Back

Perfect Pairings

Go beyond crackers. Discover some unexpected combinations that will not only turn everyday snacking into something special, but will also impress your guests.

Pairing Basics

Extra Sharp Cheddar

Sharp Cheddar

Aged Reserve

Vermont White

Create a Perfect Cheese Board Right at Home

Timing is Everything

Cheeses should be pulled out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving to allow them to warm slightly. Cheeses taste best at room temperature.

See More Tips

Mix Multiple Textures

When featuring multiple cheeses on a cheese tray, try to provide a variety in styles, textures and milks. Cheeses from different milks show distinct differences in flavors and aromas.

Slice then Serve

If you plan to slice or cut your cheese before serving, do so as close to serving time as possible.

The Universal Staple

Cheddar is a great anchor for any cheese board. Its popularity and familiar flavor make it a crowd favorite and it provides a great basis for comparison against other cheeses.

Perfect Positioning

When tasting multiple cheeses, they should be ordered in terms of flavor. Start with subtle flavored cheeses, like Camembert, on one end of the cheese board and work toward stronger flavored cheeses, like blue cheeses, at the opposite end.

Full Range Flavor

When preparing a cheese tray for company, a selection of at least 3 cheeses is best to provide a good range of flavors.

Visual Appeal

Leave the rinds on cheeses when serving to provide a dash of color to your cheese tray.

Tasting Tools

Separate knives should be used for cutting or serving any cheese that is particularly soft or full flavored to prevent flavor transfer from one cheese to another.

Download our full cheese pairing PDF for easy pairing ideas (from wine to nuts!) for your perfect cheddar

Download Full Pairing Cheat Sheet

Match the Perfect Wine to the Perfect Cheddar

Cheese White Wine Red Wine Non-Alcoholic
Aged Reserve French Chardonnay Cabernet Sauvignon Arnold Palmer
Vermont Sharp White Riesling Grenache Pineapple Juice/Soda
Extra Sharp Muscato Port Cola
Sharp Fume Blanc Pinot Noir Ginger Beer/Ale
Mediterranean Herb New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Sherry Citrus Drink
Jalapeño Pinot Grigio Zinfandel Sweet Tea
Cracked Black Pepper California Chardonnay French Rhone Strawberry Lemonade
Image Pairing 1 Big Close
Image Pairings 1

Apple, Roasted Fig & Almond Cheese Board

Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar cuts through the luxurious sweet flavors of marcona almonds, roasted figs, fresh-cut apples, and golden honey with delicious results. Mark West Pinot Noir provides a perfect contrast to this pairing with its bright berry notes.

Rate It!

2009 Mark West California Pinot Noir

Tips

To roast figs: Halve the figs and toss with a small amount of olive oil and honey. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the figs soften and begin to caramelize.

Marcona almonds are a variety of almond from Spain with a rich, complex flavor that is sweeter than conventional almonds.

Image Pairing 2 Big Close
Image Pairings 2

Dark Chocolate, Cranberry & Apricot Cheese Board

Bold Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar paired with sweet apricot preserves, tart dried cranberries, and bittersweet dark chocolate provides the perfect flavor balance of sweet, salty, tangy, and rich. These bold accompaniments are matched exquisitely with the fruit forward flavors and cocoa notes found in Robert Mondavi’s Cabernet Sauvignon.

Rate It!

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon

Tips

Dark chocolate is frequently listed by its Cacao content. If you prefer a sweeter dark chocolate, opt for lower cacao content, around 60 to 65%. If you prefer a more bitter dark chocolate, choose something with over 70% cacao.

Image Pairing 3 Big Close
Image Pairings 3

Cinnamon-Sugar and Walnut Cheese Board

Take the traditional pairing of cheddar cheese and apples to another level with the addition of walnuts and cinnamon sugar. Dark red fruit flavors and an underlying earthiness in the Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon provide another classic match to accompany this cheese pairing.

Rate It!

Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon

Tips

Cut your apples immediately before serving to avoid serving browned apples. Avoid using lemon to minimize browning as the lemon flavor could negatively affect the flavors of the pairing.

To make your own cinnamon sugar, combine 1/2 cup of granulated sugar with 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon.

Image Pairing 4 Big Close
Image Pairings 4

Pineapple, Pistachio & Honey Cheese Board

Honey and pistachio highlight the buttery nuttiness of Cracker Barrel’s Sharp Cheddar while pineapple provides a lively contrast that adds brightness to this unexpected combination. Woodbridge Chardonnay pairs perfectly with flavors of crème brulee and tree fruits.

