Holidays…The Season to Explore Cheeses

Nov 26, 2023 | Seasonal

It’s the Holiday Cheese Season so cheese cases at your local market are burgeoning with cheese wonders, both old favorites and new arrivals. November and December are the best months of the year to explore new flavors and seasonal Fall classics. Time to find old cheese friends that are now back in stock. Increased customer demands mean an expanded selection. If you’ve been wanting to try some new flavors, this is the time. Cheesemongers (knowledgeable cheese buyers) have been preparing for this season since late summer when they attended trade shows that introduced this year’s offerings and ordered them to sell now.  Ask your cheesemonger what’s new or what they’re excited about.  Trust you’ll have a great find or two. Try a small bit to try. 1/4 lb. Keep a journal of what you like so you can remember it for the next time.

Every year there are new arrivals, never before seen in the U.S such as Pitch Fork Cheddar from England imported by Fine Cheese Co with its rich savory character.  Stilton is only made by a few producers and at its best in late Fall. If you want a classic blue, this is the one! (Colston Bassett producer is my favorite). Whether you serve it traditionally with Port or paired with walnuts and apple chutney and a rich Syrah, you’re in for the true treat.  Fall’s aged Alpine cheeses arrive from mountains and special pastures: washed-rind Raclette (France), barked-wrapped L’Edel de Cleron (Switzerland) and our American version, Harbison (Vermont) is finding its fan club. Soft reds and whites both pair well.

American cheesemakers are emulating cheesemaking styles of old European cheeses with great success.  While European shoppers are mostly limited to their own national cheeses, we Americans have the luxury of having access to a wide variety. We can be “omnivore” cheese buyers and it’s especially true at year end.  Invite friends for a relaxed cheese party with your choices. My book CHEESE LOVES WINE offers details of wines and food matches so you can feel confident in serving the best pairings. Happy Cheese & Wine Holidays 2023.