"Would you like some cheese with your whine?"
Wine and cheese can be a match made in heaven when correctly paired together. There are many similarities between these products, including that they are hand-made, age well and are temperature dependent. The temperature of the cheese has just as much impact as the temperature of the wine. Cheese really should be eaten at room temperature, which allows the flavors and aromas to fully open. If the cheese is served too cold, it can taste quite bland. Additionally, the textures of softer cheese become more consistent as they warm up. As a general rule, remove cheese from the refrigerator about 45 minutes prior to serving.
In terms of wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon tastes the best at about 65 degrees, while a Chardonnay should be served at about 55 degrees and Champagnes and sparkling wines show off their best flavors around 45 degrees.
It possible's to put together a cheese platter for a group of friends while serving both white and red wines. Camembert, Gouda and Parmesan pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and sparkling wines. Brie and Gruyere are good matches for Chardonnay and Sparkling, but their textures don't always stand up to the dryer red wines. Interestingly enough, Cheddar goes well with dry red and sparkling wines. Then there is the classic pairing of Danish Blue and Cabernet Sauvignon, but this cheese can overpower most white wines.
The Domaine Ste. Mi
chelle Brut from Columbia Valley, Wash., is one of my favorite inexpensive sparkling wines. It is a NV (non vintage), so it tastes the same regardless of the year. This value priced wine retails for approximately $11 a bottle. The citrus flavors in this wine pair well with the buttery flavors of the Camembert; with the creamy, nutty flavors of the Gouda being a close second.
The 2011 Estancia Chardonnay from Monterey County Pinnacles Ranches is a nice value at $11 a bottle. This Chardonnay tastes crisp with citrus aromas and flavors of pear and vanilla. This wine goes best with the somewhat nutty, but not overpowering flavors of the Gruyere.
The 2008 Gallo Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon is a good match with the sharp, spicy flavors of a Danish Blue cheese. This Cabernet received an 87 rating by the Wine Spectator and is a value at approximately $14 a bottle.
Deciding exactly which cheese to use to put together a platter can be quite interesting. I have always found it best to serve more than one varietal when entertaining. Next time you have friends over, try a cheese platter with wine, it is interesting to listen to your guests comments when they taste that perfect match of wine and cheese.
Jim Rawe, a family attorney in Bradenton, is an avid collector of fine wines. His column appears weekly.
He can be reached at email@example.com.