How to... create the perfect Christmas cheeseboard

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As Christmas Day approaches, cooks planning the perfect festive lunch should not forget a key part of the meal - the cheese course, the grand finale.

Which cheese to choose

There are so many varieties of cheese to choose from hard, soft, cow's, goat's or ewe's milk, pasteurised and unpasteurised that the choice can be confusing. Choose between three and five cheeses any more will overwhelm the palate. As a minimum, you'll need a firm cheese, such as a cheddar, a soft cheesend a blue-veined cheese to give a variety of tastes and textures. You need to allow 100g - 3oz of cheese per person.

There are so many varieties of cheese that the choice can be confusing. Choose between three and five cheeses - any more will overwhelm the palate

How to serve cheese

Take the cheese out of the fridge three hours before serving to allow it to come up to room temperature and the flavours to develop. If cheese is too cold, its flavour is inhibited. Remove all wrapping before serving, but leave on the rinds to preserve the shape of the cheese and make it look its best.

A cheese's flavour develops from the outside in, so the rind is also needed to develop this fully.

What to serve it with

We would serve these cheeses with warm walnut toast and homemade chutney - we like pear or quince. Ensure you have a large wooden cheese board and one knife for each cheese. On your cheeseboard, you can add grapes, apple, celery - not only do these look decorative, but they bring out the flavours of cheese perfectly. As well as the toast, have a selection of cheese biscuits. Oatcakes work particularly well with Collier's Cheddar.