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Adam Balic

Wine and Cheese

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I shall be taking part in a Wine + Cheese best match competition. My personal view is that most cheese wine combinations don't work. My wife (who I am in competion with) stole my idea (Sauternes and a salty blue cheese), so I am trying to come up with another good pairing. So far:

- Madeira and stilton or an aged Comte

- A Quincy or some other non-NZ Sav. Blanc and a Cherve

Any others?

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I don't know if this would fit within the guidelines of your competition, but some of the artisanal ciders coming out of the Northeast U.S. (Hudson Valley Cider is one, and I had a great one from New Hampshire at CraftBar the other night but the name escapes me) make a tremendous match with serious cheddar (something from New England if you want to add a regional element to the pairing, or something from Neal's Yard if you don't).

Sounds like fun!

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..... My wife (who I am in competion with) stole my idea (Sauternes and a salty blue cheese), so I am trying to come up with another goof pairing. .....

Why not use either the same wine or the same cheese that wifey is using, and go from there. Maybe get wild and pair blue cheese with a barley wine. I know... I know... people will tell you it's ale. Or maybe with icewine from Canada. You know... the colonial thing.

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Epoisses and Madiran.

Our own Robert Nesta Marley is a brilliant wine/cheese pairer...

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I don't know if this would fit within the guidelines of your competition, but some of the artisanal ciders coming out of the Northeast U.S. (Hudson Valley Cider is one, and I had a great one from New Hampshire at CraftBar the other night but the name escapes me) make a tremendous match with serious cheddar (something from New England if you want to add a regional element to the pairing, or something from Neal's Yard if you don't).

Sounds like fun!

I like cider very much, but I think that cider would be frowned upon by the wine-police at this shing-ding. Cider with cheddar? Will give this a go. In some parts of Yorkshire they eat fruit cake with Cheddar, so Cheddar, Fruit cake and cider sounds good.

BB - I think my wife will kill be if a choose something similar to her, so no ice-wine. Barley wine again would be disqualified by the wine-police.

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Crottin de chavignol is my favorite. :wub:

Port and blue cheese.

A big cabernet with aged cheddar.

Rioja and manchego.

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What is this "cherve" of which you speak? If you mean "chevre", that's just French for goat's cheese and covers such a wide range of soft to medium-hard, mild to overwhelmingly strong cheeses, that to discuss it generically is meaningless. Oh, I'm stern today. :angry:

I think your premiss is wrong too - failed matches between wines and cheese always strike me as the exception. Maybe the best way to do this is to list the best cheeses you can source, and then we can instruct you what to drink with them. See any Isle of Mull cheddar around your parts, for example?


Edited by Wilfrid (log)

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What is this "cherve" of which you speak?  If you mean "chevre", that's just French for goat's cheese and covers such a wide range of soft to medium-hard, mild to overwhelmingly strong cheeses, that to discuss it generically is meaningless.  Oh, I'm stern today.   :angry:

I think your premiss is wrong too - failed matches between wines and cheese always strike me as the exception.  Maybe the best way to do this is to list the best cheeses you can source, and then we can instruct you what to drink with them.  See any Isle of Mull cheddar around your parts, for example?

I would take the opposite position. I think failed matches between wine and cheese are the norm. First of all most cheese makes dry and/or tannic red wines taste thin and bitter. Nothing like a Brie or a chevre to destroy a nice dry red. Blue cheeses demolish tannic dry red wines. White wines and sweet wines are the easiest to match with cheeses. I think the only really great match with dry reds are the dry, aged cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano - the ultimate in dry red wine cheese matches.

In the cheese and wine matching struggle the cheese always wins and a bad match ruins the taste of the wine - not the cheese.


Edited by Craig Camp (log)

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What is this "cherve" of which you speak?  If you mean "chevre", that's just French for goat's cheese and covers such a wide range of soft to medium-hard, mild to overwhelmingly strong cheeses, that to discuss it generically is meaningless.  Oh, I'm stern today. :angry:

I think your premiss is wrong too - failed matches between wines and cheese always strike me as the exception.  Maybe the best way to do this is to list the best cheeses you can source, and then we can instruct you what to drink with them.  See any Isle of Mull cheddar around your parts, for example?

Actually, "chevre" is French for 'goat', so if one is wearing his pedantic pants today, one might jolly well try to put a both legs in them. You will note that I also posted on a chicken I cooked on the weekend and in doing so failed to mention "free-range, cornfed and giblet free" before the word "chicken", for this I am very sorry.

