Monday, April 11, 2011

Gobbly-Gook or Wine & Cheese Pairing Advice

The Marriage of Wine & Cheese

The old school of thought about cheese and wine pairing used to be simple: Eat Cheese with Red Wine. This is about as old & out of date as “drink white wine with fish/poultry and red wine with beef”.

There are, though, some general rules that are worth following to help create successful cheese and wine pairings, and more --- to create evocative, sensual memories of the perfect food experience.

Cheeses and wines should be paired either because they share similar characteristics or because they have contrasting but complementary characteristics... why a marriage works!

Basically, wine is made up of acid, alcohol, sugar and tannins. The variations in each of these components plus production style & aging gives each wine its unique flavor. Cheese share some of the same components, including acid, but is also made up of protein and fat. The concentration of these components contribute to the final flavor of cheese and leads to the successful or unsuccessful marriage with different wines.

Right now if you didn’t read further… what I just wrote in the last paragraph
is more like Gobbley-Gook then wine-cheese pairing advice

The following guidelines made sense to me and you know I’m challenged in the kitchen. And, just like at my tasting bar, every person’s palate is different. That’s why tasting events like our NW Wine & Cheese Tour has so much to offer… a variety of artisan cheeses at each boutique winery all paired with different hand-crafted wines. We’re very excited that Lynn Keenan, Washington cheese expert and owner of Port Angeles’ Renaissance, will be in our cellar talking about the artisan cheeses, their farms and creameries.

Light young cheeses with light white wines. Farmer’s, some Feta, Fromage blanc with Chenin Blanc, Müller-Thurgau from Olympic Cellars released this summer

High-acid, younger cheese with high-acid white wines (Chevre, fresh goat cheese, with sauvignon blanc)

Low-acid, more aged cheeses with low-acid white wines (aged cows’ milk cheese with oak aged Chardonnay). Samish Bay Cheese Company, organic cheddar, aged 18 months served with Olympic Cellars new release, 2009 Chardonnay at NW Wine & Cheese Tour

Stronger cheeses with stronger wines (aged cheddar with Syrah) Pleasant Valley Dairy Farm’s Gouda with Fine Herbs and Olympic Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon at NW Wine & Cheese Tour

Strong salty cheeses with dessert wines or fortified wines (blue cheese with late-harvest Riesling) Willapa Hills Farm Pluvius and Big Boy Blue served with Olympic Cellars My Sweet Syrah at NW Wine & Cheese Tour

Creamy cheeses or those with a high fat and protein content will soften tannins in red wine (Camembert or creamier-style blue cheese with a big, bold, in your face Cabernet) My all time favorite, Mt. Townsend Cirrus with Olympic Cellars Syrah and Cab Franc

Again, in general, sweeter white wines will work with cheese more often than dry white wines do. Consider Dungeness White Riesling and Working Girl White (Chardonnay & Riesling)

Cheers, Kathy
A Working Girl at Olympic Cellars
Olympic Cellars On-Line Store

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