Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Friday, December 27 2019

A New Year’s Eve Celebration

By: Anthony Gismondi
Allison Spurrell talks about cheese before and after dinner.

We asked Allison for a New Year's Eve cheese selection, and she wisely makes a distinction between what she would recommend before dinner and what she would pick after the meal.

Milk Type:

Cow, goat, and sheep


Assorted cheese to pair with bubbly


There is always a difference between the selection of cheese I recommend before dinner versus what I might serve after the meal. Before dinner, I'm a fan of lighter styles with cleaner flavours. Something sharp or nutty would be good, or fresher, soft cheeses would be a great choice. Strong, robust cheeses like blue, for example, wouldn’t be my favourite before dinner choice. The problem is they may cloud your taste buds for whatever wine and foods are coming.

For a New Year’s Eve platter to serve with a glass of sparkling wine, I have suggested a few kinds of cheese to enjoy before you sit down to dinner. These, of course, are just a few you could choose, but remember to keep it simple before dinner. You don’t want to serve too much food and fill people up before you get to the main event!  Two or three cheeses and a few simple accompaniments will be plenty to get you through a bottle or two of whatever lovely wine you’ve chosen.

Tasting Notes:

Caccio di Bosca is a pecorino (sheep’s milk cheese) from Tuscany. Made by the cooperative Il Fortetto, it is aged beautifully and is rich with the lovely flavour of white truffle. What a perfect snack for a celebratory evening. Cut in wedges or sticks, and there’s no need for even a cracker; just use your fingers

Piave Vecchio is my go-to for all sparkling wines. Something about the clean, sharp, fruity taste seems to complement most fizz choices perfectly. I’ve written about this cheese before

Besace de Berger is a fresh goat cheese from the Périgord. It is lightly dusted with ash and has a lovely fresh, lemony taste. Its distinctive shape lends a sense of fun to your platter, and its fresh, clean style provides a contrast to the more aged, hard cheeses. You could easily use another fresh, unripened cheese, goat, or otherwise, and it would be equally as delightful with your selection.


Think about nutty, buttery olives like Picholine, Lucques or Castelvetrano. Cheese straws, cheese shortbread, or just excellent quality Italian breadsticks are perfect with a glass of bubbly. I usually serve a straightforward cracker or flatbread to accompany the cheese. I find bread a bit filling before dinner, so serving cheeses that don’t need a vessel is a great idea. Happy New Year!

Wine pairings ideas from GOW:

Written By: ag
Anthony Gismondi
Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi is a Canadian wine journalist and one of North America's most influential voices in wine. For 30 years he has been the wine columnist for The Vancouver Sun. His twice-weekly column is distributed across Canada through Postmedia Network to 10 million readers. Anthony co-hosts the 20-year-strong BC Food & Wine Radio Show, which is broadcast in seven markets in B.C. and available online everywhere on iHeartRadio.ca. He launched Gismondionwine.com in 1997, attracting one million users a month from 114 countries. It continues to be a valuable resource of full tasting notes and intelligent wine stories and videos for the trade and consumers.