The Event
Cheese and Wine
© by Sheral Schowe
Any season is appropriate for a cheese and wine party, particularly at this time of year where the need for a fast yet festive food and wine pairing is in order. But which cheese to serve with which wine?

If you have had the painful experience of attending the pairings of the uninformed and well intended, you know that boxed wine does not lend itself to a satisfying experience, even with those American cheese slices. In the chemical additive competition, it would be hard to determine, in fact, which one of these produced that post-party headache.

The most successful wine and cheese pairings I have attended were staged in this format: Each guest is invited to bring a bottle of their favorite wine (note the word "bottle") with their favorite cheese. One party had a European theme, where the guests brought a bottle of wine from a certain country with cheese from the same country. Not always are the individual pairings ideal, but with the wide selections of wines and the variety of cheeses available, everyone is sure to find their personal favorite.

The hysterically comical, yet intriguingly educational wine expert, Josh Wesson has on many occasions, discussed this very subject. His philosophy is to find balance. "Don't have the wine step all over the food nor the food step all over the wine. Two different flavors can be synergistic, producing a third flavor experience."

Here are a few cheese and wine pairing suggestions, keeping the affordability factor in mind. A Spanish cava such as Paul Cheneau is delicious with Regiano Parmesan. Goulaine Vouvray, a Chenin Blanc from the Loire with Camembert. Just about any Sauvignon Blanc such as Sancerre or Pouilly Fume from France or one from New Zealand or Australia pairs surprisingly well with Chevre (goat cheese). The high acid in the wine matches perfectly with the pungent acidity in the cheese. You can always lay out the baked Brie with a domestic sparkling wine or Chardonnay, but trying new cheeses can be an interesting experience.

As for the red wines, I enjoy an old vines Zinfandel from California with Buffalo Mozzarella. The cheese mellows out the Zinfandel, and the wine makes the cheese seem richer. Lockwood Sangiovese from Monterey or an Italian Chianti is an excellent match for Gruyere.

Cheddar cheese is one item on the plate most people would think to be an inferior pairing with wine. Aged Vermont Cheddar is an exception to the rule when it is matched with a Shiraz or Shiraz Cabernet from Australia.

The grand finale to any cheese and wine pairing is a blue-veined cheese paired with Port. It produces a toffee-like characteristic, which is a surprisingly delicious experience.

The key to success of these events is variety. Offering a wide array of both wines and foods will make your party successful, interesting, and enjoyable.

Oct. 17, 2000

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