Good variety: A solid presentation will typically feature three to four cheeses with a variety of textures, flavors, hardness and softness. Mike Kast of Curds & Whey starts with something creamy, like a fresh goat cheese, or chevre. (If you object, he suggests brie.) Next, on to something harder like an aged gouda. His third choice is something more medium in texture, like a young gouda. He rounds the board off with a crumbly blue cheese (again, if your palate agrees).

Good variety: A solid presentation will typically feature three to four cheeses with a variety of textures, flavors, hardness and softness. Mike Kast of Curds & Whey starts with something creamy, like a fresh goat cheese, or chevre. (If you object, he suggests brie.) Next, on to something harder like an aged gouda. His third choice is something more medium in texture, like a young gouda. He rounds the board off with a crumbly blue cheese (again, if your palate agrees).

Crackers vs. baguette: “In my book, you want to show off the cheese,” says Kent Rand of Weiland’s Market, suggesting reaching for simpler crackers. “The cracker should be like a frame of this piece of art.” For Kast, though, a baguette is always a good choice. His favorite? A classic loaf from Omega Bakery. “That is the best bread for our cheese tasting that I have ever had,” he says. “It’s got the full wheat flavor.”

Fruit: Depending on the styles of cheeses selected, add fresh fruit like grapes, apples and pears to add texture and a bit of acid. Other great accoutrements include raisins, walnuts, almonds, peaches, figs and strawberries. Tropical fruits are a no-no, Kast says, as they kill the taste of wine and can dull your palate.

Jam: Select jams that follow the same lines as the raw fruit—apples, pears and grapes are good, but tropical is not. Locally made Black Radish Creamery comes highly recommended by chefs and cheesemongers, including the concord-grape-and-rosemary Mr. Atwood’s Jelly (a 2014 Good Food Award winner), and Sailor’s Cider, an apple cider jelly spiced with rum, mulling spices and vanilla bean.