The festive cheeseboard is an important component of Christmas eating. Whether you enjoy it after dinner on the big day, or serve as a fireside nibble with some good red wine on one of the holiday evenings, the make up of the board should be balanced, including a variety of textures and strengths of cheese. The rule of thumb is one hard, one soft, one blue and one speciality cheese. But this ratio of course is entirely down to personal choice. You can serve one supreme piece of a favourite cheese in a large chunk – a well matured Irish cheddar style for example, that will be a cheeseboard centrepiece. Ireland now has an enviable array of farmhouse cheeses to boast about. Every style including  soft, hard,  goat’s, sheep’s,  cows and buffalo milk and blue is represented. Make your festive cheeseboard a showcase for the cheeses of Ireland this year. Check the link here for Good Food Ireland Cheese Producers.

Here are some guidelines for serving cheese in perfect condition.

All cheese should be removed from  fridge at least 30 minutes before serving, to allow it to come to room temperature for the flavours to develop.

Soft cheeses should be served with the centres slightly runny.

Never wrap cheese in clingfilm for storing in the fridge. It makes the cheese sweat and spoils the texture, epecially in hard cheeses. Store wrapped in greaseproof and inside a snaptop container.

Many people prefer water biscuits as the classic accompaniment to cheese, because they are plain in taste to allow the flavours of the cheese to shine through. However, others like a mix of crackers including wheaten, digestive, (good for blue cheeses) cream crackers and of course, traditional Irish oatcakes which go with any cheese.

Chutney is particularly good with strong hard cheeses, especially when served as part of a lunch platter. Our food shops are worth checking for Irish chutney and preserves. 

Fresh fruits like grapes, apples and pears are good with cheese. Or you can do what the Spanish do and serve a selection of dried fruits and nuts with your cheeseboard.

Cheese cutting etiquette means cutting a piece from your cheese of choice in a neat way, so as to leave the hunk on the board in a nice shape for the next person! No cutting the pointy nose off the wedge now! Slapped handies!

Drink accompaniments for cheese include sweet white wines for blue cheese, mature red wines for strong hard cheeses and Sauvignon Blanc for soft goat’s or sheep’s cheeses. Also try our Irish handcrafted Ciders, especially with hard cheddar styles.