Posts Tagged ‘holiday cocktail party’

How to create a festive artisan cheese board

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons offers her tips on how to add a delicious artisan cheese board as a final course with dinner or have a cheese platter ready when friends drop in over the holiday season. Whichever way you enjoy cheese, here are Vanessa’s quick tips & how tos.  Enjoy & have a wonderful holiday!

Plan ahead

Who are you entertaining (adventurous, conservative, children?). How long is the event? Will a meal or snacks be served? What are your favorite cheeses? Do you have a theme? If you don’t have a lot of time, go with small soft wheels of cheese (buy a few to have on hand, they make wonderful, from the heart hostess gifts).

Be a savvy shopper

Buy directly from the cheesemaker, from a reputable cheesemonger, or cheese counter. Taste in advance but buy as close as possible to your celebration. Always ask that a fresh wedge be cut for you. Look for artisan cheeses at Serious Cheese, The Piggy Market, Thyme & Again, The Red Apron, Jacobson’s Gourmet Concepts, Ottawa Bagelshop. Farm Boy and Sobey’s also have great holiday ideas. Find local Ottawa region cheesemakers at holiday farmers artisan markets at this time of year.

Mix it up

Consider taste, style and texture. Choose a theme — region, milk type (cow, sheep, goat, buffalo) or category (fresh, soft, semi-soft, washed, firm, hard, blue). 3-5 cheeses display well on a board or serve one stellar cheese as an appetizer, or dessert. Buying cheeses that look different will offer visual appeal to your table. 5-10gms/cheese/person is a good rule of thumb.

Serve cheese with star treatment

Serve at room temperature. Offer one knife per cheese. Don’t cut up small pieces in advance. Allow breathing room between cheeses so aromas don’t mix. Use an interesting wooden board, cross cut log, plate, slate or marble tiles or tiered trays for visual appeal. Keep it simple and your cheese will shine.

Compliment your cheese

Serve specialty breads, gourmet crackers, fresh seasonal or dried fruits, figs, dates, raw or toasted nuts, olives, caramelized or pickled onions or milder charcuterie items as accompaniments. Art-Is-In Bread, Seed To Sausage, Michael’s Dolce, Major Craig’s Chutney & Upper Canada Cranberries are very cheese friendly!

Be sure to serve wine or craft beer

In general most beers and wines pair best and more often with a wider variety of cheeses. The harder the cheese, the more tannic a wine (red wines naturally have tannins) it will stand up to. The creamier the cheese, the more acid required in the wine (white wines tend to have more acidity). Remember balance is key.

Talk about your cheese

What do you see, smell and taste? Share your experience. Compare notes. Conversations around the cheese board create lasting memories of your event. Cheese has evolved from being solely an ingredient to the focal point of a party of one of the courses on a dinner menu, as it’s the perfect food to bring people together.

Enjoy every last crumb

Slow down and savor each morsel. The holidays are a special time of year to make merry with friends, family (and cheese!). Take a break from hosting to enjoy yourself and the company of your guests.

Store cheese properly

Wrap leftovers of soft, semi-soft and washed rind cheeses in parchment or cheese paper, and pop into a small Tupperware or Ziplock bag. Refrigerate in a container in the vegetable drawer (for high humidity).




It is party time – stock up on wine!

Posted by Debbie

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Your to do list is getting longer as the date quickly approaches for your holiday cocktail party.  Next stop, the wine store…but the question is which wines to buy?  


Rest easy & be savvy. Print off our Savvy Sommelier list of wine tips that are sure to please your crowd (and be easy on your wallet).  For something different (& even more convenient),  call our Savvy Sommeliers to arrange for an assortment of wines that you won’t find at the LCBO or SAQ delivered.  That’s right…delivered straight to your doorstep. How is that for making your holiday party to do list shorter?


Support local, pop the cork & serve Ontario wines…

White Wines at the LCBO

Peninsula Ridge INOX Chardonnay VQA 2007 $12.95


Angels Gate Sussreserve Riesling VQA 2008 $14.15
(Debbie’s top holiday pick white wine in the Ottawa Citizen MATCHED: Food & Drink article)


Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling VQA 2008 $16.95 (in Vintages)


Fielding Pinot Gris VQA 2008 $18.95 (in Vintages)


Malivoire Gewurztraminer VQA 2008 $24.95 (in Vintages)


Red Wines at the LCBO

Pilitteri Estates Cabernet-Merlot VQA 2007 $12.95


Pelee Island Pinot Noir Reserve VQA 2008 $14.95


Chateau des Charmes “Droit’ Gamay Noir VQA 2007 $16.95


Rosehall Run Vineyards County Cuvee Cabernet Franc VQA 2007 $18.95


FlatRock Cellars Pinot Noir VQA 2007 $19.95 (in Vintages)


Easy & quick – Order wine online

Stuntman Stu Red Line Merlot VQA 2008 $19.95 – in two clicks you can have the most talked about red wine delivered to your doorstep overnight.
(Debbie’s top holiday pick red wine in the Ottawa Citizen MATCHED: Food & Drink article)



Sip & tour around the world

Sparkling Wine

Astoria Prosecco la Robina, Italy $12.95


Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, Spain $14.95


Nino Franc Brut Prosecco di Valdobiadene, Italy $18.95



White Wines

J&F Lurton Pinot Gris, Argentina $10.95


Whitecliff Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand $14.95


Willm Riesling, Alsace France $16.95 (in Vintages)



Red Wines

Finca La Chamiza Cabernet-Merlot, Argentina $7.95

Cline Cellars Zinfandel, California $13.65


Errazuriz Carmenere, Chile $13.95


Los Molinos, Spain $14.70


Perrin Reserve, France $14.95 (in Vintages)


Cline Cellars Syrah, California $14.95 (in Vintages)


Abadia Raimat Crianza, Spain $14.95 (in Vintages)


Elderton Friends Vineyard Series Shiraz, Australia $15 (in Vintages)


Bertani Valpollicella Ripasso, Italy $16.90


Chapoutier Cotes du Rhone Village Rasteau, France $17.80 (tip: look for the only wine label on the shelve all in brail!)


Katnook Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia $17.95


Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon, California $17.95 (in Vintages)


Torres Gran Coronas Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Spain $18.95 (in Vintages)


At any time, know that you can call on the team of Savvy Sommeliers to help you select wines for your holiday party, or have us be your Sommelier at your party.


May your holiday parties be merry with great wines served!