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Jun 25, 2007 09:55 AM

French cheese with wine pairing

So the cheese I have is bucheron, fromager d'affinois with herbs, st. andre and a french blue (not roquefort...I forget the name at the moment). What would be a suitable wine choice to go with all of those cheeses?

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  1. Vouvray demi-sec should do the trick. Phillipe Foreau "Clos de Naudin" would be my first choice with Huet or Pichot running second and third.

    1. Well, break each cheese down separately first:

      BUCHERON. Very wine-friendly cheese that matches a wide variety of whites AND reds. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet (and cab/merlot blends), Rioja, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and ZInfandel are all 8.00 or greater matches for me. Sauvignon Blanc may be the single-best, but they are all excellent.

      D'AFFINOIS w/ HERBS. Chardonnay, Rioja, and Zinfandel all match the basic cheese quite well. Likely the "herbs" contain a fair amount of garlic and that may argue slightly more for the Chardonnay.

      ST. ANDRE. Very similar in matching profile to the Fromager D'Affinois, IMO. Go with Chardonnay, Rioja, or Zinfandel.

      "FRENCH BLUE CHEESE". Since you left this unspecified, we're talking a wide range of cheeses. To generalize, I'd suggest looking at the origin. If this is a Sheep's milk blue cheese (like a roquefort), then favor Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, or a rich dessert wine like Sauternes. If a blue cheese from cow's milk, look at Rioja or Syrah.

      Now which is the best wine(s) to serve with this 4-cheese platter? The common denominators, IMO, are Chardonnay, Rioja, and Zinfandel... they match every cheese reasonably well and some superbly. Boil it down to a "red and white" and go with Chardonnay (for sure) and either a nice Rioja or Zinfandel (the best you have of either).

      IF you choose Chardonnay and Rioja, then consider also adding the following cheeses that are excellent matches for both: Comte and (from neighboring Switzerland), Gruyere.

      If you go with Chardonnay and Zinfandel, then for comparison and contrast, throw in a terrific Italian match for both... Parmesan Reggiano.

      Enjoy and please report back.

      27 Replies
      1. re: Chicago Mike

        With all do respect...IMO Zin or Rioja with Bucheron or St. Andre would be an absolute distaster! Just about any dry or sweet Loire Valley white (okay, perhaps not Muscadet) would pair nicely with all of the cheeses listed above. I still stand on the recommendation of Vouvray having enough lattitude...though I would expand the suggestion to Anjou Blanc, Savenierres, Coteaux du Layon and Sparkling Saumur as well. If red is a must, perhaps a Sancerre rouge or Bourgeuil.

        Rule of thumb for matching wine & cheese: match the wine of the region with the cheese of the region...Sancerre w/ Crottin, Gevrey-Chambertin w/ Epoisses, Grand Cru Gewurztraminer w/ Munster, etc.

        1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

          I'm in agreement with Vinny here, Mike, sorry. red wine with Bucheron or St. Andre would fight like mad with the cheese. St. Andre actually goes extremely well with a light, fruity rosé! Loire Valley wines are good with most of this list.

          the only wine that would be "really great" with all the Cheeses, is Champagne.

          The classic wine with Roquefort is Sauternes, but that may not favor the blue that you have.

          1. re: ChefJune

            Well, we have a difference of palates and perhaps doctrine here...

            These actually aren't very complicated cheeses...

            As for the BUCHERON, this is very much a mainline Chevre which matches splendidly with a wide variety of both red and white wines. Among reds, per my actual tastings it scores 8.00 out of 10.00 with Cabernet, Cab/Merlot, Rioja, Pinot noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel... by comparison Chardonnay is also an 8.00 match and Sauvignon Blanc best of all at 8.50. It may "sound" counter-intuitive to match Chevre with a red wine but by my palate it's a delicious combination.

            As for ST. ANDRE, again a rather straightforward creamy cheese on the Brie/Camembert spectrum, it matches reasonably well (7.50) with both rioja and Zinfandel per my tastings, surprisingly as well or better than Chardonnay at 7.00.

