Woman enjoying wine and cheese and video chatting from her smartphone.

How to host a virtual cheese tasting.

We’re all finding new ways to enjoy our loved ones from a safer distance. With a little technology and some ingenuity, why don’t you try hosting a virtual cheese tasting this holiday season? If you’ve got an internet connection with a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone, you’re in luck! 

Follow these 4 simple steps

Step 1: Acquire the cheese.

Choose between 3 & 5 cheeses and try a variety of tastes and textures to add more interest to your plate for your virtual cheese tasiting. Here’s a nice selection to consider…

  • Comox Brie – a soft cheese is a must for every cheese plate. Try our award winning brie or camembert to add a creamy buttery texture.  Check the best-before date. A soft cheese with two weeks or less on the best-before date will be getting softer and stronger. If you want a gentler, tangier taste, look for a younger soft cheese with 4 weeks or more left on its best-before date. You can also test the soft cheese by GENTLY squeezing the sides. The more give, the stronger the flavour. 
  • Amsterdammer – this popular cheese has a mild flavour and buttery texture. But don’t be deceived, mild doesn’t mean bland. Let it warm up on your plate to release the full flavours.  
  • Boerenkaas – this is a great cheese-plate choice as it is strong enough to stand up to a beer or red wine, but versatile enough to pair with any of the fruits and nuts on the plate. 
  • Pacific Wildfire Verdelait – it’s always a good idea to include a cheese that everyone can talk about. This adventurous cheese combines locally grown habanero peppers with fresh cracked black pepper to add a little fire to the gathering.
  • Aged Farmhouse – our most popular variety, this cheese is loaded with rich, bold flavour. Its hearty nature will pair well with clean flavours like apple and pear. Let it warm on your tongue and enjoy the depth of flavours that are released.

What should you pair with your cheeses?

The choices are endless! Here are some ideas to try…

  • Fresh or dried apples, pears and figs.
  • Nuts such as cashews, walnuts and almonds.
  • Fresh preserves or even simple honey make a fabulous pairing for soft cheese.
  • And it’s always fun to experiment with new combinations – try something sourced locally like an artisanal mustard or a smooth, dark chocolate from a shop around the corner. Most importantly, play and have fun!

Have each virtual cheese tasting invitee acquire the same cheeses and pairings, whichever ones you choose. You can procure our cheeses at any Thrifty’s, online through spud.ca, or if you’re local to Courtenay, head over to our Artisan Cheese Shop at 635 McPhee Ave, open from 9-4, M-F. We also have a list of independent grocers and other retailers on our “Where to Find Us” page.

Step 2: Choose your guests & video chat tech of choice.

Pick a video chat app that you’re most comfortable with – if you’re familiar with Zoom, go for it, others may find that a Facebook Messenger chat is easier to handle. Set up a meeting, send out your invites, and you’re good to go.

Tech tips for you to include in your invite:

  • Wear a headset to improve audio quality for everyone.
  • Mute your mic if you have a lot of background noise in your space, unmute when you want to speak.
  • Have a light shining towards your face rather than behind you to avoid being backlit.
  • Position yourself in a spot with a strong internet signal.
  • Prop your device (phone, tablet, laptop) somewhere stable so that you can be hands-free. That leads us to step 3…

Step 3: Setup your device.

You’ll want to set your laptop, tablet, or phone in such a way where you can be hands free, with a good view of your place setting. A tabletop setup works well, with your device’s camera pointing toward you. You may need some books piled behind the tablet to hold it up. A damp dish cloth can prevent slipping.

Make sure your wireless internet is on and working. Close down any applications or tv’s that may be using your internet signal. Unmute, and turn your volume up to 50–80% of max. Make a test call to one friend to make sure everything is working. Have everyone agree on a landscape or vertical orientation of their device, which will maximize your screen real estate.

Step 4: Go!

You’ll inevitably spend the first 15 minutes either waiting on your guests, or troubleshooting the technology. It’s best to have a tech-savvy person on hand to help smooth the way. Also wine.

Once everyone is on (we recommend no more than 6 people total) you’re good to go. Establish an order for the tasting and get rolling.

Tasting Glossary

Here’s a vocabulary of cheese tasting words that may help you describe what you’re tasting:

  • Grassy
  • Pungent
  • Earthy
  • Citric
  • Sweet
  • Gamey
  • Lactic
  • Lingering
  • Sharp
  • Lemony
  • Buttery
  • Nutty
  • Herbaceous
  • Toasty
  • Spicy

Everyone will detect flavours in their own unique way, which makes for interesting conversation. Maybe you’ll get some ideas on wine pairings, or recipes that would work with these flavours? Like a book club, a cheese tasting is meant to create conversation, which will of course take on its own life.

A virtual cheese tasting is a great way to connect with your friends or relatives this holiday season. It’s also a great gift idea: choose your people, send them the cheese, and get ready for an awesome time.

Salut!

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