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Posts Filed Under The ‘White Wine’ Category

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

The Waning Days of Sauvignon Blanc

13930 Large e1379958620981 The Waning Days of Sauvignon Blanc

We have enjoyed some lovely weather around New York City for the past several months. After Sandy, we have had little to complain about. During the last few hours of summer it has seemed more like November. The cooler weather is good for many things, including the cheese appetite. It may not be quite as good for the Sauvignon Blanc fans, those that would prefer to have a chilled glass by the side of the pool. For many however, the weather matters little – this varietal is a favorite, even in February.

If other foods rise to the Sauvignon Blanc occasions only sporadically, it is nice to know that cheese can meld well with this grape in greater frequency. The goat cheeses are practically a given. As it turns out, the sheep cheeses favor this varietal too. About the only major cheese family that seems to shun Sauvignon Blanc is the family of blues, unless the wine happens to be one of those rare expressions of a “dessert” Sauvignon Blanc.

So among the goat cheeses you can count on Hoja Santa or Humboldt Fog to pair well with this grape. And from the sheep department the Abbaye de Belloc or the Pecorino Sardo make great partners. A Brillat Savarin (cow) triple crème makes a surprisingly nice mate, and in mixed milk bloomies, try the Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert. The wash rind cheeses can pair well too: try Epoisses, which likes just about any wine you throw its way. One of the bigger surprises is what Sauvignon Blanc can bring out of an older Gruyère or Comté. The phenomenal Cheshire, or one of the great British Cheddars, Westcombe or Keen’s, can marry well with Sauvignon Blanc too.

So as the days of Sauvignon Blanc begin to slip away, you can count on a number of cheeses of all stripes (save for the veined blues, not those stripes) to make for a memorable sunset.

- Max McCalman

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