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'Tis the Season for Cheesin’

November 24, 2023

'Tis the Season for Cheesin’
Whether hosting a few friends on the fly or a festive get-together of grand proportions, planning a great party is easy when you invite artisanal treasures from The State of Cheese. They turn any gathering into a memorable occasion, each distinct with refined flavors and insider stories that’ll be fun to share with your guests as they graze. Be the host with the most delectable appetizers, cheese pairings and gifts. It’s all right here; there are cheeses for every need and everyone. Enjoy a holly, jolly holiday with these entertaining essentials.

overhead view of women around table of cheese and cookies

Great Parties Start with Great Cheeses

Here in Wisconsin, we know stocking your fridge with artisanal cheeses is the best way to bring any party to life. Spin your favorite seasonal recipes with a brilliant Alpine beauty to top crostini, an aged gouda-style stunner for stuffing mushrooms and a melty brie so exquisite it deserves to be center stage at your holiday table. And you’ll want to have a few extra foodie favorites like dreamy, milky mascarpone, mild colby and buttery butterkäse on hand. They’re the secret sauce for effortless entertaining and ensure impressing partygoers is stress-free. So make a list and check it twice for cheeses no party can be without!

Eat Cheese, Drink and Be Merry

Let these cheeses be the center of your celebrations. Each has its own unforgettable story, too. They’re delicious and versatile. Use them on cheese boards and in recipes, pairings and homemade gifts with ease.

Go-To Cheese Shopping List:

  • Koepke Family Farms LaBelle
  • Roth Grand Cru® Surchoix
  • Schroeder Käse Triple Creme Brie
  • Henning’s Colby
  • Widmer’s Aged Brick
  • Decatur Dairy Butterkäse
  • BelGioioso Mascarpone

Learn more about these featured cheeses and how to share them in the elegant eats and bold bites shown below.

Grand Cru® Surchoix crostinis

Grand Cru® Surchoix by Roth Cheese

It wears the crown of World Champion. This artisan, washed-rind, alpine-style cheese is handmade in traditional copper vats. Carefully selected wheels are aged a minimum of nine months in cellars to develop a firm texture and complex flavors of caramel, fruit and mushroom.

Make itGrand Cru® Surchoix Cheese Crostini

Labelle cheese stuffed mushrooms

Labelle by Koepke Family Farms

A Wisconsin Original, LaBelle means “the beautiful” in French, admiringly describing this aged cheese made with milk from Koepke's fifth-generation dairy. Experience the family’s heritage in every bite. Indulge in this gouda-style cheese that’s buttery and tangy with a hint of fruitiness. 

Make it: LaBelle Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms

Caramel triple creme brie

Triple Creme Brie by Schroeder Käse

One of just a few soft-ripened Wisconsin wheels, this triple cream brie offers a lush, spreadable interior and an edible bloomy rind. Each batch is crafted with extra heavy cream for a velvety texture and buttery flavor. It’s decadent with earthy mushroom notes and ranges from mild to full and aromatic, depending on age.

Make it: Caramel Triple Creme Brie 

Common jar-contained pantry staples

Take Stock of What You Have

A party that’s classy yet simple to plan starts in your pantry. Check for ingredients you may already have to inspire and create an epic cheese plate or several pairings. Let your taste buds be your guide.

Pairing Cheeses

Explore matching similar tastes and contrasting ones. Dried fruits and condiments like preserves provide a sweet counterpoint to tangy or salty cheeses and enhance the fruity flavors in others. Amplify the nutty notes of swiss and aged gouda with roasted nuts. Savor the buttery notes of butterkäse and LaBelle with buttery holiday cookies. Arrange young and aged cheeses with assorted candies and chocolates.

Brighten Bites with a Touch of Acidity

Cut through the butterfat and rich mouthfeel of cheeses with acidity. Condiments like mustard and olive tapenade are excellent foils for buttery cheeses. Chutneys add sweet-tangy flavors and pops of color to bites. Pickled vegetables like cornichons or green beans are ideal partners for aged alpine styles and brick, helping to refresh the palate.

Pack a Punch with Crunch

Complement the creaminess of the cheeses with textural contrast. Crackers are great for cleansing palates, as well as for spreading on softer cheeses. And don’t forget about thin breadsticks, crostini, gourmet popcorn and even potato chips. Toffees, nuts, snack mixes and brittles come in various flavors—sea salt, spiced, caramelly sweet and more.

