Mar 3, 2011 1:10 PM
An Introduction to Pairing Wine and Cheese
Wine and cheese share a long and storied relationship. For centuries, these staples of many world cultures have provided us with nourishment and pleasure. No surprise then, they have evolved together, creating a visceral experience beyond the reach of either alone. For our purpose we will discuss a few dissimilar, common cheeses, and some of the wines that complement them. It is important to note that pleasure is a subjective matter, and in all pairings your own taste should be the final authority.
Chevre. Originally produced in the French regions of Midi, Auvergne, and the Loire Valley, this goat's milk cheese has a creamy, fatty texture, and an herbaceous, tangy flavor. For a beautiful pairing, try one of many local wines from the Loire Valley. Sancerre, made from Sauvignon Blanc, has a grassy freshness that compliments chevre's flavor, and crisp acidity to clean your palate of the cheese's richness. Another Loire Valley wine, Vouvray, is made from Chenin Blanc. With intriguing minerality, bright flavors, and often a touch of sweetness, Vouvray also marches in lock step with chevre.
Gorgonzola. Hailing from farms surrounding Milan in Italy, this cow's milk cheese is a creamy, green veined, blue cheese. Its deep, pungent flavors and rich, pervasive texture beg for a wine of equal weight. For this reason, dessert wines with high sugar content and a good dose of fresh acidity sing with this cheese. Try Sauternes from western France for an ethereal balance of sweet and fresh, or a late-harvest Riesling from Germany, with cleansing acidity and an engaging nectar.
Cheddar. Traditionally produced in the county of Somerset, England, Cheddar is a light to medium yellow, cow's milk cheese. Aged anywhere from three to sixty months; this cheese ranges from comparatively mild, and semi-soft, to full-bodied, tangy, and firm. Extracted and fruit-forward red wines usually compliment Cheddar's robust flavors. Try Australian Shiraz for a meaty, smoky compliment, whose powerful body is up to the challenge, or a California Zinfandel, whose ripe and jammy fruit flavors, when enjoyed with the cheese, seem to go on and on. Enjoy.
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