Dairy Council of Arizona: Pair the perfect cheese with wine

The Dairy Council of Arizona is a paid sponsor of Sonoran Living Live

Entertaining with Cheese
When planning your holiday party, don't forget the cheese course.  It can be a great appetizer or starter with a variety of tastes and textures, or it can be a featured mid-meal course to help provide a tasty transition between a soup or salad and the main course, or it can even be a great way to end the meal. And cheese has a great nutritional profile and counts as one of the recommended three servings from the milk group, so you can't go wrong with a cheese course.  
As an appetizer - consider a cheese platter or buffet with an array of cheeses. Some simple tips include:
·    Choose up to 6 cheeses - include an assortment of textures, flavors and colors from the semi-soft varieties like brie or fresh farmer's cheese to the hard, aged cheeses like Parmesan or aged cheddar.  Use a flag marker to identify the cheeses.
·    Allow for about 2 oz per guest if you're serving dinner or about 4 oz if cheese is the main event.
·    Cheese flavors taste best when they are served close to room temperature. Take cheese out of the refrigerator about 30-60 minutes prior to serving.  Keep it wrapped until ready to serve.
·    Serve a selection of breads, crackers, nuts, vegetables fruits, olives, etc along with the cheeses.  Visit http://www.ilovecheese.com for some great ideas on how to pair cheese with different foods and wines.
As a mid-meal transition - use a cheese plate instead.
·    Select 2 or 3 varieties of cheese that will enhance your meal. For example, semi-soft cheeses with a buttery flavor like Havarti or Muenster pair well with roasted vegetables while creamy Hispanic style cheeses boost the flavors of salsas and peppers.
·    Serve an individual plate with small portions of cheese and a couple of crackers or fruit pieces just after the salad for heightened enjoyment.
As a dessert, cheese is one of the best ways to end a meal.
·    Serve a combination of sweet and savory cheeses - try a creamy bleu variety with dried apricots or figs along with an earthy gouda with almonds and fresh or dried cranberries.
·    Adding fresh and dried fruits provides a well-rounded array of flavors to finish off the meal.
·    Select a favorite dessert wine to complete the dessert course.  
You really can't make a mistake, just serve what you like or try some new choices. With such a great variety available, cheese can be the life of your next party.  Check out www.ilovecheese.com for more information on how to pump up your party with cheese.
By Terri Verason, MS, RD
Director of Nutrition Education, Dairy Council of Arizona.

Dairy Council of Arizona
www.dairycouncilofaz.org  
The Nutrition Education People

The Dairy Council of Arizona is a paid sponsor of Sonoran Living Live

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