You've selected your cheeses, but how do you care for them once you've reached home? How long do they last? At what temperature should the cheese be served? What wines should be paired with them? What are some great cheese platter combinations? Let's answer those questions for you...
How long will cheese last?
That totally depends on the cheese - soft cheeses should be eaten within a fortnight(ish), while hard cheeses can last months. It's all to do with the water content; the harder/dryer the cheese the longer the shelf life.
Whole or pre-wrapped cheeses (think French brie in a box) will have a 'best before' date on it. The cheese will be in pristine condition prior to this date, but unlike products that have a 'use by' date (like milk), it can still be consumed shortly outside this date range; it may just be a little bit softer or stinkier (which can be perfect for cheese).
We generally recommend consuming cheese within 2-3 weeks of purchase.
How do I care for cheese once it's been taken home?
Put it in the fridge immediately.
When serving, think about how much you want to use and only bring that portion into the heat.
Soft cheeses that have been out of the fridge for a few hours (more than 4) should be discarded.
Try not to touch the cheese with your hands, or make sure you've washed your hands thoroughly beforehand.
To extend the life of cut or harder cheeses, check them weekly. Slightly scrape down the sides or cut off any mould growth. Re-wrap in clean glad wrap.
Remember, it's often normal to have mould growing on cheese, after all it's added to the milk and is a key component of some cheeses (think blue cheese).
At what temperature should cheese be served?
Ideally cheese should be served at room temperature because this brings out the flavour. Room temperature means between 15-22 degrees (not 37, like it is some days in Brisbane!).
Take the cheese out of the fridge around 30 minutes prior to serving, depending the heat of the day.
What wines should cheese be paired with?
Here are some suggestions:
- Champagne/Sparkling Wine - Pair with something creamy or a soft washed rind. Eg Cremeaux de Bourgogne, Langres, Burrata.
- White wines - Pair light whites with goat cheese, camembert with medium bodied wines like chardonnay, and stinky cheeses with a wine with residual sugar like Gewurtztraminer. Eg Chabichou du Poitou, Munster, Goat Brie, Ricotta, Feta, Gruyere, Camembert.
- Red wines - Match the strength of the wine with the strength of the cheese. Cheeses to try: Manchego, Epoisse, Cheddar, Comte, Pecorino, Parmaesan, Stilton
- Fortified wines - Pair with assertive cheeses that can hold their own against the strong flavour of the wine, eg Brillat Savarin, Stilton, Roquefort, Manchego.
What are some great cheese platter combinations?
- Traditional cheese platter - Brie de Normandie or Camembert Grand Terroir, Cave Aged Cheddar, Stilton
- Traditional with a twist - Cremeaux de Bourgogne or D'Affinois, Shropshire Blue, Comte
- Cool and funky - Irish Porter Cheddar, l'Affine au Champagne Rose, Saint Maure
- Strong flavours - Epoisse or Affidelice, Reypenaer, Roquefort, Delice au Truffe
- All Australian - Onkaparinga Triple Cream, Woombye Washed Rind, Mont Rouge/Mont Priscilla, Shadows of Blue
- Non-bovine - Chabichou du Poitou, Brebirousse D'Argental Petit, Chevre D'Aquitaine or Wyngaard Goat, Riverine Blue, Goat Brie.