• Cheese platters are a global classic whose appeal lies in the rich variety of flavours, textures, and pairings.
  • Its popularity at gatherings can be attributed to its social and aesthetic aspects, contributing to an engaging culinary experience.
  • Try any cheese platter ideas below to create an individualized appetizer or snack.
  • Award-winning cookbook author Neo Nontso shared with readers tips on how to pair wines or beverages with different cheeses.

A well-arranged cheese platter typically consists of various cheeses with complementary accompaniments. An ideal charcuterie board should feature multiple items catering to different tastes.

Tips from Chef

Award-winning cookbook author Neo Nontso shared with readers tips on how to pair wines or beverages with different cheeses and general guidelines to follow:

Always start with wines and beverages that are accessible and easy to find.
  1. Mild cheeses like Swiss cheese or Gouda go well with mild wines like white wine.
  2. Strong cheeses like blue cheese and aged cheddar pair well with strong wines like red wine.

This is a basic guideline but this can be advanced through smell and taste of flavours.

Simple cheese platter ideas in South Africa

A South African-inspired cheese platter provides the perfect way to showcase the rich flavours of local cheeses. You can customize the ingredients for a more personalized experience.

1. Classic South African cheese platter

Make a cheeseboard that ensures the fusion of local flavours and textures the country offers. For the cheese selection, you can have boerenkaas, Klein Rivier gruyere, and blue rock or blue vein cheese.

Add local accompaniments like biltong, apricot, watermelon, peppadews, rooibos-infused honey, and seed crackers. Serve with macadamia nuts or Marcona almonds for extra texture. Garnish with indigenous flowers and fresh herbs for added visual appeal and fragrance.

2. Cape Winelands platter

Cape Winelands-inspired charcuterie board ideas allow you to highlight the region's flavourful cheeses and wines. The cheese selection can include Fairview Blue Tower, local variations of brie or camembert, and Klein Rivier gouda.

Ideal accompaniments for the platter include biltong, wine grapes, roosterkoek, and apricot chutney. Add sliced fresh fruits like pears, apples, and berries. Pair it with the best wine from the region, including Pinotage and Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc.

3. Spicy fusion platter

Add heat and excitement to your charcuterie board for a spicy experience. Suitable cheese for this platter includes peppered goat cheese, chakalaka cheddar, and per-peri havarti. Incorporate spiced droewors and biltong bites.

The board can have assorted accompaniments like guacamole, mango pickle, and chutney. Add macadamia nuts for extra crunchiness and fresh fruit slices for a sweet and refreshing contrast.

4. Herb-infused platter

Create a herb-infused charcuterie board with assorted cheese varieties like Cape herb gouda, basil and garlic cream cheese, and herb-infused goat cheese. Add herb-marinated olives, rooibos-infused honey, green fig preserves, and olive oil crackers. It can be served in bunny chow bites, buchu leaf wraps, or rooibos-infused cheese-stuffed peppadews.

5. Mediterranean and South African twist platter

Enjoy the best of two worlds with a Mediterranean-inspired cheese platter with a South African twist. You will need feta with sundried tomatoes, Havarti with Mediterranean herbs, and Cape Wineland's halloumi for the cheese selection.

The platter can also have bresaola, prosciutto-wrapped grissini, kalamata olives, hummus with olive oil, and artichoke hearts. Incorporate fresh fruits like figs and grapes for extra sweetness. You can add nuts for extra crunch and then garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Fruit and cheese platter ideas

A fruit and cheese platter offers a delightful way to balance savoury and sweet flavours. Get inspired with these charcuterie board ideas.

6. Tropical paradise

A tropical paradise board offers a variety of flavours with a tropical touch. Incorporate different cheese types, including brie, manchego, goat cheese, camembert, and blue cheese. Add various accompaniments like nuts, honey, crackers, dried fruits, fresh mint leaves, and chutneys. Arrange the items on a platter and serve chilled.

7. Citrus burst

A citrus burst board combines the creamy richness of cheeses with the zesty flavours of citrus fruits. For the cheeses, you will need goat cheese, burrata, blue cheese, and citrus-flavoured creamy cheese.

Add a variety of citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, limes and lemons, and mandarins or clementines. Serve with assorted accompaniments, including honey, toasted almonds, and crackers. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve chilled.

8. Berry bliss

A berry bliss charcuterie board features the sweetness of various berries, including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. The cheese selection should include cottage, blue cheese, mascarpone, goat cheese, and brie.

Arrange the ingredients in a visually stunning display. You can add candied nuts for a sweet and crunchy element. Drizzle honey and balsamic glaze and then garnish with fresh mint leaves. Serve at room temperature.

9. Apple and cheese platter

An apple and cheese charcuterie board offers a mix of sweet, tart, and savoury flavours. An ideal cheese selection should incorporate sharp cheddar, gouda, blue cheese, and brie, while the apples can include Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Fuji, and gala.

Add nuts for a complementary crunchy texture and dried fruits for an extra chewy element. Drizzle with honey and then garnish with chopped herbs like rosemary or thyme. The dessert is best served at room temperature.

10. Mediterranean fruit and cheese delight

A Mediterranean-themed platter is the right choice if you are looking for a unique appetizer. For the cheese, you can combine feta, halloumi, manchego, and labneh, while the fruits can include grapes, figs, pomegranate seeds, and dates.

