When summer roles around picnics in the park are a must, and that usually means packing away some delicious cheeses and wines to share with friends. One of the wonderful things about summer is all of the fresh produce that’s finally available, and adding all of these bright, fresh flavors to your cheese spread truly kicks everything up a notch.
When thinking about the cheeses to bring, we go for fresh, mild flavors that don’t overwhelm or steal the show. While sharp cheddar or funky morbier are great in the cooler months, when you’re finally outside we elect to go with cheeses that pair well with fresh fruit, honey and even veggies. In the wine department, now is the time for crisp whites and fruity reds with bright acidity. While a winter cheese plate may be all about the heavy full-bodied reds, when you’re sitting on a blanket in the grass, you can’t go wrong with something cool, refreshing and light.
For our cheese plate we decided to choose one red wine and one white wine to accompany all of the cheeses – a Pinot Noir from California for it’s bright raspberry and cherry notes along with it’s refreshing acidity and a white Rhone blend from France – since no one wants to schlep the perfect bottle for each individual cheese to the park – you’re already carrying enough as it is! But just in case the wines we chose aren’t to your liking, we’ll provide additional ideal wines for each cheese, so you can choose what you love to drink.
Here are the cheeses we chose:
Every cheese plate needs a soft, runny cheese, and camembert is perfect. As the cheese gets warm, it can actually become so runny that you can dip fresh fruit into it. Strawberries and camembert together are simply divine. The wines we chose were delicious with the cheese, but you could also grab a nice bottle of Beaujolais, or Soave if you felt so inclined.
Fresh Goat Cheese
Nothing says summer quite like fresh goat cheese. This mild and tangy cheese is wonderful when spread on crackers with a bit of honey, or even mixed with a bit of fresh herbs. Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice if that’s a favorite wine of yours, as is Rose.
Similar to Manchego, Iberico is actually one of the most popular cheeses in Spain, yet it isn’t as well known in the states. Made from a blend of cow, goat and sheep milk, it’s nutty, mild and salty flavor make it a great addition to the plate. This cheese is also a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, and would also go nicely with a fresh Spanish Garnacha.
Triple Cream Blue
You can’t have a cheese plate without blue cheese, but some people can’t stand it. Trust us, a creamy blue is mild enough for everyone to love, with just enough funk to satisfy true blue cheese lovers. If you wanted to bring along a desert wine, it’d go great with Port or Sauternes.
After assembling all your cheeses on a board, add whatever fresh fruits and other nibbles you love. We went with figs and cherries, but you could add things like strawberries, raspberries and sugar snap peas if they appeal to you. Just add things that are fresh and in season, and you’re sure to have a delicious cheese and wine filled picnic.