2017-02-01 / Wine Notes

For the Love of Cheese

Robert D. Richards, CSW

If your Valentine’s Day plans include a little time at home — and a little wine — here’s a way to create a perfect pairing for your perfect pairing: Just say cheese, and you’re sure to bring a smile to your valentine’s face.

Wine and cheese have remained a couple through the ages. Perhaps what keeps them together is the similarly painstaking effort that is used to transform natural ingredients like grapes or milk into something delectable. More likely, it’s the way the flavor elements of both so complement each other that we cannot help thinking of them as a team.

When pairing wine and cheese, favor age-appropriate relationships over May-December romances. Young, fresh cheeses match best with young, fresh wines, including reds. Older, more complex cheeses require a similar wine partner.

Dry Champagne and sparkling wines are perfect for bloomy-rind cheeses. For instance, try the triple cream French cheese Brillat-Savarin with Champagne. The semi-soft cheese is moist, creamy, earthy and even a bit sour. A drizzle of honey adds a hint of sweetness, while crusty bread provides the texture.  Since opposites often attract, the dry crispness of Champagne is a great match. If you would rather avoid bubbles, a Viognier works too.

Chevre, made from goat’s milk, is a tart dessert cheese that sits well on a cracker or crostini.  Shaped into small rounds or logs, this cheese is lower in fat than the typical cow’s milk variety.  For pairing purposes, try a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Gris or, if you’re feeling aptly sweet, open up a Riesling or Moscato.

Originating in England, cheddar is now made around the globe, including some fine ones in Vermont. An aged cheddar has a sharper flavor and requires a bolder wine. A Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo or Zinfandel will all work. Those wines also pair nicely with aged Gruyère, Gouda or even Parmigiano-Reggiano, where the salt helps to round the tannins in the wine.

Most supermarkets have a fresh cheese section. Pick up a few this Valentine’s Day and then head to the state store where these wine partners await. •SCM

Champagne Pol Roger Brut NV
(#29537, $47.99)
A long, slow maturation process gives this family-owned Champagne house favorite a marked complexity and a mineral finish.

Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2010
(#48829, $47.99)
This classic cab from a classic Napa Valley producer shows hints of jam, oak, berries and plum.

Guido Porro Barolo Vigna Lazzairasco 2009
(#43303, $34.99)
This bold Italian wine offers a nose of berries, clove, dried fruits and just a hint of vanilla.

Cliff Lede Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2012
(#48670, $22.99)
This is one of the best-kept secrets for Sauvignon Blanc, but the secret is getting out. Year after year, this wine shows notes of fresh peaches, citrus and pineapple. It’s partially fermented
in French oak.

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