Two months into the semester and my bank account is dropping faster that you can say BYO at Ken's. Despite the lack of cash flow, socializing doesn't have to stop. Enter the ever versatile wine and cheese—perfect for any occasion from a classy pregame to a full blown meal and night–in with the crew. Pop by Trader Joe’s or FroGro for your next wine and cheese fix.
The main event of tonight’s festivities. The key is variety, mix up texture (hard and soft), flavor intensity (from mild mozzarella to full–bodied blue) , and type (cow, goat, sheep). Stick to 3 to 4 cheeses for a small group (2 to 4 people) and 4 to 5 for a larger group (5+).
- Double Creme Brie: Elegant, slightly earthy and almost butter–like, you cannot go wrong with this fan favorite whether it is baked or served over crackers.
- ($3.89 at TJ’s)
- Boursin: Rich, sweet, and slightly acidic, this spreadable soft cheese is both crumbly and creamy—like cream cheese’s chic French cousin. Pick up the classic Garlic and Herb or try out the sweeter Cranberry and Spice flavor.
- ($3.79 at TJ’s, $4.99 at FroGro)
- Chevre: Mild, fresh, and tangy, goat cheese is the soft cheese jack of all trades. The best part is you can mix the leftovers into a salad or quinoa bowl. It also pairs well with fresh strawberries and Marcona almonds.
- ($2.99 at FroGro)
- Manchego Anejo: Chalky with an intense zesty flavor and salty finish, this Spanish sheep cheese packs a punch. Drizzle some honey over it and try not to cry at how glorious it is.
- ($5.49 at FroGro)
- Comté: Nutty, rich and deep golden color, this cheese is a crowd pleaser perfect for crackers or grilled cheese sandwiches. Pairs well with fig jam.
- ($5.60 at TJ’s)
- 1000 Day Gouda: Smokey and salty with dark beer notes and a crystalline crunch, this satisfying Dutch cheese is reminiscent of Parmesan in the best way. Eat it plain and savor that flavor.
- ($11.99/lb at TJs)
- White Stilton with Mango and Ginger: Not for the faint of heart, this bold British blue cheese is balanced with sweetness from mango and spicy ginger chunks.
- ($9.36/lb at TJ’s)
Let’s be honest, we’re just here for the wine. Go beyond Franzia and buy a bottle like an almost adult.
Cupcake Wine Moscato ($9.97): Sweet notes of Meyer lemons and orange blossom with a fresh, bright finish, this Moscato is light–bodied and easy to drink.
Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay ($10.99): With notes of peach, melon and tart apple, this refreshing Chardonnay pair well with Brie.
Clos du Bois Cabernet ($10.99): Lush, dark berry flavors and a hint of spice make this Cabernet a popular choice even amongst white fan fans.
Barefoot Cellars White Zinfandel ($10.47): With tropical notes and white citrus rounded out by a crisp finish, this rosé pairs well with mild cheeses like the Chevre.
- Stoned Wheat Thins: My cheese vehicle of choice—hearty satisfying crunch works well with soft cheeses.
- Carr's Water Crackers: The traditional pick is super thin and crispy, a perfect blank canvas for any cheese.
- Carr's Whole Wheat Crackers: Slightly sweet, dense and nutty, these crackers pair well with a salty blue cheese or creamy brie.
- Alternatively go the French route and slice up a crusty loaf of baguette
- Fruit: Red seedless grapes ($3.49/lb at TJ’s) and sliced strawberries ($2.49/lb at TJ’s) are a personal favorite. Thin slices of acidic Granny Smith apple contrast nicely with nutty Comte and Gouda.
- Spreads: Raspberry jam, fig jam, or honey for a delicious drizzle.
- Nuts (potentially candied) or Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans are perfect for a sweet finish.
- Consume the cheese at room temperature, If possible set them out 20–30 minutes ahead of time so they’re more flavorful rather than cold fridge–bricks.
- Plate the cheeses on a cutting board, arranging small chunks with crackers. To cut, use a sharp knife or cheese plane for the hard cheeses and a butter knife for the soft cheeses.
- If heaven forbid you have any leftovers store them by wrapping the cheese block in wax or parchment paper and then sealing it in a plastic bag. Soft cheeses should last up to 2 weeks and hard cheeses for up to 2 months.