Holiday Entertaining from Wegmans Cheese Caves

If this holiday season has you hosting a casual ugly sweater party, a formal holiday dinner or an elegant grazing party, or you’ve been tasked with bringing a dish to pass, look no further than brie, the perfect holiday cheese, to get you started. The well-known French cheese has earned itself the nickname “Queen of Cheeses” due to its mild, buttery flavor that makes it easy to serve alone or paired with just about anything.

Whether you’re new to soft cheeses or consider yourself an aficionado, Rochester , New York-based grocer Wegmans Food Markets makes it easy to get started or discover new soft cheeses, from finding the right flavor profile for your palate, to ways to serve and pair your favorite cheeses with complementary food and wine to further enhance its flavor.

With the help of Wegmans’ new Cheese Cave Affineur Mathieu Callol, Wegmans offers a line of private brand perfectly ripened brie in a variety of flavor profiles and intensities, including Mild, Medium, and Intense Brie; Medium and Intense Camembert; Mild Triple Crème and Mild Crémeux de Bourgogne.

Callol, who was born in Dijon, France, has degrees in dairy production and biotechnology from one of France’s most prestigious institutions. He spent several years honing his craft both as a research and development project manager and technician for renowned European cheese-making operations. His connections with these important manufacturers mean new sources of incredible cheeses for Wegmans.

“The mild, medium and intense designations on our labels help our customers quickly and easily understand what to expect from each cheese,” said Callol. “Our Mild Brie is a great introduction to soft cheeses, with a buttery flavor that offers a hint of sweetness. And the Medium Brie has buttery, mellow notes, while our Intense Brie offers deeper, richer, mushroomy flavors.”

An extremely versatile cheese, brie can be served at room temperature (let it stand for 1 hour before serving) on its own, topped with fruit, jam, herbs or pesto for a sweet or savory treat, or baked and dressed with any number of festive accompaniments for an elegant appetizer or dessert.

Here are just a few ways to make brie the star of your holiday party:

Easy Elegance

Accompany your brie with sweet or savory garnishments for a no-bake appetizer or dessert.

  • Wegmans Triple Crème tastes like a cross between whipped cream and whipped butter to make it perfect for pairing with a mix of fresh berries.
  • The smooth, silky texture of Wegmans Medium Camembert pairs exceptionally well with Wegmans Caramel-Pecan or Craisin-Currant-Walnut topping.
  • Ideal for Brie beginners and chocolate lovers alike, pair Wegmans Mild Brie with Wegmans Milk Chocolate Toffee Clusters.
  • The Mild, Medium, or Intense Brie, smothered with pesto makes an ideal savory appetizer.

The Holiday Cheese Tray
Building your own holiday cheese tray, or letting Wegmans do it for you, is an easy way to feed a crowd. To build your own, start with the cheeses. For a delicious combo of tastes and textures, choose a soft-ripened, hard, washed-rind, and blue cheese. From there, add charcuterie, fruits and nuts, baguette slices, and pair with wine.

Soft-Ripened Cheeses. Wegmans’ line of perfectly ripened soft cheeses is a great place to start. Wegmans Crémeux de Bourgogne offers a sweet, milky mild interior with a hint of white mushroom aroma and buttery flavor, while the Intense Camembert is bold and mushroomy.

Hard Cheeses. The Wegmans Cheese Shop offers an array of hard cheeses, including Wegmans Gouda and Wegmans New York Cheddar, both available in mild, medium and intense varieties. You can also find an array of organic hard cheeses from Maple Hill Creamery and Sierra Nevada Cheese Company.

Washed-Rind Cheeses. Add a touch of uniqueness to your cheese tray with Wegmans Holiday in Italy. This cow’s milk cheese is velvety smooth, buttery and washed with Brandy for a subtle sweetness and creamy texture.

“One of the most exciting things about working at Wegmans, is it’s a company that cares. They care about their people, their customers, their suppliers and their products,” said Collol. “Because of that, I have the opportunity to innovate, working hand-in-hand with our suppliers and artisan cheese makers to create new cheeses for our customers. Our washed-rind cheeses, rinsed and finished in our very own cheese caves, are a great example of the unique cheeses we’re able to bring to market.”

Blue Cheeses. Last, but certainly not least, finish your cheese selections with Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue Cheese or Cropwell Bishop Blue Stilton.

Enhance your tray by adding fruits and nuts, charcuterie and bread. Add Marcona almonds for a touch of saltiness, a handful of glazed walnuts for a sweet crunch, and sweetened dried cherries for tangy sweetness. Created just for Wegmans by Master Sausage Maker Josef Brunner of Hartmann’s Sausages, these savory bites are hand-crafted in the traditional European style. Try the Pepperettes, Hungarian Bites and Andouille Sausage Bites.

Wine Pairings
Another characteristic of brie that makes it the perfect holiday cheese is how exceptionally well it pairs with a glass of sparkling wine or Champagne. The Wegmans wine team recommends Bon Vivant Sparkling Brut and Sparkling Brut Rosé. If bubbly’s not for you, try Louis Latour Montagny Grande Roche Premier Cru, Louis Jadot Couvent des Jacobins Pinot Noir, or Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc.

Short on time? Let Wegmans do the work for you. Visit your local Wegmans to choose from an array of prepared cheese and charcuterie trays, or browse the Entertain catalog to order a cheese tray through Wegmans Catering.

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.