This post is sponsored by Wente Vineyards but, as always, the content and opinions expressed her are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!
There are so many great pairs in the world of food, but cheese and wine is the best of all to a foodie! Anyone can learn how to build a cheese board, but knowing how to pair each element with your favorite wine is an art. Today, we explore the options that go beautifully with a toasty oak Chardonnay.
10 years ago, I never would have thought of spending a Monday night sitting around my kitchen table, devouring a fancy cheese plate with an excellent bottle of Chardonnay with my husband and my best friend. It just wasn’t where my head was.
10 years ago, I was more apt to spend 5 or 6 hours playing an online game with The Hubs late into the night. Or, I’d spend my evening writing, or reading, or going out until 2AM with the gang.
10 years ago, I was not a foodie by any means, content eating pizza rolls and drinking soda and calling it dinner. I was a 20-something in a year-old relationship, still trying to figure out what I wanted from life.
If there’s anyone to blame for the eater I’ve become in the last 10 years, it’s my husband and his fancy, foreign tastes.
Not that I’m complaining.
As a rule, most people likely don’t build their cheese and charcuterie boards around one specific wine.
I’m one of those people. I grab the meats, cheeses, and accouterments I love and make it work.
Let me tell you, though…it doesn’t always work. And you know when it’s not working (you get that wrinkly nose.) Which is one of the reasons I recommend giving pairing a try for a change. It’s an immensely different eating experience when the flavor of something is better because of simply knowing how it will blend with something else.
Now, don’t expect me to launch into specifics on cheeses and whether they have high acidity or what aromas they give off. I’m not a cheese expert, and I’m no sommelier, either. But I know what I like, and a play by play of what was wonderful about this cheese board is what you’re going to get.
I may be a foodie, but I’m not a snob.
And this is a blog, so if you’re looking for technical specs, you have come to the wrong place, my friend. I just have strong opinions and pretty pictures.
That said, this Chardonnay goes wonderfully alongside a good Manchego (my favorite), Brie, and prosciutto. Cheddar is never a bad choice, and having a bit of fruit like fresh mango or pear slices on the side brightens up the oak.
This past week, I was finally able to plan a day to catch up with my best friend. We’ve both had a hectic couple of months. I picked up a bottle of Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay (something different!) along with a few other bottles of wine for us to enjoy.
Every year at Easter, instead of a traditional dinner, we spend the day around her pool with our families chatting, playing card games, and eating and drinking like kings and queens. This year, their house in under renovation and she was traveling that weekend, so our normal plans had been pushed back.
This get together wasn’t the same thing, but it was good for the soul.
This particular cheese board is a serving for 4 to 5 people. But, when you sit around a kitchen table for four hours and talk and sip and munch and talk…you’d be surprised how much of it 2 people can take down by themselves.
I told her about how my life has changed in the course of a few short weeks. How going from an overworked, stressed out, 50+ hour a week manager to a slightly less stressed out entrepreneur felt. How I’m still trying to adjust to working from home.
(Office hours, coffee, and Cold Turkey is how, if you were wondering.)
Then she proceeded to launch into her stories, which are never dull. She is also a blogger, but on a totally different spectrum that I am. She’s a nomad, happy to sleep in the woods and drink campfire coffee in the rays of early morning sun. Which she had done that very day on a short overnight trip to a local park.
I’m more of a glamping kind of gal, which makes her tales that much more interesting.
She told me how she spent her entire tax refund the day she got it, paying off a big chunk of her student loans. She ensured they’ll be paid off this summer (#goals.) How inspired she was on a recent trip to REI (a sporting goods store,) knowing she’s that much closer to her dream: hiking the Appalachian Trail.
We both got a little emotional over our shared feelings on how hard it is to have people understand our views on life. Being tied down to a 9 to 5 job isn’t for everyone. Call us Millennials if you want, but I want to enjoy my life while I can still actually live it, you know? It beats working like mad for another 30 years, just to hobble out to the porch with a cup of tea. Why? Instead of jetting off to Europe or Fiji because you worked yourself too hard when you were young and can’t get around like you used to?
By the end of the evening, there wasn’t much left to this board. Some dirty utensils. A couple of empty wine bottles. More importantly, the full hearts of two girls that have been there for each other for more than 20 years.
You can buy all the wine and cheese in the world, but you can’t buy that kind of friendship.
- Your favorite Chardonnay (Riva Ranch is delightful!)
- Blue Cheese or Stilton
- Camembert or Triple Creme Brie
- Gouda or Gruyere
- Young Cheddar
- Dry Salami (Pinot Grigio)
- Mini Gherkins
- Fruits (apple, pear, mango, dried figs)
- Nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds)
- Spreads (fig jam, hummus)
- Herbs (basil, rosemary)
- Condiments (sea salt, cracked black pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar)
- Crackers & Bruschetta slices
- Arrange the cheeses on the board first, since they are the star. Blue and brie should be served as is. Slice your Manchego into triangles, or provide a cheese knife for on-demand cuts. Gruyere and cheddar should be sliced into cubes or rectangles. Arrange the remaining elements around the cheese in an aesthetic fashion. Serve the board alongside a nice Chardonnay.
For the record, I still won’t touch blue cheese unless it’s in a burger.