:raz:

Unless you have an intimate knowledge of both wine and cheese, I fail to see how you will not get a mismatch.

Mature Cheddar with mature Claret - wrong

Munster with Demi-Sec Champagne - wrong

etc etc etc

The few exceptions to red wine and cheese, not liking each other as a rule is a rich Parmesan or some of the hard Spanish sheeps milk cheeses.

Mostly, I think that the cheese kills the wine. So if you are a cheese buff, you may not notice this as much as if you were a wine buff.

Assume I have access to one of the best British cheesemongers, that is good on British/Irish cheese, but a bit slack on French. Italian (except Parmesan) and Spanish don't get a look in.


Edited by Adam Balic (log)

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I would rather eat my shoes than question the sincerity with which, Adam and Craig, you advance the premise about red wine and cheese, but it has also become a rather fashionable thing to say. It doesn't prove anything that millions of people have enjoying red wine with a range of cheese for a couple of centuries, but I submit that one can't simply sweep that aside. And there were a number of experts in that sample, along with all the tourists.

Yes, there are mistakes to be made. Pungent blues, served at room temperature, will challenge most red wines (if you serve the cheese cool, it's a different story; I suspect because some of the chemicals responsible for olfaction are less volatile at refrigeration temperature). But try a Roquefort with a beefy south western red like a Madiran or Cahors. Try a cheddar at its proper age with a Syrah or a gutsy Cabernet (no, not Cheval Blanc 1929 necessarily) . I hope your local cheesemonger, Adam, doesn't keep all his cheddars until they are dry, blue-veined and crumbly.

Okay, here's a specific recommendation. Try some Single Gloucester (not Double) - again, you're looking for a fresh specimen, not dry and certainly without any veins - and try it with a light, affordable Burgundy. I would suggest a Volnay. Does that work for you?

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Always glad to hear I am being fashionable. :wink:

The reality is that the cheese tends to arrive just at the point in the meal when there is red wine to finish. I believe that much of the tradition comes from this and the fact that a lot of people over the centuries that ate cheese and drank wine on a daily basis didn't care about the issue - they just drank the local wine with the local cheese - often they ended up matching well. Now we are drinking wines from all over the world with cheeses from all over the world and some pretty nasty matches can be created.

I admit as a wine geek I can get obsessed about the cheese screwing up my last glass of wine. As I cheese geek I admit I go ahead and eat the cheese and drink the wine anyway. If the match is bad that's what the bread is there for.

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I'm not entirely convinced by your reasoning. In the UK, where cheese was served after dinner, it was traditionally served with a glass of port. Over the last ten or twenty years, there has been a move away from that tradition and towards red wine - a good thing, I would say. In France, I guess wine is usually drunk throughout most meals; cheese follows the entree, indeed, but I should have thought the French - with wine of all kinds readily available - would have rejected the red wine option if they hadn't liked it. I mean, it's not as if French families were forced to drink red wine with the cheese because they didn't have any white knocking around. Customs and opportunities vary from country to country. I'm certainly not going to roll over and concede that such a common and enduring practice as matching cheese and red wine has stood unchallenged just because there's usually a drop of red on the table.

But I'm keen to get down to specific examples. What nasty pairings particularly stick in your mind? I have a feeling we are approaching this from very different perspectives, as I find red wine with Brie, Camembert, Livarot - and so on - perfectly acceptable (as does the population of Normandy), unless the cheese has a pronounced ammoniac character (indicative of over-ripeness).

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For me Brie with red wine is terrible. Try this experiment. Take a good red wine (I don't want you to punish yourself) and enjoy in through the meal. When you have the taste firmly in your mind re-taste the wine one one more time then take a bite of Brie than return to the wine. I believe it will taste thinner and more tannic than before. If the Brie is over-ripe this can be disgusting. Now repeat with Parmigiano and watch the wine change in the other direction. Now repeat the process with a white at the next meal.

The stronger the taste of the cheese the more damage it does to the wine.


