Aligoté, infamously, is Burgundy’s Other White Grape. It is undergoing a renaissance in the 21st century. No frills and tasty.
Delicious Cheese is great! Where do you start?…you can find them at the supermarket! Yep..Go ahead and experiment. It’s so good!
Listed are 8 relatively accessible cheeses that I like along with a little bit of a story to illustrate how interesting it all can be especially when you start pairing cheese with wine.
…selected Table Crackers, Baguette or Bread. Butter. A selection of sliced prosciutto and Serrano/lomo ham or chorizo, pork rinds along with fig, honey, raspberry, Red/black currant jellies or jams. Presentation on
a wooden cutting boards or on long serving platters pair-able with wine. Pick your favorite wines. Mix and match.
These are just a few of the ideas. Go ahead and experiment. It’s so good!
One of Wines great companions is Cheese…Cheese makes you Happy! Here are some Easy Tips for Selecting Cheese and Accompaniments…
For a good variety, choose at least one from each group…
Just for starters, for me…the hard cheeses pair up with a Bordeaux, Napa Cabernet or a Chianti.
A Brie or triple cream cheeses with an un-oaked Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. For those Blue Cheeses, try a sweeter wine like a Tawny Port, late Harvest Riesling and Ice Wine.
A lot of us don’t even think twice about going to the local gourmet shop on a Friday evening for complimentary wine tastings or even asking someone for help at the local wine store. It’s time to start thinking the same way about cheese. Time to be a Cheese Aficionado!
Now cheese can get very pricey. So when you are looking at cheeses that can cost upwards of $15 -$20 a pound, you want to make sure that you’re going to like what you’re buying. The only way to know for sure is to taste. It is so worth the journey.
With the massive selection of specialty cheeses available these days; don’t limit yourself to the basic 4 or 5 cheeses (Monterrey Jack, Sharp Cheddar, Swiss etc…) you see prepackaged on the shelves.
Trying a new cheese whenever you visit the cheese shop can help you grow and coach your enjoyment to uncover a delight for cheeses you would certainly miss….and we’re talking intense delight!
In the same way, if you think you are limited to hard cheeses, take a walk on the wild side and try a younger softer cheese. Even if you think you are not a fan of blue cheese? There are a lot of different nuances and flavors. Maybe you’ll find one you like. Not sure about very pungent cheese? Go ahead and ask for a sample.
Believe me, there are so many different types of cheeses from all over the world that you really need to find a cheese expert to help teach you, get an idea what you might like, chart your course; and steer you in the right direction.
I get my Cheeses from a place called Vintage Wine Cellars and Massaro’s in Tampa FL…but Fresh Market, Whole Foods and also Trader Joe’s has some great choices.
Listen, any worthy cheese monger (the guy or gal with that hat and the apron) will be happy to let you sample the stuff and talk to you. Do not be afraid. Just say “Can I try that?” …and don’t forget to pick up a bottle of wine too. Now that’s a whole other story.
These are basically 7 types of cheeses. Here’s a way to think about them when you pick them out.
The 7 Types of Cheeses
Fresh Cheese (FC)- No rind and moist. They are ready to eat quickly. Milky, refreshing and acidic, lemony and nutty undertones.
Aged fresh Cheese (AFC)- Fresh yet aged with nice molds, yeasts and controlled to grow rind. Found in rounds, logs, pyramid shapes. They are aromatic, creamy sometimes wrinkly with ash, spices or wrapped in leaves.
Soft White Cheese (SWC)- White crust a little runny, wild and earthy mushroom buttercup flavors rich texture. Can be peppery and a little grainy.
Semi Soft Cheese (SSC)- Two types: Dry Rind and Washed Rind. Dry ripens slowly and Washed rinds soften quicker and gets supple with age. Both can range from nutty to floral and barnyard to meaty taste and aromas.
Hard Cheese (HC) – Have a rough or polished rind and gets interesting flavors. Usually come in wheels, can be either cows, goat or sheep milk, Gets complex and crunchy as they mature which can be grainy, dry and oily at the same time.
Blue Cheese (BC) – Customarily blue molds with a sticky to crusty rind. Ranges from dense, herbaceous and buttery to sweet caramel or sharp, salty and spicy. Blue cheeses can be crumbly and damp with a metallic tang. Often display veins of blue and commanding aromas.
Flavor Added Cheeses (FAC)- Varied kinds where ingredients are meshed, naturally smoked, or rind is flavored. Majority is broken up and reformed with added ingredients, sweet dried fruits, seasonings, nuts, seeds, herbs, creative blendings. They are deli counter standouts.
Thinking of them like this is pretty helpful to me. So I thought I’d pass it on…
There are some places in town such as Datz on Macdill , Bin 27 and Mise en Plas on Kennedy that can fix you up an excellent tray of exotic cheeses and the lot. Those establishments are good place to experiment with wine and cheese in a setting outside the home. Sometimes that’s all you need. A couple of bottles of wine and a couple of cheese platters are great for sharing and very filling.
