Days are getting longer, and we’re all excited to spend some long evenings with friends in backyards, balconies and patios. Relaxed affairs such as these call for abundant cheese boards and a bevvy of wines and other alcoholic beverages. Read on to learn more about the science – and the art – behind pairing beverages with cheese. We also offer a class around this topic, during which our cheese experts can come to your offices to teach your staff all about it. Contact your rep to learn more, or read on!
What is the goal of a pairing?
A thoughtful pairing between a wine and a cheese can enhance your eating/drinking experience. Do you remember that scene in Pixar’s Ratatouille? The little rat Remy tries a delicious cheese on its own, then a fresh strawberry. Both offer up distinctive, unique flavors. He then eats a chunk of both at the same time – a symphony of flavors erupts. That’s what you should aim for.
A proper pairing will …
- Further highlight the flavors of your wine and cheese,
- Reveal tastes and aromas that would be otherwise too faint to notice,
- Mellow out the more extreme flavors/aromas of what you are tasting.
What you’re trying to avoid:
- Washing out or overpowering the cheese with your beverage and vice versa.
- Clashing flavors in an unpalatable way.
The two pillars of Pairing
The terroir approach:
If it grows together … it goes together.
This age-old logic hails from simple human and agricultural logics. On the human side: before a globalized food chains, farmers and wine producers would only consume what was grown locally. Naturally, they would make foods that would function well together. This logic is made easier by the land – oftentimes, the specificities of the soil in which the grapes are grown or on which cows/sheep/goats graze create similar flavor profiles in wine and cheese.
The Flavor approach:
A few easy pairings:
Burrata is a popular fresh cow’s milk cheese: a thin shell of Mozzarella filled with cream and stracciatella, fresh mozzarella curds.
Wine: Pinot Grigio, Prosecco, Champagne.
WHITE GOLD PARMIGIANO REGGIANO, or OTHER AGED PARMIGIANO REGGIANOs
This unique Parmigiano Reggiano is produced by Caseificio La Traversetolese in the village of Traversetola, Parma, Italy. This small, wonderfully-skilled dairy has limited production cheese of only 19,000 wheels per year – each wheel is stamped by the town’s symbol, a winged goddess. The cheese has a unique beautiful white interior color, which earned it its nickname “white gold”. Its flavor is more subtle than most Parmigiano cheese – nutty, and significantly less salty than most. This is partly due to the cow’s feed, as they gorge on rich and silky flax seed as part of their diet.
Wine: It’s hard to get this one wrong. Try Chianti, Pinot Grigio Merlot, Barolo, Brunello, Dry Riesling/ Gewurztraminer, Champagne/ Prosecco, Lambrusco.
A bloomy rind, soft cheese from Normandy in France. You will enjoy its aroma of mushrooms, garlic and grass, which intensify with age. For those who fear stinky cheeses: the smell is way stronger than the taste!
Wine: Light, fruity red like Saumur Champigny, Pinot Noir, Gamay… or bubbles.
CENTRAL MOLITERNO WITH TRUFFLES
This sheep’s milk cheese with black truffles comes from the Italian island of Sardinia. Unlike most truffled cheeses, the truffle paste is infused after Moliterno has been aged so that the cheese develops its own character before the truffles are injected. Though the truffles are only visible in the “veins,” the truffle flavor permeates throughout the entire paste. Once cut, the dark paste oozes out of the crevices of the cheese. Both delicious and intriguing visually, this cheese is a show-stopper. Enjoy this pecorino with a big, earthy Italian red with enough muscle to stand up to the truffles.
Wine: Amarone, Montepulciano, Chianti, Chardonnay, Port Wine.
Société® Roquefort has an ivory-colored paste with emerald-green veining and a creamy, moist texture. Its rich, intense sheep milk flavor balances the blue mold aroma creating the magic taste that has made Roquefort famous around the world. Sweet, salty and almost smoky.
Wine: Late Harvest Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Bordeaux, Sauternes, Tawny Port.