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How to make a French cheese board

Wooden board with cheese, flowers, fruit and a glass of red wine

Take a trip with your taste buds via a French cheeseboard! Add a flavour of Normandy’s finest, a soupcon of Franche-Comté’s famous fromage, a chunk of goats cheese, a wedge of something blue. Pair it with French wine and enjoy a scrumptious feast any time.

Laurent Yung of SomMailier.com French wine club in the US gives his top tips to make a French cheese board, perfect for a celebration or to make any dining event that bit more special.

Cheese – and wine…

The key to creating the perfect French cheese board is balance, and of course, the right wine to drink with it.

In France, cheese plates are typically served at the end of the meal before the dessert course. And being France, there are many “rules” when it comes to serving and eating cheese courses. But we don’t want to make it hard work, so this is a simplified guide for how to make a French cheese board.

Le Fromage

Choose your cheeses first. Then pick the accoutrements you want to add later.

Generally, three to five cheeses are typically recommended for a platter. It looks good and it means everyone will find something to suit their taste. You want different textures and flavors to give your cheese board some variety. So pick a hard, soft, semi-hard, and semi-soft cheese. With flavors, find a mix of mild and strong flavors.

Below are some cheese suggestions with wines that we recommend pairing them with:

Goat Cheese + a fresh, fruity red with low tannins or a dry, crisp & fruity white or Champagne

Camembert or Brie + an elegant, acidic red Burgundy or an aromatic, complex Chardonnay

Comté + a medium-bodied Pinot Noir or a rich, dry white

Blue Cheese + a sweet dessert wine

Bread and extras

A slice of baguette is perfect for smothering your softer cheeses on. Or use crackers to scoop and stack.

When it comes to extras, a general guide is to pick something savory like olives, sweet, and crunchy. You can also add charcuterie (this is the French word for cold cuts, not the overall platter as Americans tend to refer to it as) to the board.

For sweetness grapes, slices of apple or pear go particularly well with Brie. Fig jam or a drizzle of honey provides a spreadable sweetness that is simply delicious with goat cheese and brie. A few fresh fruits, seasonal berries or dried fruit such as apricots add texture and flavour. A handful of nuts is also a great way to add some salty crunch to the plate.

How to Make a French Cheese Plate – Grazing Board

We eat with our eyes first and in France the visual presentation of food is taken seriously. All those fruits and nuts make it look great, but you also need to make it easy for people to enjoy. Scatter some of the extras for looks and put the rest in bowls for sharing around. For harder cheeses, you can slice or cube the cheese in advance. Add a utensil for scooping creamier cheese. Fresh or dried rosemary and seasonal edible flowers are an easy way to add a pop of color and texture. Pour the wine and enjoy.

Cheese and cheers – the perfect combination!

If all this whetted your appetite to learn more about French wine check out SomMailier’s French wine club in the US. Every three months they send three or six bottles of boutique French wines direct to your door. Carefully selected by wine experts in France along with detailed information about each wine and food pairing ideas, what better way to discover authentic French wine. And as if that wasn’t enough, they also have a wine club gift option for that special wine lover in your life! Guaranteed to inspire cosy evenings cuddled up with a delicious bottle or two!

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