Whenever I throw a bash, a happy hour with neighbors, or have a few pals over, I’m all about slinging out a cheese board with more themes than a Netflix series marathon. Sometimes, we go on a cheese tour de France without leaving the living room. Other times, a blue cheese bonanza will make you feel anything but.

goat cheese rounds stacked with large purple grapes

Today, I’m throwing it all to the goats. Yeah, you heard me – a goat milk cheese board that’s as bold and sassy as it sounds. We’ll start with soft and spreadable varieties and finish with firm and you-need-a-good-knife-to-cut-it cheeses.

Goat cheese is about to make your happy hour legendary. Let’s get into how to rock this theme like you invented it

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The Ancient Roots of Goat Cheese

Let’s step back in time — way back to 8,000 BC — when goats weren’t just adorable farm animals but key players in the dawn of agriculture. Around 10,000 years ago, our ancestors had the bright idea to domesticate these hardy creatures, primarily for their milk, marking goats as one of the earliest domesticated animals. Fast forward to 5,000 BC, and we find the craft of cheese-making taking shape, with goat cheese starring in the show. Chèvre, anyone?

goat cheese wheels aging in a cave
Roger Sherman

Crafting the Perfect Goat Cheese Board

When assembling the ultimate goat cheese board, I think about setting the stage for a play where each cheese is a star performer. Since goat cheeses are usually pale colors, I bring the scene to life with parchment paper cheese leaves.

I also make little signs naming each cheese to guide my guests on this culinary adventure. As for the stage itself, whether it’s a rustic wooden board, an elegant marble slab, or a spacious platter, I’ve got them all.

And let me tell you, there have been times when the cheese lineup was so epic that I had to bring out every board in my arsenal!

Rustic wooden board with cheeses, fruits and nuts
Valentyn Volkov

Chèvre

It’s the quintessential soft goat cheese from France – creamy, spreadable, and tangy.

Humboldt Fog

This U.S. soft cheese is a masterpiece. With a line of edible ash, it offers a complex, tangy flavor.

Crottin de Chavignol

This French cheese is firm on the outside and creamy on the inside. Its nutty flavor intensifies as it ages.

Valençay

Soft with an ash rind, it has a uniquely tangy, slightly nutty taste. It’s made in France’s Loire Valley.

Sainte-Maure de Touraine

From France — soft, with a distinctive straw center, it offers a subtle tanginess.

Caprino

This creamy yet firm Italian cheese offers a delightfully mild and slightly tart taste.

Bucheron

Another French staple, this one has a luscious contrast of creamy and firm textures and a tangy flavor.

Pantaleo

A firm cheese from Italy that’s aged yet sweet, with floral notes.

Garrotxa

This firm and moist cheese comes from Spain and is known for its creamy texture and nutty taste.

Midnight Moon

This hard, aged cheese from the U.S. has a smooth texture and a sweet, nutty flavor.

Queijo de Cabra Transmontano

This robust hard cheese from Portugal has a sharp, complex flavor and a slightly crumbly texture.

Goat Gouda

A smooth, semi-hard cheese from the Netherlands with sweet, nutty flavors and a creamy finish.

slices of humboldt fog goat cheese with the ash center
Source

Mastering the Art of Wine and Cheese Pairing

Wine and cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly. When wine and cheese come together, they heighten each other’s flavors.

The right wine can accentuate the subtlest flavors in a cheese, while a carefully chosen cheese can bring out the hidden notes in a wine. From the crisp freshness of a white to the deep resonance of a red and the joyful bubbles of a sparkling, each pairing is an adventure in taste.

Let’s explore some delish wine selections that promise to complement our goat cheese journey perfectly, making your next happy hour an unforgettable experience.

stacked cheese with a bottle of red wine in the background
Alex "Big Dodzy"

Sparkling Wine

Prosecco — Its light, fruity, and slightly sweet profile makes it a fantastic match for both soft and semi-hard goat cheeses. The bubbles cleanse the palate, making every bite as yummy as the first.

