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Cheeses are delicious when served with wine, fruit, nuts and bread, can be served with every course in a meal, or can make a meal itself. All cheeses are made from salt and rennet that is mixed with cow, sheep, or goat milk. The mixture is then aged and sometimes flavored with wine or herbs. It is the art of the cheese maker that determines the wide variety of textures and flavors that result from this process. Artisanal cheeses are those that are handmade in small quantities. They are increasingly available on line or through catalogs.

The following should be considered when buying cheese:

  • Remove cheese from the refrigerator at least an hour before serving to allow the flavor to develop.
  • For a cheese plate at the end of a meal, buy three to five cheeses with different flavors and textures. An ounce of each cheese per person is a good quantity.
  • Serve cheese with neutral flavored bread or crackers that will not interfere with the flavor of the cheese. Blue cheeses should be served with fruited whole wheat breads that contrast with the saltiness of the blues.
  • Milder cheeses should be eaten before stronger tasting varieties.
  • Coarse textured breads can be used to cleanse the palate for the next cheese course.

Experiment with wines when serving cheeses to find combinations you like. Generally, the stronger the cheese flavor, the more full bodied the wine should be. Dessert wines are wonderful with an after dinner cheese course.

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