            I've not tasted Vouvray extensively with a wide-range of cheeses, so can't really comment, but with respect to Riesling I haven't found it a particularly interesting match with Bucheron, St. Andre, or Blue Cheeses in general. It pairs splendidly, IMO with Gouda, Leyden, Colby, and especially Emmental (a rare 8.50 score).

            Ditto for Gewurztraminer which I haven't found to match Bucheron, St. Andre, or Blue Cheeses very well... Like riesling, Gewurztraminer is an exceptional match for Emmental and even nicer with it's cousin, Gruyere at 8.50.... the primary reason that Gewurz is "the" fondue wine.

            It is, as one poster noted, an interesting range of cheeses presented, and a challenge to find ONE wine to match them all... at the end of the day, IMO you need to at least one white and one red to cover it, and that's what I based my recs on, the most consistent denominators to these cheeses.

            1. re: Chicago Mike

              Definitely different palates. Zinfandel with Bucheron ... gak.

              St. Andre is so rich and creamy it can get along with almost anything except maybe a super-grapefruity sauvignon blanc.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Exactly.... you have to actually TRY rich red wines with a Chevre, it's not a taste combination that "sounds" appealing.

                1. re: Chicago Mike

                  I've tried all sorts of combinations--many's the time I've had half a dozen or more wines with as many cheeses.

                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                    It's not a combination that TASTES appealing, either . . . at least to me. I've had it, and hated it!

                    This doesn't mean that you are somehow "wrong" for liking it -- different strokes for different folks, and all that -- but rather, when you invite me over for some cheve, you just need to remind me to bring some Vouvray or Sancerre . . . ;^)


                2. re: Chicago Mike

                  *the primary reason that Gewurz is "the" fondue wine.*

                  Says who?

                  References I have close at hand:
                  - Hugh Johnson: Valais Fendant or other Swiss Chasselas, Gruner Veltliner, Alsace Riesling or Pinot Gris
                  - Phaneuf: Fendant, Neuchâtel, Riesling, dry Anjou blanc

                  None of my French French wine books, wine-pairing guides or cookbooks even mention wine matches for cheese fondue, the assumption likely being that everybody knows you should open a sharp dry white from the appropriate region (Fendant for fondue suisse, a vin de Savoie for fondue savoyarde, etc.). As far as I know, there is no fondue alsacienne. Gewurztraminer I don't recall ever being recommended for anything cheesey except Munster, especially Munster with cumin seeds. For Gruyère, Comté, Beaufort and their kin, the standard recco is a dry, minerally white (Seyssel, Chablis, Côtes-du-Jura, Arbois, Vin de Savoie, Meursault, Côtes du Luberon), a vin jaune (for aged Comté) or a supple yet structured red, but rarely Riesling and never, in my not inconsiderable experience, Gewurztraminer. While I don't agree with you here -- or with your (to me) jaw-dropping repeated assertion that Pinot Noir is excellent with Roquefort, to take but one additional example -- I'm the first to admit that there's no disputing taste. Nor am I opposed to challenging convention. But to present such out-in-left-field findings as universal truths ("Gewurz is 'the' fondue wine") is simply wrong.

                  1. re: carswell

                    Alsatian gewurtztraminer's the fondue wine at my house. Not to put in the fondue (for that I prefer riesling), but to drink with it. I also like Apremont or Abymes, but most of my friends aren't as big fans. Swiss wine is way too expensive for the quality (even in Switzerland).

                    There is such a dish as fondue Alsacienne, but it's meat, not cheese.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      What you drink at home is irrelevant to the point under discussion, namely that it's wrong to imply that Gewurztraminer THE wine -- the only wine, the consensus choice as the best wine -- for cheese fondue. While out on errands a while ago, I stopped by the city's biggest French-language bookstore and glanced through the wine-pairing books: not a single one of the half dozen volumes I checked recommended Gewurztraminer with any kind of fondue. It is not a truth universally acknowledged that a cheese fondue must be in want of a Gewurztraminer.