Champagne —This pairing works particularly well with softer goat cheeses, which can benefit from the acidity and bubbles of Champagne to balance their tangy, creamy profiles. It’s a classic combo that brings a touch of elegance and celebration to any goat cheese tasting!

White Wines

Sauvignon Blanc — Its crisp acidity and citrus notes make it a delightful match for softer goat cheeses like Chèvre and Humboldt Fog, cutting through the creaminess while complementing the tanginess.

Chenin Blanc — With its versatile profile ranging from sweet to dry, it pairs wonderfully with various goat cheeses, especially those with a slight sweetness or nutty flavor, such as Crottin de Chavignol.

Red Wines

Pinot Noir — This light-bodied red, with its subtle fruit notes and a hint of earthiness, is a classic pairing for goat cheese, especially firmer varieties like Midnight Moon, where its delicate flavors don’t overpower the cheese.

Cabernet Franc — Slightly more robust with notes of dark berries and a hint of herbaceousness, it complements aged goat cheeses beautifully, offering a balance to the sharper notes of cheeses like Queijo de Cabra Transmontano.

Rosé

Provence Rosé — Its bright acidity and hints of red fruit bridge the gap between red and white wines, making it versatile enough to pair with the entire range of goat cheeses, from creamy and tangy to firm and nutty. A great example of this wine is Whispering Angel.

4 wines for tasting with cheeses and crackers
Chelsea Pridham

Accompaniments

For a goat cheese tasting that leans into the cheese’s distinct, sometimes barnyardy flavors, I’d aim for milder yet rich accompaniments.

Here’s a list of recommended additions that would complement the cheese beautifully, enhancing the overall tasting experience:

Prosciutto — Its delicate, sweet, and slightly salty flavor pairs perfectly with the creamy texture of goat cheese, adding a lovely contrast without overpowering the cheese.

Figs (Fresh or Dried) — Their natural sweetness and slight chewiness offer a delightful counterpoint to the tangy and creamy nature of goat cheeses, especially when paired with hard varieties.

Honeycomb — A drizzle of honey or a small piece of honeycomb adds a sweetness that enhances the natural flavors of the cheese, especially with aged goat cheeses.

Marcona Almonds — Lightly salted and roasted, these almonds add a crunchy texture and a buttery flavor that complements the cheese without competing with it.

Artisanal Bread and Crackers—Use simple, lightly flavored breads and crackers as a base to let the flavors of the goat cheese shine through.

Olives — While briny, choosing milder varieties of olives can add a nice savory note that complements the goat cheese without overwhelming it. Look for Castelvetrano olives for their buttery, nutty flavor.

Pear Slices — The sweet, slightly floral taste of pears, particularly when ripe, pairs beautifully with the tanginess of fresh goat cheese.

PRO TIP: Did you notice there were no grapes on my list? They look gorgeous on a cheese board, but I picked up an essential tip from wine experts during my visits to Napa and Santa Ynez Valleys.

Fresh grapes, it turns out, can interfere with the wine-tasting experience. The recommendation? Leave them off your cheese plate. It’s a small change that makes a big difference in enjoying the subtle nuances of your wine and cheese pairings.

a large wheel of cheese aging in the cave
Jonathan Taylor

As we wrap up this journey through the savory world of goat cheese, it’s clear that the right pairings can transform your happy hour into a gourmet experience. Whether you’re a seasoned cheese aficionado or just starting to discover the yumminess of goat cheese, gathering friends and loved ones to share in this culinary adventure is always a fun time!

Cheese Tasting Tools

What’s a cheese tasting without the right tools to make it unforgettable? Fear not—I’ve got you covered. Consider this your starter kit for hosting a gathering that will be talked about long after the last piece of cheese has been savored.

So, what are you waiting for? Experience the world of goat cheese with confidence and flair. The perfect happy hour is just a click away. Cheers to good cheese, great wine, and even better company!

Keep Dancing, Darlene