Kasseri cheese and pinot noir

Wine + Wedges

Spend less time wandering the wine aisle and commit to two can’t-miss, crowd-pleasing wines in red and white varietals. Choose a mild wine lower in tannins, such as a fruity, light-bodied Beaujolais or light- to medium-bodied pinot noir, if you’re looking for a red that plays well with most cheeses. Riesling is a fine choice for white wine. It has ample acidity with a crisp finish and is virtually one-size-fits-all for pairing with cheeses.

Havarti cheese and riesling

Throw an Instant Party with Cheese Pairings

Let guests customize their bites! Create magic in minutes with the artisan cheeses and clever ingredients with the following combos

Colby cheese with sausage and jar of mustard on plate

Henning's Colby
A sweeter, milder cousin of cheddar, colby is a Wisconsin Original. Henning’s Colby won Best of Class at the 2012 and 2004 World Championship Cheese and 2007 U.S. Championship Cheese Contests. When this premium cheese is crafted, the curds are stirred and rinsed with cold water while in the vat. Then, the curds are pressed and aged for one to three months, yielding a softer, easy-eating cheese with a more open texture. Discover this perfect choice for snacking and sharing.

Brick cheese with dilly beans and apricot preserves on plate

Widmer's Aged Brick
Joe Widmer is the only cheesemaker in the country producing authentic, washed-rind brick cheese. His highly lauded brick is deliciously mild and buttery when young, with just a bit of nuttiness. It reaches peak pungency after three to five months of aging. Joe’s favorite? He prefers to eat brick after 10 to 12 weeks of aging. The result is a cheese with a heady aroma and pleasant, earthy flavor that intensifies with age. Accoutrements with crunch and ones with acidity balance its smooth, creamy texture.

Roth Gran Cru cheese with salami and wasabi peas on plate

Roth Grand Cru® Surchoix
This small-batch, handcrafted cheese is one of the best of the best. Named the 2016 World Champion, winning among 3,000 entries and marking the first time an American-made cheese won the World Championship Cheese Contest in nearly three decades. It’s complex and robust, with an intense brothy flavor enriched with caramelized onion notes. This full-bodied cheese pairs beautifully with sweet, salty and savory sidekicks.

Butterkase cheese with kettle corn, honey and prosseco on plate

Decatur Dairy Butterkäse
This specialty’s name translates to “butter cheese” in German, as butterkäse was first made by a German cheesemaker in 1928. It’s a fitting description. Butterkäse is beloved for its delicate, buttery flavor and appearance. This mild gem is sophisticated and luscious with a soft, almost spreadable texture. Savor a delightful trio of taste and texture when you pair it with sparkling wine, charcuterie and spicy-sweet honey.

Holiday cheeses on black display stands

Charm Guests with Special Touches

Look, it’s a feast for the eyes! Simple ideas give the illusion of an impressive spread but with little work. Pedestal serving trays elevate visual interest with different heights, while chalkboard cheese labels add whimsy and help to navigate cheese offerings. For an extra festive touch, craft cones from gift wrapping paper to make cheesy bites that partygoers can pick up and enjoy while socializing.

It’s the season of giving! And the best things come in small packages. Send loved ones on their way with a favorite fromage and chocolate tasting wrapped in cellophane and tied with a colorful ribbon. There are no wrong combos. Here are a few to try:

  • Colby + Milk Chocolate-Covered Pretzels
  • Butterkäse + Dark Chocolates or Fruity Chocolates
  • Grand Cru® Surchoix + Caramel Chocolates
  • LaBelle + Toffee or Nutty Chocolates

Ready, Set, Prep

Get ahead of the game when you use these tips for prepping cheeses:

  • To ensure a striking presentation and help your guests serve themselves, chunk hard cheeses and cut softer ones into small wedges, triangles, slices and batons.
  • Cheese and charcuterie taste best when consumed at room temperature. Remove both from the refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. They can be left at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
  • Once opened, high-moisture soft cheeses usually last one week covered in the refrigerator, while low-moisture aged cheeses can be wrapped and refrigerated for two to three weeks.

Two women standing behind kitchen island counter with cheese plates on it

Bring it Home with Signature Cocktails

Cheese-spiked martinis? Of course! Mascarpone is indulgent yet known for its light, sweet flavor. Because it’s so mild, creamy and nuanced, it blends seamlessly into these cocktails, melding the liqueurs and adding silky texture. In 1990, BelGioioso ® Cheese became the first American company to produce this specialty in the United States and is now the largest producer of authentic Italian mascarpone in the nation. Rich in history and flavor, this fresh Italian delicacy is a must-try!

Creamy mascarpone martinis with peppermint flakes on rim of glasses

Make it: Creamy Mascarpone Martinis


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