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Wine for Thought: An introduction to wine and cheese

July 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Wine and Cheese

In this week’s Cocktail Fodder “Wine for Thought,” I want to talk about pairing wine with cheese. Wine and cheese just makes sense together and have been enjoyed that way since the beginning of time. The Greeks were even known to grate cheese directly into their wine goblets! Blasphemy by today’s standards, but maybe they were onto something like they were with democracy. Anyway, if paired correctly, wine and cheese can enhance your overall food experience and allow you to better appreciate both. Discovering new tasting notes on a wine, by way of cheese, is quite the rewarding gastronomical experience.

A Caves Saint-Pierre Vacqueyras

I came into the shop yesterday and enjoyed an impromptu wine and cheese pairing with my co-worker Sarah. We chose a southern Côtes du Rhône from Vacqueyras that was 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah. After letting the wine aerate for some time, we took a sip and made our initial tasting notes: the nose was earthy and vegetal, while the palate exhibited a prominent yet balanced acidity with hints of ripe berries. Acidity is the chemical property (pH) in wine that makes your taste buds perk up and tickle. After the initial taste, I strolled over to Barnyard to pick up two cheeses to match up with the wine. Since the wine had a bright acidity, I decided that semi-soft cheeses were the order of the day. With pairing, you can either mirror or contrast the wine and cheese. In this instance, I chose to contrast. I went with a delicious French goat cheese called Bucherondin and a triple-crème-style cheese known as Pierre Robert. The Bucherondin was delicious with a crumbling claylike consistency and slight tangy flavor, while the Pierre Robert was creamier with an even more pronounced tanginess.

The Bucherondin succeeded in softening the wine’s acidity on the palate while allowing the fruit to come through. (Success!) The Pierre Robert was an interesting pairing with the Vacqueyras in that it seemed to prop up the acidity on the palate. I honestly think I came up short with the Pierre Robert pairing. Sarah and I were both craving soft cheeses — goat cheese in particular — so both cheeses allowed us to discover what worked and what didn’t. To add a wrinkle to the story, Sarah preferred the Pierre Robert over the Bucherondin with the wine. The moral of the story: to enjoy wine, there are no rules just guidelines.

Here is an informative website with general guidelines for pairing wine with cheese.

Sip on!