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Posts Filed Under The ‘Alison Eighteen’ Category

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Must be Muscat

Muscat dAlexandrie Viala et Vermorel e1375291560260 Must be Muscat

If you can get people to try a white wine other than Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, it might not be such an easy thing. Those three varietals are the work-horses for Americans’ white wine preferences. All together I would venture to guess they comprise more than half the white wine we consume, and quite possibly as much or more than a third of all wines that we drink. Not that I have anything against those three but they do have their limits when you pair them with cheeses.

Last week I was reminded of how valuable the humble Muscat can be as a cheese varietal. Years ago it was my number one go-to white varietal if a guest wanted a recommendation for a glass of white to go with their cheese course. The grape can cover a range of dryness: from drier table or sparkling wines to dessert and fortified wines. Depending on the guest’s tolerance for bubbles or sweetness, this would define the Muscat style I would recommend.

At last week’s Sexy Cheese & Sumptuous Wines class the Bonny Doon Muscat was the star player among the four wines poured. The Mâcon Chardonnay held up fairly well except with the one sheep milk cheese in the mix, the Abbaye de Belloc. The Napa Merlot was delicious on its own but it did not come into its own until we reached the Epoisses, the Gruyère, and the sweet Prima Donna. The Merlot fell flat with most every other cheese on the plate including the blue Fourme d’Ambert. The northern Rhône Syrah fared a bit better than the Merlot but the star of the show was Muscat.

I would not write off Muscat out of hand. Some may be a bit cloying but many are simply delightful, especially with cheeses.

- Max McCalman

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Rosé Verdict

Glass of rosé e1374075938919 Rosé Verdict

The rosé we enjoyed in last night Cheese & Wine 101 class was from the Languedoc region of southwest France. Like many rosé wines of the region it was made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault. The other wines were delightful: a white Bordeaux, a Lodi Chardonnay, and a vin de pays Mediterranée Merlot-dominant red wine. I had a good idea of how all these wines would pair with each of the cheeses but I was far less certain about the rosé. It was the prettiest wine among the four and it was a wine that could be enjoyed on its own. The best cheese match for it was a Robiola Castagna. Also nice with the Garrotxa, the Royale and Le Moulis, its best partner was the mixed milk cheese from Italy’s Piemonte, the prettiest cheese on the plate. Might this be part of the logic of successful cheese and wine pairings? Pretty wine likes pretty cheese? Mixed milk cheeses tend to be more versatile with different wine types. The Robiola Castagna has all three primary dairy animals’ milks in its recipe: goat, sheep and cow. The blend of grapes (something the French have mastered so well) gives blended wines enhanced versatility with different cheeses too. The limitations for this cheese and this wine could be largely attributed to the overall “size” of flavors in each. The rosé held up with each of the cheeses pretty well, until we got to the alpine cow cheese, the delicious Flösserkäse, and the gorgeous four year old Gouda, and the fabulous Fourme d’Ambert. Conversely, the Robiola Rocchetta was nice with the white Bordeaux and the California Chardonnay, not bad with the red wine, but stunning with the rosé. This was one of those “impress-your-date” cheese and wine pairings. Memorable.

- Max McCalman