Tips for Pairing Your 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 have been in awe of his passion and knowledge for history, the people and the wine regions around the world. I'm no wine consourrier myself, but I do listen when Paul is sharing information. So, today I'm paying it forward by sharing some of these insights that I’ve learned with you - just in time for the holidays!
It’s that wonderful time of year again where we all get to celebrate family, friends, and great food- even if your circle is as tiny as mine will be this year (sad, but think of how happy we will all be this time next year!) I was telling Paul how Piper and Dune sells these great handcrafted cheese boards and knives crafted by a local Artisan, Jesse Morey and that somehow led us to a conversation for 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 in a blog so all of you could indirectly share in his knowledge as well.
Paul assumed 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,” which of course 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 past my ignorance and Paul proceeded to tell me about all the wonderful local artisans out there that are creating great products. With Thanksgiving just two weeks or so away, I was 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, right? Somehow I always managed to get by with that little tidbit. However, pairing wine to cheese has me baffled. 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.) So, this being the Thanksgiving season, we will consider it as an appetizer.
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.
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.
*Weston Wheel Sheep cheeses of Vermont
*Woodcock Farms Vermont
Paul 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.
Cow’s Milk Cheese
The biggest category and perhaps the easiest to pair with is Cow's milk Cheese. These run the gamut including soft cheeses like Brie, Gouda, Cheddar, and Swiss. Paul says "the possibilities are endless with the variety you can choose. He always likes to have on his cheese board soft cheese 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 are:
*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 give it that extra bit of flavor.
Piper and Dune carries a variety of charcuterie supplies, a book and even these Charlton cheese knives that were featured in HGTV Magazine’s gift guide in their December issue this year. Whether you are preparing a treat for happy hour or a special holiday or occasion, your presentation is half the fun, so enjoy it. We also have some holiday trays, coasters and napkins to make the event even more fun.
Find something to make you smile and Explore What Excites You!
Chris and The Piper and Dune Family
P.S. Connecticut Friends - remember you can order online and pick up your order at our store in Bennett Square Southbury (next to Annie’s Nails & Spa), we will deliver your order to Southbury, Woodbury, Oxford or Middlebury too at no charge.