For accompaniments, you can have kalamata olives, hummus, baba ghanoush, marinated artichoke hearts, and toasted pitta bread. Serve with selected fresh ingredients like cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, and fresh mint leaves. Serve at room temperature.

Cheese and cracker platter ideas

Cheese and cracker platters offer a rich blend of flavours, textures, and visual appeal, making them ideal for various events. These ideas will help you create a personalized charcuterie board.

11. Gourmet blue cheese platter

The distinct taste of blue cheese makes this platter idea a sophisticated and flavourful option. Ideal blue cheese includes Roquefort, gorgonzola dolce, stilton, and Cashel blue. The crackers selection should have pecan crackers, rye crisps, multigrain crackers, and crostini.

Add assorted accompaniments like honeycomb, fig jam, candied nuts, fresh and dried fruits, Serrano ham, and toasted baguette slices. Serve at room temperature.

12. Smoked and spicy platter

A smoked and spicy platter offers a dynamic combination of textures and is an excellent choice if you enjoy bold and savoury flavours. Combine a selection of smoked cheeses, including gouda, blue cheese, mozzarella, and applewood smoked cheddar.

You can have pepper jack, habanero jack, chipotle gouda, and Havarti for the spicy cheeses. Add spicy crackers and accompaniments like pickles, mustard, hot honey, and chutney. Enhance the variety by adding smoked almonds, dried sausage, cherry tomatoes, and fresh grapes.

13. Spanish tapas board

A Spanish tapas board offers a delightful dining experience that combines the rich and diverse flavours of Spanish cuisine. For the cheeses, you can have manchego, Mahon, cabrales, and Dianabol, while the crackers can include pan tunica, crispy breadsticks, and Catalan crackers.

Serve with dips and sauces like romesco, aioli, and olive tapenade. Add fresh ingredients like grapes, figs, and cherry tomatoes and then garnish with fresh herbs. Serve at room temperature.

14. Mexican fiesta platter

A Mexican fiesta platter captures the bold and lively flavours of Mexican cuisine while offering various textures. The cheese selection can have queso fresco, manchego, chipotle cheddar, and cotija, while crackers and chips can include tortilla chips, Mexican corn crackers, and jalapeno Jack cheese crackers.

Place chips and crackers at the bottom and then arrange the cheeses and other toppings. Place the salsas, dips, and sliced jalapenos in small bowls and place them around the board.

15. Rustic Italian

Rustic Italian cheeseboard platter ideas celebrate Italian cuisine's simple yet bold and authentic flavours. Ideal cheeses for the board include parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino toscano, gorgonzola, and fontina. For the crackers and bread, you can incorporate grissini, taralli, crostini, and focaccia.

Enhance the texture and flavour with various accompaniments like prosciutto di parma, bresaola, marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, castelvetrano olives, and grilled vegetables. Ensure extra freshness by adding grapes, cherry tomatoes, and fig jam. Serve at room temperature.

Wine and cheese platter ideas

Wine and cheese pairing offers a delightful way to experience complementary flavours and textures. The key is to ensure a balanced platter.

16. Aged and intense platter

The cheese selection can include extra aged gouda, pecorino romano, gorgonzola piccante, and parmigiano-reggiano.

Incorporate assorted accompaniments like aged balsamic vinegar, dark chocolate, crackers and bread, and toasted hazelnuts. For the wine pairing, you can have Barolo, Port, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Amontillado Sherry. Serve at room temperature.

17. Rustic French elegance

Rustic French elegance captures the essence of French culinary sophistication with the charm of a rustic presentation. Combine an assortment of French cheeses including brie de meaux, camembert, roquefort, comte, and chevre.

You can have sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon, and sweet wine for the wine pairing.

18. Italian wine and cheese extravaganza

This platter idea provides an excellent way to experience Italy's rich and diverse flavours. Combine a selection of different Italian cheeses including parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino toscano, gorgonzola dolce, fontina, and taleggio.

Famous Italian wines include Barolo, Chianti Classico, Prosecco, and Amarone.

What should be in a cheese platter?

Here are tips on what to incorporate:

  • 3-5 different types of cheeses
  • A variety of crackers and bread
  • Various fresh and dried fruits
  • Nuts to add a crunchy texture
  • Cured meats like salami, prosciutto, and chorizo
  • Assorted spreads and condiments like olive tapenade, mustard, honey, and jams.

What else can you put on a cheeseboard?

Some additional items to place on the board include:

  • Fresh berries, herbs, and edible flowers
  • Pickled vegetables and olives
  • Sweet additions like dark chocolate and dried fruit

How do you make a budget-friendly charcuterie board?

Create an affordable charcuterie board without compromising on variety by considering the following:

  • Select fruits and vegetables that are in season because they are more affordable.
  • DIY pickles and spreads
  • Repurpose leftovers like cheeses, meats, and condiments

Try the above cheese platter ideas for a delightful appetizer or snacking experience. The board's appeal lies in the versatility of the ingredients, ensuring a diverse combination to cater to different tastes. shared a list of the best affordable meat platter ideas in South Africa. The meal is often served as an appetizer or as part of a more extensive spread at social gatherings.

The board should feature classic South African meats like boerewors, biltong, and droewors. Check the article for more on preparing an ideal meat platter with a local touch.

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