In this week’s blog I thought it would be fun to share some tips on how to pair Wine with Cheese. I am lucky to have a brother in the wine business. My brother Paul Burne, is a Key Account Manager who works for Slocum & Sons Inc. in Connecticut. I've only had the pleasure of seeing Paul do a wine tasting once or twice, but each time I find myself in awe of his passion and knowledge for the history and people and the wine regions around the world. I'm no wine consourrier myself, but I do listen when Paul is sharing information and I find it interesting. So, today I'm paying it forward by sharing some of these insights with you - just in time for holiday entertaining!
It’s that wonderful time of year when we all get to celebrate family, friends, and great food. When last visiting with Paul, I was telling him how I am selling these great cheese boards and knives which are handcrafted by a local Artisan. That conversation led us to discuss how to choose a wine to go with a specific cheese. I found the conversation interesting, so I took a few notes and was determined to share some of his insights.
Paul assumed that I knew that Oregon’s Rogue Creamy was awarded the best cheese in the world for their Rogue River Blue by the “World Cheese awards.” I don’t know why he assumed I would know that, but I didn't (sometimes I think my brother Paul lives in world of elegance, art, culture and class and I live in a world of hot dogs, football and beer, lol!) However, we breezed passed my ignorance and Paul proceed to tell me about all the wonderful artisans out there that are creating great products locally. With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, I was specifically interested in knowing how Paul decides to pair a wine with what is being served. After all, my decision process is simple - Poultry/Fish - serve white wine and Beef and rich foods - go with reds. My strategy never incorporated Cheese pairings with Wine, and somehow I always managed to get by with that one strategy. However, since there’s a resident expert in the family, I may as well take things to the next level. Paul explained that "when I put together a cheese board I like to figure out if I’m serving it as an appetizer, a course during a meal, or as a dessert. This really dictates what type of wine I will typically serve with them. " Naturally this made me laugh because I honestly can't recall ever having cheese as part of a course (except maybe Mozzarella en-Carrozza when having Italian and I definitely don’t remember it as a dessert. ) So, given it’s Thanksgiving, we will consider cheese as an appetizer in the following scenario
How to Pair Your Cheese with Wine
Paul explained that "when putting together a cheese board, I always look to find different types of cheeses from different dairy sources. Goat cheese for light pungent styles much like Crotin de Chavignol, Comte, and Feta are a great addition to any cheese board and should be included in yours." He shared some of his local New England favorites:
*Blue Ledge Farm Chevre - Vermont: This is a fresh goat milk cheese that is unaged. It is fresh and pungent.
*Blue Ledge Crottina - Vermont: This award-winning cheese is an aged style and gives the cheese a great velvety texture on the interior with a bit of the rind on the exterior. Paul raves that this is a great product!
Paul suggests serving Sauvignon Blanc with any goat cheese. Look for a crisp mineral driven wine from Frances Loire Valley or an "all stainless-steel" version from America.
For Red wine, Pinot Noir from Oregon makes a wonderful accompaniment to these lighter styled cheeses.
Sheep Milk Cheese
Sheep milk cheeses are a little more rare and harder to find in your local market, but there are many that you know and love. Pecorino, Manchego, and Roquefort are all Sheep milk cheeses. What makes them great is that they have almost twice the fat and protein of Cow’s milk or goat cheeses. They have a wonderful full body flavor and go great with nuttier wines. Paul favors the products from these local artisans:
*Weston Wheel Sheep cheeses of Vermont
*Woodcock Farms Vermont
He looks to pair wines with a natural nutty character with cheeses like this, including a Verdicchio from Tuscany or a full-bodied chardonnay that is oak aged.
For red wine he suggests that we consider a Beaujolais wine. Beaujolais Nouveau is fun and fruity and meant to be drank just after harvest- right around this time and can be a great accompaniment. If you're looking for something a little more serious look for Beaujolais Village. Another great wine for these types of cheeses is Barber from the Piedmont region in Italy. There are subtle differences between Barbera D’Alba and Barbera D’Asti, but both are great.
Cow’s Milk Cheese
The biggest category and perhaps the easiest cheeses to pair with are Cow's milk cheeses. These run the gamut including soft cheeses like Brie, Gouda, Cheddar, and Swiss. Paul says the possibilities are endless with the varieties you can choose. He always likes to have on his cheese board soft cheeses like Brie and Blue Cheese to a hard cheese like cheddar, which of course is the easiest one to shop locally for in New England. Some of Paul's favorite's are from these great local producers:
*Arethusa Farm Dairy, Litchfield, CT
*Abbey of Regina Laudis, Bethlehem, CT
*Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, VT
*Grafton Village Cheese, Brattleboro, VT
*Cato Corner Farm, Colchester, CT
With Cheeses made from cow's milk, Paul likes to pair them with wines that are full bodied and rich. He looks for quality wine producers that use oak barrels to ferment and that give it that extra bit of flavor. For these he recommends fuller bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon. If your a little more adventurous try wines made with Syrah grapes.
By the way, don’t forget to shop www.piperanddune.com for all your holiday shopping needs. Please like us on Instagram and Facebook.
Enjoy… Find Something That Excites You!
Chris and the Piper and Dune Family