It is totally in good taste to ask your server to help you select. Even if they don’t know that much about the cheeses, they should be able to distinguish for you whether it’s a fresh cheese, soft white cheese, semi-soft cheese, hard cheese or blue cheese. That’s where the fun begins.
A semi-white cheese like Camembert will have a creamy interior with a mushroomy taste and melds well with several wines like a Chardonnay(Burgundy or California) or a Cabernet Sauvignon(Bordeaux or California) even California Zinfandel. How about Spanish Tempranillo! A Brie may yield similar flavor notes. Feeling frisky? A hard cheese like Cheddar would be a great partner with the same wines. It’s great to experiment and pay attention. It’ll just make you say “sheesh that’s cheese!” it tastes darn good and the flavors can be out of left field.
Your local Publix has a spreadable cheese made in France that apparently went through almost a year of back and forward taste testings to get it right for the American market. So you can imagine there was a lot of compromise and debate on what’s good and not. French cheese is sometimes hard to get over here in the states for the masses to enjoy. It’s called Creme de Saint Agur. Check it out and try it with some grapes, figs or blackberry jam. Glop in the bread and crackers! It’s a fine place to start if you want to jump in with both feet in a general way.
Thomas Jefferson once famously said, “No nation is drunken where wine is cheap and none sober where the dearness of wine substitutes arden sprits as the common beverage…” He cared about the social pace of fine wine dining but he wanted to make a less formal atmosphere at his parties. He was determined that a mellow atmosphere with good wines added up to a more cordial acceptance of his suggestions for running the country.
As we gear up for the 4th of July holiday, barbecue and good friends come to mind as well as great wine. Grilling requires mature, full reds with tannins and heavy dark fruit. While grilling, use intense heat to seal all the juices in the meat and form a crusty outside whether it red meat, sausages or chicken. Since grilling uses high heat it’s fast. Think Red Zinfandel or a young Bordeaux from Cotes de Castillon. Since BBQ is is genarally heavy it matches well with heavier rustic wines. Think Oaky rich and fruity whites as well, like a Washington Reisling. The intense smokey flavors bounce on the palate. Put out some figs, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon and seedless grapes along a healthy serving of Camambert, Stilton, Spanish Manchego and Irish Cheddar and you have the makings of a great holiday spread.
Yes, cheeses are great too at the barbecue! Try the Camambert with the Bordeaux and watch your eyes roll back. Then try it with the cheddar and so on. Induldge! Invite your friends and family over and make sure you talk about the wine and how it all works because it does. Your holiday gang will appreciate it and to think this thought bubble all started with musing about Thomas Jefferson and a great real old book from the past called Jefferson and Wine by the Vineferas Wine Growers Association; nevertheless have great fourth!
We all know that Spanish food is very tasty, colorful and very diverse and so are the wines. Sausages are a major staple. There’s lots of good ones especially all those flavorsome Chorizos.
One killer is Sobrasada; a soft semi soft Chorizo with pork, garlic, vinegars, sea salt and paprika. It’s usually spread on crunchy bread and toasted until it melts. Grilled onions only add to this incredible sausage. Sobrasada has a smooth texture and smoky flavor that is hard to match.
Another great one is Butifarra. It looks a little like Bratwurst but Oh boy! It sure has a lot more flavor, probably the most popular sausage. Any restaurant in the countryside, usually serves Butifarra in one form or another.
Often you will find these sausages grilled, accompanied with white beans, mushrooms, onions, apples or sliced into hearty soups or yellow rice dishes. It’s great with eggs and Swiss cheese for breakfast.
Speaking of Cheese; these Chorizo and Spanish sausages pair well with Manchego cheese and blue Roquefort. There’s also a goat cheese called the ‘Drunken Goat’ which is regularly available that is dunked in red wine that is a perfect compliment.
When you serve these sausages some of that great Spanish wine is a must. Rioja has its Tempranillo. It’s sort of the national wine, arguably their greatest grape. It’s juicy, dusty, spicy with loads of strawberry, leather and tobacco notes. Ribera del Duero and Toro have their versions that are concentrated with bigger cherry, spicy and earthy flavors.
Priorat also has excellent wines that are Garnacha based that go well with the sausages that are incredibly rich, rustic, full bodied with fruit cake, licorice and plum flavors that compare to France’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape or even Pomerol wines.
Try to seek out these great Spanish wines to serve with the sausages and cheese that are among the best in quality and value. They are high scoring on many best of lists and give a great representation of what is awesome about Spanish wines these days. Las Rocas Vinas Viejas (from San Alejandro), Marge(from Priorat) and Termes by Bodegas Numanthia (from Toro). Another really good one is Lan, a Rioja Tempranillo in a classic style old world style. So dig in and enjoy!