While there's no easy template to lay over all of your intended gift recipients, there are a few rules of thumb for giving cheese as a gift. Like very special wines, specialty cheeses should be given sparingly and with the right appreciative person in mind. Just as the Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in the store would be a wonderful wine gift for the right person, likewise, the Speziato al Tartuffo from Italy, being a masterful cheese creation, needs a very special person to appreciate it.
As with our preceding post on wine gifting, knowing your recipient is paramount. Is he/she adventurous? Do they go to the same restaurant all of the time or do they branch out? If you know they like Havarti, don't automatically assume they like Havarti with spices or any of a number of cheeses that may look like Havarti but are a bit stronger.
If your intended is a male appreciator of fine brewed beverages, a safe cheese gift may be sharp cheddar, pepper cheese, or Gouda. While all of these can be had in the $10-$20/lb range and most of them would be every day quality, this store has connoisseur quality examples of each and that's what we recommend for this holiday. Cheese to avoid for this person: Brie.
If you're buying for a wine-loving woman with accrued fine tastes, that wedge of French Brie might be a perfect fit. Branching out may involve Camembert, Taleggio, Brie with herbs/spices (mushrooms!), Port Salut, or any of a number of the many other fine French soft ripeners. This recipient is one to be both coddled and stretched within reasonable parameters.
If you're buying for the kids, the obvious recommendation is the Chocolate Cheese; otherwise it's garden variety Cheddar, Havarti, or Gouda. Now if the kid is palate-gifted like some who come in here, all bets are off and it's your call. Cheeses to avoid for most kids: blues and pepper cheese.
As we are writing this post, we are concurrently putting together our next cheese order from the New York importer and keeping the holiday season in mind, this may be the way to go on the subject. Actually forget all of what's written above and here is what you need to know: On Thursday's delivery we are expecting Reggiano Parmesan, Lincet de Bourgogne Triple Cream Brie, Notre Dame French Brie (our go-to), Barber's English Cheddar, Harlech Welsh Cheddar with Horseradish, Havarti and Havarti with Caraway, Reggianito (Argentine Parmesan, another go-to), Gruyere or a similar alternative, Rosey Goat, and a creamy blue. Buy anything from this order and forget the personality profiling above. Just remember to tell your recipient that the cheeses need to be refrigerated and not put under the tree!
This Thursday (!) between 5 and 7pm, David Rimmer with Lynda Allison Cellar Selections joins us with choices from his incredible book of European dinner wines for an expansive tasting of the best wines on the market. David has more time in this business than I do so don't miss this opportunity. Along with being an authority on the subject of fine wine, David is a great guy. Please join us!