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Sep 29, 2007 02:47 PM

Wine and cheese... now what?

So I thought I'd do a wine and cheese pairing (which I've never done myself) and I picked out some wines that we like (Albarino, Montepulciano , and Prosecco). I took my list to the cheese market and this is what was recommended...
Brie Brillat Savarin
My questions are: Are you supposed to pair a particular wine with each cheese or do you just enjoy everything together? I also bought a baguette, fresh figs, and some crostini. Do I put this on my cheese platter?

If these wines maybe don't work I've also got Cab, Pinot Noir, Chard, SB and Shiraz. I just thought I'd like to try some that I don't have very often. I'm also making grilled chipotle shrimp... would any of my original wine work with this or do you have a better suggestion. Thanks to anyone who can give me some direction!

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  1. A great deal of it depends on what YOU want to happen. If you structure it as a cheese & wine tasting, then I’d pour each wine, for each guest, then present the cheeses. To have a bit of fun, one might want to serve the cheeses and the wines, without instructions, and ask the guests to taste each cheese with each wine and make their determination of which ones worked the best. You might want to print up little cards for them to “score” the pairings, listing all cheeses on one column, and all wines on another. Give them some room to fill in the box, for say each cheese, with the number, or letter, of each wine. I’d also have another card, probably in a sealed envelope, that had the “suggested” pairings, to see how they did against the cheese shop personnel. There are really no “right” answers, as it’s up to each guest’s palate. I’ve entered into long discussions with folk on the CH boards, who swear that Chardonnay will never pair with a triple-creme Brie. To me, it’s a match made in Heaven. Apparently to others, it’s shear heresy.

    I normally do my cheese course at the end of the meal, and try to structure the cheeses to go with the wines, that I think will be left, or plan on serving additional wines, for these particular cheeses.

    Since you’re doing a sparkler, a lighter white and a mid-bodied red, you will not have ruined the palate of the guests, just with the cheeses.

    Though I’d often look to some of the lighter whites with shrimp, the Chipotle might well call for something like a Riesling. Depending on the level of heat, you might be able to get by with a fruit-driven PN, though at first blush, I’d think Riesling, at the Spätlese level.

    As for the bread and fig, I’d have them on the cheese plates and encourage the guests to try the cheeses alone with the wines, then add the figs, or whatever else you might want to add, and see how the pairings change. Since the math gets a bit heavy here, I’d only ask them to jot down the cheeses & wines on the card, but talk about the extras and how they change the pairings.

    Keep it fun. Keep it light. And, most of all, enjoy.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt

      Put out the food, put out the wine....and enjoy your guests! What you've selected will certainly work on all levels for a casual, friendly get together. Proably not a bad idea to have plenty of prosecco on hand (my guests tend to knock it back pretty quickly). Don't over think it....just enjoy.

      1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

        Thank you for the suggestions. The "guests" (my husband and I:)) enjoyed it very much. I always thought doing a wine and cheese pairing was complicated... turns out I was wrong. I can't wait to do it again. We're having friends for dinner soon and I'll be serving a cheese course at the end.

    2. CJ, you're covering alot of ground here.... you've listed no less than 8 wines, 3 cheeses, and a shrimp dish.

      Since your headline mentions cheeses, here's how I'd proceed... First off, your main dish is going to be the grilled Shrimp... so right there you know you'll probably not be serving any red wines with that... fine. Serve the Prosecco, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc with it...Albarino too if you like...

      Now that we've chosen our wines, lets get some cheeses that really match these wines wonderfully. You'll love it, your guests will love it, and perhaps most important you'll have "benchmarks" of great wine/cheese matches, so you'll know the bad matches when you taste them...

      FOR CHARDONNAY: Brie (which you have), Gruyere or Comte, and plain Chevre are all exceptional. Aged Gouda, Havarti, and Parmesan Reggiano also match fairly well.

      FOR SAUVIGNON BLANC: Chevre, Gruyere, Provolone Val Padana, and Tomme Basco are all exceptional.

      FOR ALBARINO: I've not done extensive cheese tastings with Albarino but would guess that Emmental, Aged Gouda, Gruyere, and Leyden would be potentially good to great matches...

      As for the other cheeses you mentioned, I've been rather disappointed with alot of matches with Manchego. As for Cambozola, it's a cream/blue hybrid that I can't recall doing a tasting on... my guess as to best match would be tempranillo given that it matches both rich creams and gorgonzola.

      As for how to lay out the tasting, I would suggest having a separate platter for each wine. So in this case you have a cheese platter for Chardonnay, and one for Sauvignon Blanc. Then your guests can stray off the beaten path and experiment with cross-mixing these matches. I like to serve cheeses without any other accompaniment except non-herbed thin water crackers, so nothing else gets in the way. If you start adding fruits and salamis, etc. then you're creating finger-food, not a true cheese & wine match IMO.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chicago Mike

        I think the original selection of Prosecco, Albariño, and Montepulciano would be a lot more interesting. Chipotle grilled shrimp would probably be fine with red wine. It's fun to have everything on the table so that people can try different combinations and see what they like--taste is highly individual.

        "Chardonnay" and "Sauvignon Blanc" cover a lot of different styles of wine.