
Whiner probably has the best option to go with if you want to showcase a variety of cheeses with wine. My general rule for any cheese tasting is a goat, a blue, a sheep and a cow. From there you decide as to which one is hard, soft, raw milk, etc. I mean you can be real elaborate, but then will the attendees appreciate it? Or are they going to be blown away just by size vs. quality? Is this a wine and cheese knowledgeable crowd? Something to consider.
I get the sense that the OP is really looking for specific suggestions, and I think whiner's made some excellent suggestions. Especially if the only real cheesery in your area is the cheese counter at Whole Foods, your options will be somewhat limited. I'll try to limit suggestions to cheeses that I've found consistently at Whole Foods.
First, as whiner suggests, Parmigiano Reggiano. A great cheese, easily available. It ain't just for grating on your spaghetti!
Second, as whiner also suggests, Cypress Grove's Humboldt Fog. This cheese presents gorgeously, and tastes even better. Rich, decadent, and only very mildly "goaty", it's an absolute favorite in my household and tends to be the first cheese to disappear from the board when we're entertaining.
St. Agur bleu cheese - a medium strong and very creamy cow's milk blue (like all blue cheeses - even the "medium strong" ones - be sure to serve on a separate board with separate utensils)
I'd also include a Manchego, a semi-firm sheep's milk cheese from Spain that I often prefer when others might select a stronger cheddar. WF typically stocks 2 or 3 varieties, so ask to taste and pick the one you like best (assuming you like them at all - and I bet you will!).
I also like the idea of a truffled cheese, but my personal favorite is Cypress Grove's Truffle Tremor... which is perhaps too similar to their Humboldt Fog. Actually, the flavors are quite drastically different - the introduction of the strong flavor of truffle overwhelms the other flavor elements - but the texture and presentation will be very similar.
Be sure to check the resources here and elsewhere for the proper storage and service of cheese, as well as the usual garnishes. If you're not familiar with serving cheeses, it's worth taking a quick look so you don't make some easily avoidable mistakes (you know, don't put serve it out in the sun, don't serve it cold out of the fridge, don't slice/cube your cheese like that crappy buffet at the Holiday Inn, don't forget the proper garnishments, etc.).
Finally, be sure that the person who sells you the cheese cuts it and wraps it properly. Sometimes there'll be someone filling in at the cheese counter that tries to give you several tired, drying-out "leftover" cuts instead of a single, nice wedge freshly cut out of the wheel. I've even had a WF employee hand me a huge cut of ripened goat cheese wrapped in plastic (should be wrapped in waxed paper). Just let 'em know you're throwing a party and the cheese needs to present well, and I bet they'll be glad to help you out and eager to do a good job.
EDIT: This chow how-to video is a good start (sorry if this is much too basic - I'm not sure what your experience is!): http://www.chow.com/stories/11402
If it were me throwing the party, my cheese platter would have the following, to get a good variety of cow/sheep/goat's milk, textures, and countries:
(1) Brillat Savarin - France, soft, cow's milk. This is always the crowd-pleaser for all my parties...maybe it's the75% butterfat (mmm...butterfat). Truffled Brillat Savarin is even better! Potential substitutes: Delice du Bourgogne, Explorateur, St. Andre
(2) Humboldt Fog - USA, soft, goat's milk. This cheese isn't for everyone, especially people who don't like goat cheese, but it's one of the few cheeses that I really like with white wines. Potential substitutes: Cypress Grove Truffle tremor or any other chevre
(3) Parmiggiano-Reggiano - Italy, hard, cow's milk. I'm talking about the good stuff, not your typical grocery parmesan. Potential substitute: Grana Padano
(4) Manchego - Spain, semi-hard to hard (depending on age), sheep's milk. This is my favorite sheep's milk cheese, and one of my favorite cheeses in general. Potential substitute: other sheep's milk cheeses
(5) Roaring Forties - Australia, semi-soft, cow's milk. Blue cheese. This is a little milder than some other blue cheeses I've had, so it's a good intro to people who aren't into "stinky cheeses" in general. Potential substitute: other blue cheeses
5 cheeses might be a bit over the top for most people, but then I'm a cheese addict. =) I usually have at least 3 cheeses on the plate on weekends to share w/ the hubby, and I usually have 5-6 cheeses when I have people over.
While you're at it, you would also want some of these to go with your cheeses
- sliced baguette, water crackers or flatbread
- nuts (Marcona almonds are great if you can find them, but toasted walnuts or almonds would be good as well),
- honey (with honeycomb even better)
- fruit (figs, olives, etc.)
Have a great party!
<<Truffled Brillat Savarin is even better!>>
My friends and I call this CheezGasm.
We buy it at Whole Foods, where the cheese counter person slices the wheel of Brillat Savarin into two horizontal layers, then spreads a very high-quality truffle paste between the layers and reassembles the wheel. Outrageously good.
juanguady, you did not say how much time you have until your party; if you have to purchase from the selection available at your local stores, you will be more limited than if you have time to order on-line.
If you really want to set the bar so high that your "crazy neighbor" will not be able to top it, then get a variety of cheeses from a small geographical region and make your party a theme party. If it were us planning such a display, we would try to wow the crowd with the great variety of cheeses from Asturias , which produces exceptional cow, sheep, and goat cheeses in soft, hard, and blue styles, including such eye-openers as Gamonedo and Los Beyos. Yum! http://www.artisanalcheese.com/produc... You could match the cheeses with Rioja, Somontano, and Albarino wines.
Let's see your crazy neighbor top that!