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Dec 2, 2007 10:01 PM

Wines for these four cheeses?

I no cheesehound, but I can't resist:

1. Wensleydale, lemon or apricot, or not fruited, eaten in great gobs, and better than any chocolate bar I ever had;

2. White Stilton, fruited or not;

3. Kasseri;

4. Roquefort.

Could someone please suggest wines for each? Thanks.

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  1. I realize I forgot to indicate budget. I'd say....max., $20 to 25.

    1. ROQUEFORT: Sauternes is clear number one match here, a sublime combo. Also quite interesting with Zinfandel for different reasons. The Sauternes match is this ethereal smooth gourmet flavor combo whereas the zindandel is a bolder more dramatic experience. Very nice to try both and contrast the matches.

      KASSERI: Zinfandel, Cabernet... also Rioja and Syrah.

      WHITE STILTON: I prefer this with fruit and Sauternes again is the perfect match...

      Now, if I could only pick 2 wines for the above, they would clearly be Sauternes and Zinfandel... each wine will match 2 of the cheeses splendidly.... So work backwards to see what other cheeses you might add to this plate...

      Zin is a phenomenal match with Provolone Val Padana, which in turn is an interesting comparison/ contrast to Kasseri. Also matches Parmesan Reggiano out of this world... Other great cheeses with Zin include plain Chevre and very aged Cheddar (8 years is ideal).

      I've not done an extensive tasting with Wensleydale to speak from experience with it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chicago Mike

        Oooh, Mike, even though I indicated in the OP that I'm not head-over-heels about cheese, I do love Provolone...and I like to sneak little slivers of Reggiano from the pantry while I'm working in the kitchen...just to keep my strength up. Hmmm...maybe I do like cheese, after all. Thanks for all the suggestions. I really have no idea about natural affinities between specific wines and cheeses, besides the schoolyard advice, "dessert wines with dessert cheeses", which I think is probably about as informative and inviolable as "red wines with red food".

        1. re: MaggieRSN

          Keep in mind to use Val Padana provolone, not that "cylinder cheese" in U.S. delis.

      2. 1.Wensleydale, lemon or apricot, or not fruited. Not familiar with this.

        2. White Stilton. Bennett Lane White Maximus or Conundrum.
        Not a true Stilton with no blue mold or flavor, Instead, a white cheese with mild tang and folded-in dried fruit. The Apricot Stilton I've had was quite successfully paired with the Bennett Lane White Maxiumus at the winery itself. The BL WM is rather similar to Conundrum -- both are white wine blends, with floral/tropical aromatics from Muscat Canelli. I prefer the BL to the Conundrum -- it's more elegant, lighter in weight, and IIRC, with less RS or perception of RS. Or, a dessert Muscat Canelli. This is a sweet cheese, so it will make a dry red wine taste sour.

        3. Kasseri. Sauternes/Quarts de Chaume/Botrytised Wine.
        Tricky. I’m guessing here. This may be a case where a powerful, even resolved red might create cacaphony rather than harmony. I'm thinking sweet to foil the kasseri's specific tang and bite, that’s a bit different from that of Reggiano or Roquefort. If red, Rhone Syrah or Rioja, but probably not Cab or Zin.

        4. Roquefort. Easy. Sauternes/Quarts de Chaume/Botrytised Wine.

        I'm getting the idea you like a touch of sweet anyway, MaggieRSN.

        6 Replies
        1. re: maria lorraine

          Maria, you caught me. I do like a bit of sweet now and then, just not too much at all in my wines. Although...I suspect some of you here could introduce me to wines to which I never thought I'd succumb. ;-)

          Just curious...any Champagnes or sparkling wines you could see with the Apricot Stilton?

          1. re: maria lorraine

            The Bennett Lane White Maximus sounds interesting. Initially, I thought that you might have mis-typed Benton Lane, but did the research and found Bennett Lane, and they distribute to some local shops in Phoenix, so I'll give it a try. Being a Conundrum fan, especially for its food versatility, I appreciate having a similar wine, for similar purposes.


            1. re: Bill Hunt

              For the record, I enjoyed the one bottle of Bennett Lane Red Maximus (Bdx blend) that I had.

              1. re: AlabasterDisaster

                Yes, me too. And the QPR of the Red Maximus is pretty good for a California cabernet based blend. And don't worry Bill, I too thought it was Benton Lane at first.

                Per Maria's suggestion awhile back, again in connection with Conundrum, I tried to track down some White Maximus. Unfortunately, no luck. OTOH, I was able to track down the Beringer Alluvium Blanc. Fantastic! Never got to thank you Maria. I much prefer it to the Conundrum.

                1. re: mengathon

                  Conundrum, White Maximus, and Alluvium Blanc are all in the same Pantheon. Minor variations among them.

                  I really enjoyed the WM with a "choucroute" made with chicken apple sausage and very thinly sliced fennel and apples (lots of both) that over hours cooked down to resemble sauerkraut. Lots of WM in the cooking pot along the way, o' course. Neo-Alsatian and lip-smacking good.

                  1. re: mengathon

                    Agree on the QPR of the Bennett Lane Red Maximus, though the price has gone up. The blend changes slightly from year to year, almost always a Cab, Syrah, Merlot blend.

            2. I'm very much of the opinion that big dry reds don't work well with most cheeses. Others swear by the pairing. Only you can decide which camp you're in. And note that these reccos apply only to the unfruited cheeses.

              The Wensleydale and white Stilton can go with the same types of wine: a medium-weight white (unoaked Chardonnay; dry or off-dry Chenin; less than full-throttle Gewurztraminer, like those made in California and Italy; etc.) or lightly chilled light red (Beaujolais, Gamay Noir, most any red from the Savoie or Switzerland; etc.). Dry and off-dry apple cider and pear cider can be lovely. Sweet wines like late-harvest Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc can also work.

              Kasserei: medium-bodied whites will work fine here and so will light to medium-weight reds (an oft-repeated cheese and wine pairing rule is that the harder the cheese is, the more tannic the wine can be; there are of course plenty of exceptions). Another rule is to start looking for matches in the same area the food comes from, so think Greek: a white made from Roditis, Savtiano or Malagousia (alone or blended with international varieties like Chardonnay) or red made from Agioritiko (St.George). Similar whites from Italy (Tocai Friulano, Fiano di Avellino, Falanghina, etc.) or reds from Italy or Spain would also suggest themselves.

              Roquefort: Yes, the classic match is Sauternes, though the only way you'll find a decent one in your price range is by buying a half bottle. Some producers in "satellite" appellations like St-Croix du Mont and Loupiac make similar wines that are often much better values. Sweet Chenin from the Loire can be delicious. Roquefort shows dry reds in the worst possible light; if you insist on a red, look for something sweet, like a Banyuls, a Maury, a ruby, LBV or tawny Port, or a late-harvest Zin (but even then, don't get your hopes up).

              1 Reply
              1. re: carswell

                In fact, I was wondering about Greek wines with the Kasseri, carswell. So many delicious wines during my visits to Greece, but in the U.S., Greek winemaking it seems to be reduced to stereotypes we have about Retsinas. I don't really understand why the Greek wine industry has made more inroads here, considering what Spain is achieving, except that relationships between the Greek government and private interests can be so fractious and sometimes interfere with cooperative objectives.

                Unfortunately, I never took notes while in Greece, so thanks for noting some of the varieties.

              2. Roquefort- a Late Bottled Port.