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
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 board alone is enough to make you a thing of Valentine’s Day social media legend, and we’ve just gotten started. Some 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, some classic, burnished steel cheese spreaders will have you both seeing platinum. Hint, hint? Up to you.
Out of the Woods of Oregon Heart-Shaped Cutting Board, $24.95 on Amazon
Because nothing says love like cheese served on a heart.
Red Nuance Wine Glasses, 6 for $32.95 on Amazon
For when you need your stemware to match your passion.
5-Piece Cheese Spreader Knife Set, $12.99 on Amazon
These elegant yet every day utensils will have you seeing platinum.
Step Two: The Cheeses
Since the theme of the evening is romance, you’re might want to keep the cheeses on the mild side of funky, saving the wild for elsewhere. (Unless your lover is an aficionado of the dank dairy, in which case: game on!)
An easy principal for a lovely board, unrequiring of any breath mints, is to create balance and variety with one soft cheese, one sweet cheese, and one salty cheese.
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, goudas or Alpine cheeses are both sweet and a little nutty. (An apropos metaphor for love.)
Honey Goat Gouda, $24/lb at Murray's Cheese
This goat milk gouda is washed with honey to bump up the sweetness.
Crumbled Parmigiano-Reggiano fits the bill nicely for classic and salty, or this is where you can up-the-ante into the strong stuff, if “powerful” is also a metaphor you’d like to introduce into your Valentine’s Day celebrations.
Related Reading: How to Learn to Love Blue Cheese
Step Three: The Accoutrements
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, with a variety of colors and textures.
You can keep it simple with prepared meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs. But if you want to show off a little culinary technique, 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.
Finally, a bit of chocolate actually pairs well with salty and strong cheeses. It is still Valentine’s Day, after all.
Nesting Heart Cookie Cutters, 5 for $8.74 on Amazon
Multiple nesting sizes of cookie cutters for all levels of love.
Step Four: The Wines
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.
Ruinart Champagne Brut Rose, $89.99 on Drizly
What's more perfect than tiny bubbles with a pink tint?
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 goat cheeses, an earthy Cabernet Franc from Chinon for bries and the like, and a honeyed Chenin Blanc from Vouvray for the gouda. Now that you’ve nailed the dinner…
Well, it’s not doing the dishes.
Related Video: How to Decant Wine, According to a Sommelier
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.