This post was sponsored by AVA Grace. All opinions are my own
Wine and cheese. Basically the peanut butter and jelly of adulthood. And my favorite way to celebrate the end of the week (or the beginning of the week, the middle of the week, a day that ends in ‘Y’ during the week).
So when I got the chance to partner up with AVA Grace Vineyards, I knew I had to share my favorite duo.
While I’ve always been into the wine portion, in the last couple years I’ve become enamored with the cheese portion. Last year I made my first fancy cheese board for Thanksgiving, and now it’s one of my favorite ways to entertain. Mostly because it’s fits my, last-minute procrastinator personality to a T. No complicated recipes, no time-consuming prep work, just hit up the grocery, run around assembling your favorites and then style it up. Then swing over to the wine store and pick up a couple bottles. Done and done.
Seriously, you can invite your girl friends over for happy hour at 3, get off work at 5, run to the store and have the whole thing prepped and ready by 6:30.
I know that may seem easier than it sounds so I thought I’d share my shopping list and which AVA Grace wines I pick for the perfect happy hour with girlfriends that hopefully lasts into the night.
When it comes to assembling the perfect cheese board, I start with the wine. I love to have a white and red option on hand but since I’m also a sucker for Rosé all year long, especially paired with charcuterie, I’ve been subbing my white for it. Since a lot of my girl friends love a red, I’ve been keeping Merlot and a Pinot Noir on hand too. I’ve loved all the AVA Grace options I’ve tried and not just because the bottle looks so pretty on any table but because the flavors are on point. The Rosé is crisp, light and not too sweet (which is my biggest issue with most Rosés). And while I love the bottle, the same great wine is also available in cans that’s great for taking on the go. The Merlot is the right mix of richness without being overwhelming or too tart. The flavors of black cherry, plum and blueberry also make for a solid charcuterie pairing.
Style Your Charcuterie
Now onto the cheese board. First things first, it’s super helpful to have a nice size board to work with. I break out this marble one out all the time because it’s pretty big (but also super heavy so not great if you’re moving from room to room). For something a little smaller, I like to use this one. Much lighter and just right for a smaller assortment.
Here’s what goes into my perfect cheese board – full shopping list below.
Start with the Cheese
I like a mix of sweet, savory and spicy. But choose what you like. There’s no point in trying to be fancy and pick a bunch of cheeses only to have everyone just eat the brie or goat cheese. For a centerpiece, I like to pick an herbed or flavored goat cheese since they look so pretty. This one is a cranberry herb goat cheese spread. Just hit up the premium cheese section and look for one of their cheese balls.
Then I add something a little more tart. My choice here was a shaved parmesan. Buy it already shaved to save you prep time.
For sweetness, I added a plain goat cheese. And then I finished things out with a Fontina and a spicy Cheddar. If you go with 3 – 4 different options you’ll have something that fits everyone’s palate. Situate them around the edges so they’re easy to grab and pair.
Add the Meats
This is the easy part. My tip: grab one of the packages with three different options already sliced and ready to go. Pepperoni, salami and prosciutto are always crowd pleasers. Here in Kentucky, some people love to add country ham which is a fun alternative to the traditional Italian meats.
Sweet and Savory Spreads
I love mustard so I never put together a cheese board without it. Pick up some cute serving options,like these little tasting plates, to make it easy for people to serve themselves and even easier to refill as needed. I hate when it’s just left on the board and ends up getting all over people’s hands when they’re reaching across plus it runs into everything on the plate (a big annoyance of mine).
This part is super easy too since you probably already have mustard, jam and honey in your fridge. If you can grab a pepper jelly, that’s always a hit (and is so good with goat cheese and brie) but I just threw some strawberry jam in here that I already had on hand. Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil are another easy option.
I went with grapes, gherkins and marcona almonds – which if you haven’t tried this, grab some next time you’re at the store. They’re pricey but oh so good. I like having something salty like nuts but you can also add roasted red peppers, sliced pickles, bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries or apples. Just throw in whatever you have available.
Bread + Crackers
I like having both. No need to be super fancy. Just pick up a sliced baguette (again, here for the time saving) and a box of crackers. Make sure to pick ones that won’t crumble really easily. I like these stone wheat ones since you can make a strong stack on them. Some people like to throw these on the board but I like to keep them seperate so you have more room for all the charcuterie goodness.
Make it Festive
Since it’s fall, I added a little white pumpkin. At the holidays, you could add a sprig of fir or mistletoe. Basically, I just walk around my house looking for something decorative to add so I can pretend that I am some sort of domestic goddess that planned it all out.
Seriously, you can spend 10 minutes in the grocery, pick up all of these and be ready for a girl’s night in no time. One of my least favorite parts of entertaining is feeling like you have to constantly be in the kitchen, prepping and serving off and on the whole time. This way, you can get everything together in about 15 minutes, set it out and be done. The only thing I want to worry about while entertaining is making sure everyone’s wine glass is full.
- Wine – My picks: AVA Grace Rosé and Merlot
- Cheese Spread – My Pick: Cranberry Herbed Goat Cheese
- Assortment of 3 – 5 Cheeses – My Picks: Shaved Parmesan, Fontina, Habanero Cheddar, Goat Cheese, Gouda
- Assortment of 2 – 3 Meats – My Picks: Hard Genoa Salami, Pepperoni, Uncured Pepper Salami
- Spreads – My Picks: Honey, Strawberry Basil Jam, Dijon Mustard
- Snacks – My Picks: Sweet Gherkins, Marcona Almonds, Green Grapes
- Bread – My Picks: Water Crackers, Stone Wheat Crackers, Sliced Baguette