                      "There is such a dish as fondue Alsacienne, but it's meat, not cheese."
                      I should have googled first. Let me rephrase then. Fondue alsacienne is not one of the classic fondues. It's not mentioned in the Larousse Gastro (1988 edition), The Oxford Companion to Food or any of my many French cookbooks, including two fairly extensive volumes on Alsatian cooking. I've never seen it on the menu of an Alsatian restaurant. Nor do I recall reading a reference to it in any narrative work, though I appear to have misplaced Root's *The Food of France* and so can't check what is surely one of the more valuable sources. I suspect the dish is a modern-day construct, much like Hawaiian pizza and Italian poutine. And while some of the recipes do call for veal, there are also cheese versions, usually involving Munster and Gruyère. Meat or cheese, none of the recipes I looked at recommended Gewurztraminer as a wine pairing.

                      1. re: carswell

                        Hey Cars...

                        Well "says who"... Says me, lol. I'm the source for my own posts, I don't have to refer to a littany of Wine cookbooks.... Further to that point, I've spent hours, probably weeks in libraries pouring through wine and food cookbooks and can tell you this... that the degree to which they contradict each other is startling... thats why I've come to the conclusion that the only meaningful reference is your own palate...

                        As for gewurztraminer being "the" fondue wine, the primary reason I posted that is because Gewurztraminer is such a tremendous matchup for Emmental and Gruyere cheeses, the primary cheeses you'll find at most US fondue shops these days.

                        If the fondue uses other cheeses, then that's a totally different story, but in the US I find Gruyere in fondues most frequently.

                        I'd match Chardonnay with Comte, for example, my favorite wine with that cheese, but I don't find it in fondue in the States that often....

                        Also, I'm curious, do you not like Gewurztraminer and Gruyere and / or emmentaler ? From your post it sounds like you've never paired them and, IMO, they are among the greatest wine & cheese matches... but reach your own conclusions.

                        1. re: carswell

                          Have you ever tasted Gewurztraminer and Gruyere ?? If not, you're in for a treat.

                          1. re: Chicago Mike

                            "Have you ever tasted Gewurztraminer and Gruyere ?? If not, you're in for a treat."

                            Yes. No special synergy there as far as I'm concerned. Jura whites make a far better match.

                            1. re: carswell

                              so, by your comments I take it you consider Gewurztraminer and Gruyere to be a very mediocre wine & cheese combination because there are others that are "far" better...

                              As for "jura whites" I personally rate Chardonnay as an 8.00 match with gruyere, just slightly below Gewurztraminer at 8.50

                              Also, as far as the "classic" match of Gewurz and Munster goes, while I don't find it unpleasant, there's nothing exceptional about it and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as a "top" wine & cheese match. The flavors don't blend particularly well, IMO, and the cumin/caraway doesn't add much to the experience... it's a fair match at best, It is however touted in most wine & food books, as you've noted, as being such a great delight.

                              1. re: Chicago Mike

                                You're putting words into my mouth but, yes, as a match it's nothing to get excited about. Not gak-inducing like Zin or Rioja + chèvre or St-André, however, let alone Pinot Noir + Roquefort.

                                1. re: carswell

                                  I personally score Pinot and Roquefort at around an 8.00, about the same as your Jura chard and Gruyere...

                                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                                    Jura whites are not necessarily Chardonnay. Many of the best and most distinctive are 100% Savagnin, which can be ullaged to various degrees or unullaged, or Savagnin-Chardonnay blends. Vin jaune, agruably the finest match with aged raw-milk Comté, is 100% ullaged Savagnin.

                                    1. re: carswell

                                      Well that's promising...

                                      Chardonnay is certainly a great match with Comte, I score it around 8.00 from my tastings... and if Savagnin is better, that's something to look forward to!

                                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                                        For what it's worth, I like a aged goat cheese by Cypress Grove called Midnight Moon. It's awesome. I guess I've only drank it with a good Pinot (Belle Gloss - clarke and telephone or Gypsy Dancer), so I wonder if you would recommend drinking it with a white. If so, which white? FYI, favorite restaurant in Chicago is Spiaggia.

                                        1. re: FDawson

                                          Spiaggia is gorgeous...

