Savor the flavors, textures of wine and cheese pairing
Consider the age-old saw about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. When applied to the gastronomic realm, the artful pairing of wine and cheese proves the saying time and again.
Some wines and cheeses enjoyed together just have a way of making the flavors and textures of each taste all the better. But, because matters of taste remain highly personal, the proof comes only in cutting the cheeses and pouring the wines.
Try the following suggestions to see if they create heavenly pairings for your taste buds:
In the France's Franche-Comté region, the famous red and white mottled Montbéliard cattle graze in open pastures. The diet of native grasses and wildflowers common to the French Alps translates in flavorful, rich milk converted into various cheeses, including Morbier.
A distinctive, tasteless layer of black ash running through the middle of the cheese creates an easily recognizable trademark. Morbier arrives with pungent, earthy aromas and offers a creamy, moist texture with mild, earthy flavors and delicious nuttiness. A pleasantly bitter finish ensues.
Morbier pairs beautifully with the 2011 Pierre Boniface, Apremont, Vin de Savoie, France (Luxury 26437; $14.99). The vineyards lie in the Savoie French Alps, just south of Morbier's production area in the Jura.
Made from jacquère grapes grown in Apremont — one of 17 villages in the Vin de Savoie appellation — the wine features delicate white floral, citrus and pear aromas in contrast to Morbier's mild earthiness. Fermentation in stainless-steel frames the lovely aromas, while bottling without aging in oak maintains the wine's freshness. Highly recommended.
In French, a “bûche” refers to a “log.” So, logically, Bûcheron cheese from the Loire Valley comes in short logs eventually sliced into round pieces for retail sale. Goats grazing on stony pasture land similar to the sauvignon blanc vineyards nearby provide the milk.
With Bûcheron, the goat's cheese — also known generically in French as chèvre — develops unique and intriguingly delicious flavors and textures. The edible exterior rind adds light, earthy notes over a creamy outer ring. The creaminess results from aging for five to 10 weeks prior to release.
Meanwhile, Bûcheron's dense, yet fresh, center has a crumbly, claylike texture that melts in the mouth with tangy lemon flavors. It provides a delightful contrast with the outer ring's gooeyness. The cheese spreads easily on crackers or baguette slices.
Pair it with the equally delightful 2010 Domaine Philippe Portier, Quincy “Cuvée des Victoires,” France (Luxury 33031; Chairman's Selection On Sale: $12.99).
Portier's sauvignon blanc vines grow in a combination of sand, clay and gravelly soils along the Cher River leading to Tours in the Loire Valley. The soils combine with the Quincy appellation's relatively cool, continental climate to ripen the fruit to perfection. Lovely, vivid fruitiness balances with vibrant acidity.
Fermentation in stainless-steel tanks at cool temperatures preserves the fruit's innate freshness. Several months of aging in the tanks with the lees (the spent yeast cells) adds pleasant creamy notes in parallel with the cheese's texture.
The wine opens with grapefruit and quince aromas with notes of guava. Fruity citrus and passion fruit flavors unfold in the glass balanced by refreshing acidity. The wine's fruity, yet dry, finish provides a perfect foil to the Bûcheron's light earthiness. Highly recommended.
Cambozola, a German cow's milk cheese, combines Brie's tremendous creamy richness with Italian Gorgonzola's blue tang. Unlike the more intensely flavored Gorgonzola, Cambozola features subtle blue-cheese flavors and smoother texture.
The 2011 Weingut Pfeffingen, Scheurebe Dry, Rhinepfalz, Germany (Luxury 39807; $21.99) provides the perfect foil. Produced by a family-owned estate with roots extending back to 1622, the wines uses Scheurebe (pronounced “shoy ray beh”), a variety rarely seen in American markets.
This cross between riesling and silvaner grows particularly well in the Pfalz's relatively sunny and warm climate. Scheurebe's terrific acidity contrasts with Cambozola's creaminess.
The wine opens with honey, peach and currant aromas. Vibrant citrus, pineapple and apple flavors balance with the crisp acidity. The wine may “smell sweet,” but it finishes dry and beautifully balanced. Highly recommended.
Dave DeSimone is the wine writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.