Is it wine-cheese-wine? How about cheese-wine-cheese? When at a cheese and wine tasting, you can sample however you want, but the end goal is to show how complementing wines and cheeses influence the taste of one another. That is exactly what Bambi and Grady did during this Thursday’s “Top 10 Wines” at the Augusta Whole Foods Market. Sampling out a selection of 10 wines and 10 accompanying cheeses, they allowed guests the opportunity to see how the “mysterious marriage” of cheese and wine actually works. While this sort of event is not a frequent occurence at Whole Foods (as opposed to the weekly Wine Not It’s Friday event), it turned out to be a huge success that enriched taster’s understanding of how to purchase wines/cheeses – it was also a really enjoyable time full of socializing and laughs.
Wines were sampled in the following order and each was served with its corresponding paired cheese to show how the complements of each dynamically influence flavor. Note that not every cheese listed on the tasting handout/Whole Foods website was used due to avilability, so substituted cheeses that were actually at the tasting can be seen below.The tasting began with whites, progressed to reds, and concluded with sparkling.
|H&M Hoffer, Grüner Veltliner||Kaltbach Cave-Aged Le Gruyère AOP cheese|
|Animist, Chardonnay||Seaside Cheddar|
|Autoritas, Sauvignon Blanc||365 Goat cheese|
|Chateau des Rôches, Fleurie||The Drunken Goat cheese|
|Andover Estate, Pinot Noir||Sartori Herbs des Provence BellaVitano|
|Criterion, Chianti Classico||Parmigiano Reggiiano|
|Santa Julia, Malbec del Mercado||Gabriel Coulet Roquefort|
|Chateau La Commanderie de Saint-Génis, Bordeaux Supérieur||The Fine Cheese Co. Blue Stilton (ceramic jar)|
|Francis Ford Coppola, Director’s Cut Technicolor||Uniekaas Robusto|
|Camino Calixo, Cava||Bonhomme de Normandre Double Cream Brie|
Jason was the first guest of the evening. He arrived right at the event start (6pm) and bravely approached the booth. Having never done an actual tasting before, he inquired as to how it worked and then commenced ‘sample-age’. Choosing the wine-cheese-wine route, he commented on how much the flavor of the first wine – H&M Hoffer, Grüner Veltliner – changed before and after tasting the suggested Kaltbach Cave-Aged Le Gruyère AOP cheese. He was the first of many to gather round’, inquire, sample, and peak with interest at the cheese/wine interaction. Intended to last only from 6-7pm, Bambi found herself still pouring wine and describing cheeses come 7:45pm as guests socialized and chose their favorite pairings to take home with them. One such taster, Anastacia, had an armful of delicious selections. Of the 10 cheeses sampled out, she chose the Seaside Cheddar, Balsamic BellaVitano (similar to the Herbs des Provence BellaVitano), and Fine Cheese Co. Blue Stilton to take home with her. The Blue Stilton’s flavor appealed to her the most, but she and her husband often grab a block of the Seaside Cheddar becuase of its versatillity. “We love this cheese” she said, “We even put it in our morning grits!” Each guest certainly had their favorites for both cheese and wine, however the Santa Julia, Malbec del Mercado and Francis Ford Coppola, Director’s Cut Technicolor were two selections repeatedly heard amidst conversations. In regards to cheese, it seemed that the Seaside Cheddar and Sartori Herbs des Provence BellaVitano were the crowd favorites.
Not only did guests indulge in all of these delecacies and make new acquaintances, but valuable insight into cheese/wine pairing was gained just in time to host a holiday gathering of their own. The specialty department at Whole Foods will be more than happy to assist you with a refresher on anything mentioned during the tasting and guide you through what you need to make this holiday season a memorable gustatory experience.
While pairing can seem like a huge, daunting task better left to experts, it is truthfully something that anyone can do. There are a few guidlines which help with pairing: fat loves acidity, young likes young, and strong likes strong. The reason that cheese goes so well with wine is because of how fat goes well with acidity. Cheese is fatty and wine is acidic, thus complementing one another. As a guidline, the younger a cheese is (ie. soft, moist, and less aged) then it will go best with a young and/or crisp wine. Aged, robust cheeses (yes, even some stinky ones) will need a matured wine rich in flavors and tannis to hold up against the strong flavors of the cheese. While these trends certainly to not hold true all of the time, it is a decent starting point for the cheese and wine novice. Give these out and let me know if it works for you. Cheers!
