New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, meaning that for those of us whose employers observe federal holidays (most of us, we hope), we have an extra day to recover from our champagne-soaked New Year’s Eve parties before heading to the office on January 3. While in theory, New Year’s Day is the perfect day to start working towards a resolution or to take the new year by the horns, most people take the opportunity to marathon Netflix series, snuggle on the couch, and bask in the afterglow of the holiday season.
We’re here to propose a happy medium between the two: keep celebrating. We’ve discovered that New Year’s Day is great for getting together with friends for a few reasons: everyone’s off from work, few people have big plans, and group-vegging just feels better than staying in bed all day. Add a few good bottles of wine, and it becomes a civilized coda to a usually crazy holiday.
Plus, when you’re known as The Cheese Twins (as we are), people expect delicious snacks. We spent 4 years studying with some of Europe’s leading cheesemakers, learning all about how cheese is made and aged, and now we’re a two man go-to team for our friends and family. Here’s our advice for making a cozy spread of comfort food for a New Year’s Day wine and cheese party.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew
It’s a new year; take on a task you can achieve. Pick out four to six cheeses to keep the wine pairings simple and to avoid overwhelming your guests. Pick two wines, a white and a red, to please most palates and keep the conversation going. We like wines with mouth-watering texture and great flavors like Meiomi Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Keep the complements coming
With wine and cheese, like goes with like. So if your red wine is fruity and jammy with a little spice, look for savory cheeses like the world’s greatest Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, or decadent blue cheeses like Rogue Creamery’s Caveman Blue. On the other hand, if your white wine is creamy like Meiomi Chardonnay, look a creamy cheese like Nicasio Valley Cheese Company’s Foggy Morning or an aged cheddar (which tends to have a fudgy texture on the tongue), like Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.
Make it easy for guests to serve themselves
One question we’ve heard more than anything else is about how to prepare a cheese board. We’re strong advocates of cutting cheeses into servings before laying out the board. It prevents guests from having to chop away at hunks of cheese, ensures everyone’s slices will be the same (perfect) size, and prevents any serving mistakes (like scooping out a wheel of cheese from the inside, which always leaves a sad and limp rind).
Commit to a theme of relaxation
People often think that guests will judge them – or worse, grill them – on what they’ve selected for their cheese boards. They won’t. Be confident in your simplicity. A few classic crackers are the best canvas for most cheeses, and won’t throw off any of the wine pairings (a big no-no). Dried apricots and fresh apples go great with creamy cheeses and Chardonnay; dried figs work with most spicy-savory wines like Meiomi Pinot Noir, and fresh bread’s a crowd pleaser every time. Placement of pairings is key. Group pairings so it is obvious which cheese and garnish pairs with which wine. That way if anyone asks you why you chose any component, you can just tell them that they taste great together. They’ll get it.