Pulling Together Wine & Cheese
Whether I serve cheese before, after, or in place of a meal, it is an important part of our wine culture and our lives. Life is too short to drink bad wine and eat bad cheese. Always stick to your standards and never dip below unless life and limb necessitate.Print this recipe
Collect beautiful boards with fine or artful grains, unfinished or rubbed with edible oils. Scraps of slate, marble or tiles can make a beautiful resting place for cheese.
Scavenge antiques shops or rummage sales for unique knives & spreaders. You never know where you will find the favorites that you will cherish. Silver, bone, steel and wood - the more varied the better.
Use pitchers or crockery for long breadstick, stack crackers on a beautiful plate. Chipped and cherished are as important as polished and fancy. Little cups or bowls can hold a variety of accompaniments.
Less is better - One striking wheel of cheese or a large wedge can be more impressive then many varieties. One of my favorite lunches served with red and white Burgundy was simply a wheel of local artisan cheese and some cold and grilled sausages. Cheese making in the US has come far over the last 20 years and cheeses produced rival the European counterparts that inspired their creation. But don’t bite the hand that fed them, it’s nice to mix Old and New World to keep it lively.
Reds - Choose cows milk or buttery sheep’s milk, semi-soft cheese. Pinot Noir soars with a Rupert Reserve from Consider Bardwell Farm in Vermont or San Andreas from Bellwether Farms. A young Pinot with a kiss of youthful fruit will work with the interior of a molded rind soft goat cheese such as Sofia from Capriole in Indiana or a Pata Cabra from Spain. A 3 month old Manchego from Spain is perfect for most wines, red or white. Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar transcends all style of red and white wines. A big wedge of this cheese is a sure bet for any gathering.
Whites - It’s easier to choose cheese for white wine as it lacks the tannins of red. It’s the tannins that tend to clash with runny, soft cheese and molded rinds. The world is your wedge when it comes to putting together white wine cheeses - soft fresh goat, molded rind fresh and aged goat, creamy sheep or mixed milk as well as blue cheeses such as Bayley Hazen Blue from Jasper Hill sing with fruity whites.
Keep Accompaniments Simple
Add olive oil and herb roasted almonds with some simple crackers and crusty bread, perhaps a few olives or cornichons. Pickled items are refreshing but not meant to eat just before sipping. Choose a bite of cheese, a sip of wine, and then later on a nip of pickle to lift your palate before repeating. Jams are fine in moderation but they themselves will clash with the wines.