Pairing Cheese and Wine

 Pairing Cheese and Wine

The best food you can put into your mouth, bar none, is cheese. And arguably, the best beverage that you can put into your mouth is wine. If you are hungry you reach for the cheese first. And if you thirsty and you are unsure about the water, you choose the wine. Wine enjoys a great track record for safety, much like the safety record that cheese can claim.

Beyond the pleasure that cheese and wine elicit separately and together (when they are well matched) they work synergistically in nutritive ways as well. The acid in wine helps to break down and metabolize the proteins and fats in cheese. Generally we find that the more acid wines harmonize more successfully with the more acid cheeses, though this is not the primary determinant in successful pairings.

The fruit flavor in wines balance the savory qualities of cheeses. And if it is a big-flavored cheese the wine should probably be big-flavored too, or else the cheese will likely overwhelm the wine. This is one of the primary points of the CheeseClockâ„¢ pairing tool.

Granted, what may be a successful pairing to one person may be a disaster to another. We all have our own palates. Yet what we have found in our Cheese & Wine 101 classes is that the pairing principles mentioned above to have merit.

The point of divergence that occurs in our individual assessments of cheese and wine pairings occurs primarily in the assessment of the “finish,” when the aromatic esters in the cheese and wine have their say. The melding of those esters can bring out new aromas and flavors that may or may not be desirable to everyone. A pairing of cheese and wine that may start off admirably may fall short after they have left the mouth. The aromas have risen up through the retro-nasal canal and have either elevated one another, they have brought out new aromas that were previously undetected, they may have cancelled each other out, or they can cause a little distress. When those aromatics harmonize well (after all of the other pairing considerations have succeeded) is when you “seal the deal” in a good marriage of cheese and wine.

The default pairing recommendation of choosing cheeses and wines that are produced in the same region is a little overrated in my opinion. The notion of terroir has its place, but there is so much that goes into cheese making, just as there is so much that goes into wine making, that to say that just because they came from the same place will assure a successful match is a bit optimistic. It may be a good starting point and a thematic idea for a selection.

In more cases than not cheeses and wines do work well together.

Spread the curd!
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Posted by Artisanal Cheese

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