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Staying in for Valentine’s Day is the new sexy. What’s not sexy is doing dishes. The sensual flavors and textures of cheese? Sexy. Going-for-broke on a bombastic, multi-course home-cooked meal and inevitably lousing up some element of it? Not sexy. Eating with your hands? Sexy. Not eating with your hands? Less sexy. Since we’re on the topic of Valentine’s Day, here’s a proposal (all entendres intended): assemble an elegant, thoughtful cheese board with a few on-theme touches. Pair it with some romantic wines, and voilà! Dinner is served and dishes are all but non-existent, so you can get on with…whatever else the evening has in store for you.

Step One: Supplies

cutting board heart


Begin by impressing your date/betrothed with the fact that you thought ahead on this one. It’s the accessories which will elevate your presentation from a thoughtful, delicious, cheese-based dinner to a thoughtful, delicious, cheese-based dinner with a heart-shaped cheese board! This beautiful olive wood board is anything but tacky; the heart-shape is subtle. This board alone is enough to make you a thing of Valentine’s Day social media legend, and we’ve just gotten started. These fiery red-stemmed wine glasses also fit nicely into the thematic-yet-tasteful category, giving you a streak of ruby but leaving the bowl clear for proper wine evaluation. Meanwhile, these classic, burnished steel cheese spreaders will have you both seeing platinum. Hint, hint? Up to you.

Olive Wood Heart-Shaped Board, $24.99 on Amazon

Because nothing says love like cheese served on a heart.
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Red Nuance Wine Glasses, 6 for $32.95 on Amazon

For when you need your stemware to match your passion.
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5-Piece Cheese Spreader Knife Set, $19.99 on Amazon

These elegant yet every day utensils will have you seeing platinum.
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Step Two: The Cheeses

baked brie with jam and nuts

The Mediterranean Dish

Since the theme of the evening is romance, you’re going to want to keep the cheeses on the mild side of funky, saving the wild for elsewhere. An easy principal for a lovely board, unrequiring of any breath mints, is to create balance and variety with one fresh cheese, one soft cheese, and one firm and sweet cheese. For the fresh cheese component, you can show off a little technique with these Goat-Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers, with the added bonuses of adding a little heat and more red to the equation. (And a serving of vegetables.) For a soft cheese, I love this Baked Brie With Nuts and Jam recipe for extra texture, and because figs should absolutely have a place on your Valentine’s Day menu. (Research suggests these are actually what Eve likely tempted Adam with during the OG seduction.) For a firm cheese, gouda is both sweet and a little nutty (a metaphor for love?) and with a heart-shaped cookie cutter on hand, the red wax seal can certainly be dealt with accordingly.

Nesting Heart Cookie Cutters, 5 for $8.66 on Amazon

Multiple nesting sizes of cookie cutters for all levels of love.
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Step Three: The Accoutrements

port cranberry pear sauce

Flavor The Moments

The devil’s in the details, and whether your intentions for the evening are devilish or angelic, the additional components that grace your cheese board are what can elevate you to truly heavenly in the eyes of your beloved. Again, balance is a principle to abide by, in love as in cheese. A fruit compote nicely accompanies a wide variety of cheese, and you can continue to keep it red with this Port, Cranberry, and Pear Sauce recipe, or if you can get your hands on some, this Roasted Rhubarb Compote recipe. For a dose of savory, this Artichoke Tapenade recipe has nuance of both flavor and theme. How so? Conveniently and not at all coincidentally, the recipe calls for artichoke hearts. Hearts! Finally, since such a thing exists in the world, you might just have to go full on-the-nose with these heart-shaped crackers. Nuance be damned. It’s all about balance anyhow.

Step Four: The Wines

Martha Stewart wine club subscription

Martha Stewart

Depending on how hard you wish to imbibe this holiday, you can approach your wine selections in one of two ways. You can opt for one wine to do it all, in which case a rosé Champagne has everything: class, effervescence, and color palette. If you’re not into the bubbles, an off-dry Riesling brings the right amount of acidity and sweetness to brilliantly pair everything you have going on, including your feelings. Or, if you really want to showcase your one-of-a-kind nature, just about nothing goes as well with cheese as Madeira, just as nothing goes as well with your darling than you. If you’re more about the play-by-play pairings, take it to the Loire Valley and dream of your honeymoon in France: a vivid Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre for the goat cheese, an earthy Cabernet Franc from Chinon for the brie, and a honeyed Chenin Blanc from Vouvray for the gouda. Now that you’ve nailed it…

Step Five…

Well, it’s not doing the dishes.

Check out our Valentine’s Day giveaway on Instagram (three lucky winners will get lots of goodies from Hotel Chocolat)! And get more tips, tricks, and recipes at our Valentine’s Day headquarters, including swoon-worthy Valentine’s Day gift ideas.

Related Video: 5 Unexpected Foods to Serve With Cheese

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