If your cheese course is an appetizer, for example, it’s a good idea to go lighter with fresh, young cheeses like burrata alongside berries in the summer or truffle honey in the colder months — you don’t want to overpower your guests’ palates (or appetites) with anything too heavy. Picture from Pinterest.

Serving a selection of cheeses seems like a straightforward endeavor - round up your favorites, throw them on a plate with crackers, and you’re good to go, right? 

Serving a next-level cheese board is actually a bit more complicated than that, and the pros want you to avoid some common mistakes.

Mistake: Serving cheese straight out of the refrigerator

If you avoid only one *don’t* on this list, let it be this one. You want your cheese to be at room temperature. Think of it like decanting a wooded pinot noir wine before serving to reveal all the scents and flavors you possibly can, but with butterfat. Cheese is shy when cold. Set your board aside, let it warm up, and then enjoy your cheeses as they were intended.

Mistake: Not enough variety.

Don't shy away from trying something new on a cheese plate. This goes for the foods you pair with your cheeses, too. Throw in some wild cards, or holiday pairings, like gingerbread men or truffles. So often it’s the most ridiculous-sounding pairings, or the two things that were just sitting next to each other on the cheese platter so you tried them, that end up changing your cheese life.

Mistake: Too much variety.

To give your star cheeses their chance to impress, limit your selection to four or five at most. Within your handful of cheeses, though, be sure to choose various milks, ages, textures, and flavors to avoid monotony and allow each cheese to make an impression.

Mistake: Overlooking aesthetics.

When you’re serving standout cheeses, you might assume their tastes and textures will speak for themselves. We eat with our eyes, which is why you should avoid simply plopping cheeses on a platter. Instead, dress up that cheese board with dried, dehydrated, and fresh fruit, jams, chutneys, pickled things, nuts, chocolate, a variety of crackers, herbs, and more, arranged with visual effect in mind.