Culture: How to pair your cheese with wine
Want to learn a good party trick? Put on an epic cheese platter. Even better, pair it with the right wine. You will leave your guests calling you Marco, despite the fact that you can’t actually cook.
You see, coming from a European background, which included cooking lessons at the age of 6 and helping host intricate dinner parties at 10, would usually allude to some pretty epic cooking skills. That is if one lived in an ideal world and if one didn’t spend their time eating instead of whisking at these parties. But not ones to sink, we quickly learnt the benefits of an Instagram worthy cheese spreads in fulfilling our birth given job to host good dinner parties. Fill them up with enough Brie and wine and they will forget that you never served a second course, or any course for that matter!
With pre-drinks and post-show dinner parties set to fill our Adelaide Fashion Festival calendars, we asked Kris Loyd from Woodside Cheese to help up our platter game by helping us pair wines as God intended.
From my own experience, the strong flavours of red wine wipe out the delicate flavours of many cheeses. On the other hand, many white wines can boast high acidity, which interferes with the natural acids that occur particularly in goat cheese.
You have to take into account the different styles of cheese – White mould, fresh, blue, hard, soft – there is no one perfect wine for all of them and while white beats out red when it comes to versatility… Bubbles/ Fizz / Sparkling takes the cake.
That’s right, in all my years of trying and testing; I enjoyed cheese most when accompanied with a crisp flute of champagne. And maybe some dried fruit. Throw in some crackers too.
I find the high fat content in cheese can often leave your mouth with an almost ‘sticky’ feeling. This is where the carbonation of the sparkling comes into play, creating a dialogue with that cheesy residue that wipes your palate clean. It leaves you wanting more cheese, which makes you want more bubbles… A slippery slope I know but nonetheless a rather enjoyable one.
In general, a good sparkling wine is slightly more aromatic and yeasty with only a crisp, momentary bite of acidity in the mouth. While they can vary toward a more full-bodied and lush taste, there is a level of crispness and intensity always present, courtesy of the hundreds and thousands of tiny bubbles, which is why I believe it complements cheese the best.
Lighter, brighter sparkling wines and Champagne pair well with creamy cheeses that have high butterfat content. Test it out with a double or triple cream Brie and you will be able to feel the bubbles cut through the mouth-coating richness. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, try our Harlequin (a super smooth rich and buttery cheese) paired with a yeasty sparkling, some fresh strawberries and I assure you it will blow your mind.
If you are more partial to a full bodied sparkling then try traditional Champagne that has undergone a secondary ferment in the bottle. That time spent delivers complexity and toasty, bready notes that work well with slightly more pungent cheeses, try the Kris Lloyd Artisan washed rinds with this you’ll find the Champagne echoes the nutty notes found in the cheese.
And let’s not forget Prosecco! The Italian speciality that has undergone a secondary fermentation. Prosecco tends to be dryer than other sparkling wines working brilliantly with Chevre (goat cheese) of all forms
as it collects and lifts the sweetness in the cheese. Whether the cheese is rinded or fresh, the acid development in the cheese is truly complimented by the yeasty nature of the wine.
A great bubble does not need to cost you the earth. Look beyond Champagne and you will discover a host of well made options including many produced in Australia.