Making Wine and Cheese Gift Baskets is simple...
Some background on cheese...
Cheese is made from the curds (solids) of cow, sheep or goat milk, which are separated from the whey and ripened, according to Stephanie Alexander in her Cook’s Companion. With different processing styles, additives and curing methods, there is virtually no limit to the variety and taste spectrum that can be achieved. Farmhouse cheese is cheese that has been made on a farm with milk from that farm exclusively.
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Will Stud, Australia’s sole member of France’s Guilde des Fromagers, suggests nine categories of cheeses.
Blue - Ripen from the inside out and moulds are injected. Think roquefort and gorgonzola
Cooked – low moisture content, long shelf life. Think parmesan, gruyere, emmental.
Fresh – uncured, unripened. Think ricotta, cottage cheese, mozzarella, marscapone
Goats – Distinctive taste, sprinkled with ash. Think Chevre.
Processed – ripening is halted by heat treatment for uniformity. Think supermarket.
Semi-hard – treated at lower temp and matured for 4-12 mths. Think cheddar, raclette.
Sheeps – Traditional Ethnic cheeses. Think fetta, roquefort.
Surface-Ripened Washed Rind – curd is pressed and dipped in brine alternately.
Surface-Ripened White Mould – Mould grows on surface and develops in. Think Brie, Camembert.
Preparing the Cheese Platter
Stephanie Alexander advises to be selective with your cheese for the platter. If you have a single perfectly ripe cheese do not bother adding to the selection – one fine tasting is far superior to a motley jumble of dried out pieces. Far better to have one fine experience than a confusion of inferior choices.
- Remove the cheese from the fridge prior to serving – let the cheese come to room temperature.
- Don’t feel obliged to serve cut kiwi fruit or unripe hard strawberries with the cheese platter – they do nothing to improve the experience.
- Grapes present well on the platter and are a sweet balance.
- Fig Jam is a great spread on crusty bread in between
- Crusty Bread works best with the cheese platter – sourdough bread with dense crumb and chewy crust makes for a satisfying compliment.
Wine for the Cheese Platter
The general rule, according to Stephanie Alexander, is the lighter the cheese, the lighter the wine. Don’t necessarily think that you always have to serve a dry, full bodied red wine.
A sticky dessert wine sits well with a creamy blue cheese.
Gift Baskets make the ideal birthday present for a person who has everything. Gourmet hampers make for a pleasant surprise that keeps giving for long after the occasion, as there is no rush to open and sample all of the jars and bottles in the gift. For more tips and advice on gourmet gifts, call 1300 284 684.