More detailed information about wine tasting notes and recipe pairing can be found here at the Whole Foods website.
H&M Hofer Grüner Veltliner
Made with Organically Grown Grapes.
A big bottle at a great price! Super fresh and crisp. Enticing minerality. White peach, Meyer lemon and green apple flavors up front, then lovely notes of sage and rosemary.
Goes with: Kaltbach Cave-Aged Le Gruyère AOP cheese, shrimp, oysters, turkey, green olives, warm winter greens, lentils
Recipe pairing: Apple-Wine Cocktail
An initial holiday burst of evergreen aromas. Ripe tropical flavors, apple and cantaloupe move to oak-influenced vanilla notes. A big, toasty chardonnay—perfect for the season.
Goes with: Seaside Cheddar, ham, creamy pastas with seafood, risotto, mushroom crêpes, scalloped potatoes
Recipe pairing: Sesame and Herb Spiral Ham
Autoritas Sauvignon Blanc
Fresh-cut herb and green grass aromas greet you from the glass. Soft melon and ripe tropical fruit flavors accentuate the refreshing, clean finish. A truly classic offering from Chile’s Valle Central.
Goes with: Vermont Creamery Coupole cheese, poached white-fleshed fish, seafood pasta, shrimp, turkey breast, salad greens with goat cheese, friends before a meal
Recipe pairing: Bay Scallop Linguine with White Wine and Parsley
Chateau des Rôches Fleurie
Made with Organically Grown Grapes
A truly special wine. Beautiful warm red color in the glass. Elegance, ripeness with restraint, bright fresh fruit notes and just-right tannins. This is the first bottle to open when you have guests.
Goes with: The Drunken Goat cheese, charcuterie, smoked salmon, cassoulet, roast duck, croque madame, Indian-inspired dishes, curried chickpeas
Recipe pairing: Roasted Duck with Pomegranate Glaze
Andover Estate Pinot Noir
Lovely see-through red in the glass. Nice contrast between rustic earthy aromas and fruity flavors of cherry and cranberry with a touch of sassafras. Classic Northern California purity and balance.
Goes with: Sartori Herbs des Provence BellaVitano cheese, roasted pork loin, quail, pheasant, roasted winter vegetables
Recipe pairing: Easy Porchetta Pork Tenderloin
Criterion Chianti Classico
The Old World infuses this beautiful Chianti. Look for aromas of cherry, dried flowers and a touch of spice. Forward dried cherry flavors balance with cranberry and leather notes. Elegant structure through the lingering finish.
Goes with: Parmigiano Reggiano, pork chops, baked lasagna, red sauce, pizza, robust vegetarian pasta, Game Day!
Recipe pairing: Superfast Weeknight Lasagna
Santa Julia Malbec del Mercado
Serve more guests with this big bottle! The true fruit shines through in every sip. Plum and chocolate aromas give way to flavors of cassis and spice. Enticing smoky, floral finish.
Goes with: Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog cheese, lamb, beef stews, sweeter barbecue, teriyaki, fruit-based glazes, sloppy joes, vegetarian chili
Recipe pairing: Family Favorite Sloppy Joes
Chateau La Commanderie de Saint-Génis Bordeaux Supérieur
Aromas of deep red fruits and the French countryside. A colorful palette of flavors, from red cherry to plum to currant, with just a wisp of tobacco. Lovely minerality. A quintessential Bordeaux.
Goes with: Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue cheese, classic French cuisine, standing rib roast, mushroom dishes, scalloped potatoes
Recipe pairing: Celery Root and Potato Gratin
Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut Technicolor
This big California Red offers aromas of spice, plum and a touch of creamy vanilla. Forward berry flavors mix with ripe red plum, cherries and a warm spicy note. Exceptional balance between jammy richness and fine structured tannins.
Goes with: Uniekaas Robusto cheese, short ribs, beef fillet, porterhouse steak, brisket, wild rice pilaf with cranberries, stuffed winter squash
Recipe pairing: Brisket with Root Vegetables
Camino Calixo Cava
Cascading fine beads shine in this pale golden Sparkler. Wafts of green apple, brioche and white flowers. Caramel-covered green apple flavors. Citrus and toasty notes in a finish of lingering complexity.
Goes with: Bonhomme Brie, cheese plates, finger foods, toasted almonds, cake, any occasion—or non-occasion
Recipe pairing: Flourless Honey-Almond Cake
**All of the above information was used from the Whole Foods website as follows: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/our-11-favorite-wines-holiday-season