Rate It!

Robert Mondavi Chardonnay

Tips

If your honey is crystallized, microwaving it briefly can restore it to its original state. Just make sure its packaging is microwave safe.

Image Pairing 5 Big Close
Image Pairings 5

Roasted Red Peppers & Salami Cheese Board

The complexity of Cracker Barrel’s Aged Reserve Cheddar pairs perfectly with rich cured salami and whole grain mustard, while the sweetness of roasted red peppers puts everything in harmony. Woodbridge Riesling rounds out this combination with delicate sweetness and palate cleansing acidity. A decadent flavor combination for an award-winning cheese.

Rate It!

Robert Mondavi Riesling

Tips

Choose thinly-sliced artisanal salami for the best flavor.

Roasted red peppers can be found jarred in most grocery stores.

Image Pairing 6 Big Close
Image Pairings 6

Holiday Fruit & Nut Cheese Board

Perfect for the holidays, this mix of fruit and nuts pairs perfectly with the robust flavor of Aged Reserve Cheddar. A drizzle of maple syrup and honey add a touch of sweetness, while chopped dates and cranberries round out the cheese board. A simple delight for the holidays or any festive gathering.

Rate It!

Tips

Cut your apples immediately before serving to avoid serving browned apples. Avoid using lemon as a way to minimize browning as the lemon flavor could negatively affect the flavors of the pairing.

If your honey is crystallized, microwaving it briefly can restore it to its original state. Just make sure its packaging is microwave safe.

Image Pairing 7 Big Close
Image Pairings 7

Strawberry and Raisin Bread Cheese Board

Strawberries and raisin bread, you ask? Indeed. Sweet and fragrant raisin bread heightens the complexity of Cracker Barrel Aged Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar while strawberries add a burst of freshness. The crisp finish and floral notes of Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio are heightened this exquisite pairing.

Rate It!

Clos du Bois Pinot Grigio

Tips

For best flavor, let cheese stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.

Image Pairing 8 Big Close
Image Pairings 8

Cranberry Preserves, Olive and Prosciutto Cheese Board

Mixed olives, garlic toast and prosciutto provide an exquisite savory match with the bold, sharp flavors of Cracker Barrel Aged Reserve Cheddar, while cranberry preserves lend a touch of sweet and sour to provide balance. Vanilla and melon notes in the Mark West Chardonnay offer another delicious layer of complexity to this luscious pairing.

Rate It!

2010 Mark West Central Coast Chardonnay

Tips

Cut your apples immediately before serving to avoid serving browned apples. Avoid using lemon as a way to minimize browning as the lemon flavor could negatively affect the flavors of the pairing.

Image Pairing 9 Big Close
Image Pairings 9

Strawberry-Basil Cheese Board

The classic flavor combination of strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and basil is heightened by Cracker Barrel Vermont White Cheddar. White chocolate adds a touch of sweetness to complement the berries while black pepper crackers brings a hint of spice to perfect this flavor combination. The light berry flavors and hint of orange zest in the Mark West Pinot Noir are an ideal complement.

Rate It!

2009 Mark West California Pinot Noir

Tips

If you can’t find balsamic glaze at the store, you can make your own. Combine 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and let reduce by 1/3, or until it thickens slightly. Cool before serving, or store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Basil is best stored at room temperature in a glass of cool water, like a flower. Refrigeration can bruise the leaves and reduce storage life.

Image Pairing 10 Big Close
Image Pairings 10

Cinnamon-Sugar and Walnut Cheese Board

Take the traditional pairing of cheddar cheese and apples to another level with the addition of walnuts and cinnamon sugar. The dark red fruit flavors and underlying earthiness in the Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon are classic matches to accompany this cheese pairing.

Rate It!

Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon

Tips

Cut your apples immediately before serving to avoid serving browned apples. Avoid using lemon as a way to minimize browning as the lemon flavor could negatively affect the flavors of the pairing.

To make your own cinnamon sugar, combine 1/2 cup of granulated sugar with 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon.

Image Pairing 11 Big Close
Image Pairings 11

Spiced-Cherry Cheese Ball

Crunchy and sweet on the outside, smooth and delicious on the inside. Mix cream cheese and cheddar until blended, stir in cherries, and roll into a ball. Refrigerate at least two hours before rolling in nuts. Serve this crowd favorite with crackers.

Rate It!

Tips

To wrap for gift giving, place cheese ball and knife on decorative platter or cutting board. Wrap with colorful cellophane and ribbon. After serving the cheese ball at the holiday party, the hostess will have a lovely gift to remember the occasion!