The best cheeses for your Christmas cheeseboard

Cheese and wine expert, Fiona Beckett, tells us what the best cheeses and wines are for a Christmas cheese board.

See her expert tips here…

Consider yourself a cheese geek? Discover the 10 Do’s and Don’ts of the cheeseboard.

The best cheeses for your Christmas cheeseboard

The classic way to create a cheeseboard is to choose cheeses of contrasting colours, shapes and textures. Heighten the festive feel by scattering dates, nuts and clementines over the board. My Christmas cheese selection always has a practical edge to it – I want cheeses I can use right through the holiday period. Here’s my selection.

Best cheese for a Christmas cheese board

  • Young crumbly goat’s cheese such as Charlie Westhead’s Dorstone or Ragstone (leftovers are great in salads or for topping canapés)
  • Hard sheep’s cheese such as Manchego or Berkswell (some of your guests may not be able to eat cow’s cheese)
  • Ripe Brie or Camembert. Tesco’s Finest Camembert is a safe bet or try Tunworth, a fabulously mushroomy camembert-style cheese from Hampshire Cheeses
  • A good hunk of strong tangy cheddar. My favourites are Montgomery and Westcombe
  • A wedge of red Leicester or deep-orange Mimolette for festive colour
  • Blue, such as Stilton (how could you not?). If you like to ring the changes there are other great British blues to look out for such as Dorset Blue Vinny or buttery Dorset Blue Vinny

How to choose cheese for a Christmas cheese board

  • Don’t be afraid to serve one ‘hero’ cheese, especially for a small get-together. A perfect brie, a chunk of farmhouse cheddar or a spectacular Vacherin Mont d’Or
  • Bear in mind many independent shops close between Christmas and New Year and that fragile soft cheeses won’t keep as long as hard ones such as cheddar (and pongy ones will stink out the fridge!), so time your shop accordingly
  • Take the cheese out of the fridge at least an hour before serving
  • It’s up to you whether you serve cheese before or after dessert. After is more traditional at Christmas but if you want to carry on with the wine you’ve been drinking with the turkey serve it beforehand, French style.
  • Buy enough cheddar or hard cheese to make toasties and use up leftovers in a great big macaroni cheese

Drinks to go with a cheese board

Port is the traditional partner for cheese at Christmas but try a delicious nutty 10 year old tawny, rather than the more usual ruby port. Maynard’s 10 year old tawny has spicy, treacle toffee flavours.

I also love rich marmaladey Tokaji, a luscious sweet wine from Hungary. Taste the Difference Late Harvest Tokaji 2018 (£12 Sainsbury’s) is made a lighter, less intense, delicately floral style.

Fiona Beckett is the author of Fiona Beckett’s Cheese Course.

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