                                          Thanks for the tip re Midnight Moon...As for which white wine(s) to have with "aged goat cheese" the answer is probably dependent on how aged the cheese is...

                                          If it's a rinded chevre, mildly aged then in whites I'd personally look at Chardonnay and perhaps especially Sauvignon Blanc...

                                          If it's extensively-aged then you might prefer a somewhat sweeter white or even a dessert white.

                                          Interesting that you find it a good match with Pinot Noir... see a recent cheese/wine thread I've posted which includes Pinot and both fresh domestic chevre and Bucheron. Pinot matched good to very good with both...

                                          1. re: Chicago Mike

                                            Thanks. I'll try the Pinot with Bucheron and a fresh domestic chevre. For some reason I haven't been a very big white wine drinker for more than 5 years. I probably made the turn to red, and specifically Pinot, after becoming addicted to the movie, Sideways. Probably sounds shallow, but that was a great movie.

                                2. re: Chicago Mike

                                  "Chardonnay" is a very broad category that includes too many radically different wines to generalize about what they go well with.

                                  Same to a lesser extent goes for pinot noir.

                                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                                    Yesterday I searched this board for wine recs for cheese fondue, and so we bought a Trimbach Gewurtztraminer (a favorite) and an Haute-Cotes de Beaune. The gewurtztraminer was definitely a no go for us with the fondue - both thought it was too rich in a way for the fondue, and much preferred the slightly chilled pinot noir. I did use some fontina and emmenthaler, though mostly gruyere.

                          2. re: carswell

                            Last time I had fondue (in Geneva) our group drank chasselas...viturally every other table in the the restaurant was drinking beer (go figure). Totally agreed on Jura wines with Comte and Beaufort.. L'Etoile is particularly good with younger cheeses. For reds with Jura cheeses, Poulsard and Trousseau both work, though I prefer an Arbois or L'Etoile white.

                        2. re: ChefJune

                          "red wine with Bucheron or St. Andre would fight like mad with the cheese."

                          Exactly. And I find the wine suffers more than the cheese -- the cheese makes it taste flat.

                            1. re: zin1953

                              Maybe you're drinking bad zinfandel.

                              I'm having a youngish 2003 from the tremendous '03 vintage in the Dry Creek region... It's a very good match with Bucheron, wouldn't call it mind blowing but there's nothing not to like and what is particularly striking is the very pleasant aftertaste... This is just further example that the idea that Chevre doesn't match well with rich reds is just nonsense.

                              As for St. Andre, the key is to serve the cheese on a cracker or toast point if you're doing red wine. This is such a buttery cheese that the butter will remain as a "film" if you serve the cheese straight. I often note this "oily" dimension with brie/camembert/(st.andre) with zin... just use some crackers to tame it.... It's not a fantastic match with zin (chevre is better), but it's not unpleasant...

                              Regardless of what you think of Chevre and Zin, don't miss these 2003's Zins from Dry Creek, the fruit is incredible.

                    2. If you are looking for one wine to pair with all 4 cheeses but are willing to spend some $$$ I would probably have to go with a very young White Hermitage (they then go through a dumb phase, then turn into something great but different) or a similar (Roussanne, perhaps Marssanne based) white Rhone (White Beaucastel, Chapoutier St. Joseph les Grantis blanc, etc). The caveat here is that some blues woul overpower this reccomendation -- not knowing how strong a blue it is, it is hard to be certain.

                      Other than that, a fuller-bodied Loire (probably off-dry, but concievably dry) or a just-off-dry Tokay Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer from Alsace should do the trick.

                      1. Izzizzi -- There is no ONE answer. If there were, you could go into your local wine shop and buy a bottle of Shatoe San Andray, secure in the knowledge that no wine on the planet is better with St. Andre than that.

                        In other words, drink what you like with what you want to drink it with.

                        That said, I agree with Vinny -- my first choice would be a Vouvray demi-sec or even a sec tendre, as well.

                        1. Third on off-dry Vouvray. A nice off-dry riesling with good acidity would work.

                          That's a wide range of cheeses and most wines would clash with at least one.