Learn the basics of hosting a tasty wine and cheese with expert tips from Elsa Macdonald, director of wine education for Arterra Wines Canada

1. How to select your cheese

Ruffino ProseccoArterra Wines CanadaOpting for cheeses with varying tastes and textures entices your guests to try something new. Sparkling wine, like Ruffino Prosecco, is a flexible wine to partner with cheese because the bubbles cleanse your palate with each sip. Not just for celebrations, Ruffino Prosecco and semi-soft cheeses like Fontina, Oka and mozzarella or even a fresh goat cheese will be crowd-pleasers at any gathering you host.

2. How to pair cheese with wine

Inniskillin’s Vidal IcewineArterra Wines CanadaTry to balance the intensity of the cheese with the intensity of the winestrong cheese flavours need to be matched by strong wine flavours so they won’t overpower one another. Inniskillin’s Vidal Icewine is a perfect wine to enjoy with a strong, distinctive blue cheese. It’s a salty-sweet match made in heaven.

3. How much is enough?

Cabernet SauvignonArterra Wines CanadaIf you’re serving cheese at a dinner party, opt for individual plates of three to five cheeses as a bridge before dessert. Including a small taste (about 15 g) of a smoked cheese like Gouda or cheddar works well with the rich and opulent style of Robert Mondavi Private Selection Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon before something sweet follows.

4. What's the proper serving temperature?

Jackson-Triggs Reserve MerlotArterra Wines CanadaCheeses are best served at cool room temperatures (17 to 19 Celsius). When it’s cold outside and big reds like Jackson-Triggs Reserve Merlot are on the table, try to bring your aged cheddar or Beemster out of the fridge at least an hour before you plan to serve.

5. How to plate and present your cheese

California’s Meiomi Pinot NoirArterra Wines CanadaChoose cheeses with different colours, coatings and forms that will engage your guests. A soft goat cheese coated in cranberry or light herbs will add some colour and dimension to your cheese board and will stand up to an intense and fruity red like California’s Meiomi Pinot Noir. Other accompaniments like fruits (such as pears, apples and apricots), jams and chutneys, interesting breads and crackers and nuts also create visual interest and add intriguing possibilities.