Edited by Craig Camp (log)

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Wilfrid and I have had this debate before, so I will chime in again. I don't think that any of the combinations that Wilfrid recommends work, some are worse than others. I agree that port with blue cheese doesn't work either. I am not convinced by the appeal to traditional practices argument. The French are red wine drinkers, about 90% of wine consumed in France is red. The idea of switching to a white wine, which they reserve largely for raw shellfish, goes against their grain. The vast majority of wine drinking in France has traditionally been red vin ordinaire, in other words, rotgut. Nobody focused on the taste of this wine, it is wet, alcaholic and in the background. In the battle for the taste buds between wine and cheese, its the wine that suffers, not the cheese. If the wine is irrelevant, there's no problem, and that is the major historical perspective. As the drinking of better wines has become more common, the problem of wine and cheese, particularly red wine, has become more obvious. This is reality, not fashion. They just don't go together, and in a big way.

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I don't know if this would fit within the guidelines of your competition, but some of the artisanal ciders coming out of the Northeast U.S. (Hudson Valley Cider is one, and I had a great one from New Hampshire at CraftBar the other night but the name escapes me) make a tremendous match with serious cheddar (something from New England if you want to add a regional element to the pairing, or something from Neal's Yard if you don't).

Sounds like fun!

eric bordelet's sparkling ciders are much more intriguing (they're bottled under the chateau de hauteville label). he does pear & apple ciders in normandy. besides, the last time i checked, she stopped making hudson valley cider, unfortunately.

anyway, his ciders pair famously with bleus like old chatham's ewe's blue, that blue made in hubbardstown, MA that i always forget (of course there's only one & everyone will know what it is :raz: ). but others like bleu d'auvergne with lower salinity & a higher butterfat composition will be outstanding with his productions.

one of my all time favorite meals is a lustau oloroso or domecq palo cortado (yes, they are wines & might win you smart points) with a sufficiently ripe, buttery, nutty brebis from the basque. take your pick. membrillo or unsulphured dried fruit if you wish.

that's living.

good luck.

p.s. dry white wine is always better than dry red wine with cheese. i don't care; i'm pulling a plotnicki on this one.

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I'm not entirely convinced by your reasoning.  In the UK, where cheese was served after dinner, it was traditionally served with a glass of port.  Over the last ten or twenty years, there has been a move away from that tradition and towards red wine - a good thing, I would say.  In France, I guess wine is usually drunk throughout most meals; cheese follows the entree, indeed, but I should have thought the French - with wine of all kinds readily available - would have rejected the red wine option if they hadn't liked it.  I mean, it's not as if French families were forced to drink red wine with the cheese because they didn't have any white knocking around.  Customs and opportunities vary from country to country.  I'm certainly not going to roll over and concede that such a common and enduring practice as matching cheese and red wine has stood unchallenged just because there's usually a drop of red on the table.

But I'm keen to get down to specific examples.  What nasty pairings particularly stick in your mind?  I have a feeling we are approaching this from very different perspectives, as I find red wine with Brie, Camembert, Livarot - and so on - perfectly acceptable (as does the population of Normandy), unless the cheese has a pronounced ammoniac character (indicative of over-ripeness).

wilfrid,

you don't find sweeter bleus tasting metallic with dry reds?

bobbie. :rolleyes:

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I agree that port with blue cheese doesn't work either.

Sorry, stilton and port is not merely a figment of my taste buds, I love it.

I don't think there is an absolute on this issue; it's a question of taste.

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I'm not particularly fond of stilton and port either and am glad to find I'm not the only one :wink:

Faced with a varied selection of cheeses I much prefer a white wine than a red. I enjoy the acidity-against-creaminess battle that happens in my mouth when I drink white wine with cheese. I tried white port once too, which I quite enjoyed - it was sweet but not too sweet and was very aromatic. Tried it as an aperitif but found it far better after dinner with cheese. I can't remember the exact cheeses but I have a feeling I particularly enjoyed it with a decent mature cheddar (although I'm known to enjoy decent mature cheddar with almost anything).

I'm happy to go along with the idea that the whole red wine with cheese situation arose because people happened to be drinking red wine with their main course. You know how people are with tradition - it might just have started that way and then other people carried on doing it without questioning because they thought that that was the way it was supposed to be done. No evidence to support it though :wink:

I might try some of Wilfrid's suggestions to convince myself otherwise. Burgundy does sound like a good option.

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I would rather eat my shoes than question the sincerity with which, Adam and Craig, you advance the premise about red wine and cheese, but it has also become a rather fashionable thing to say.  It doesn't prove anything that millions of people have enjoying red wine with a range of cheese for a couple of centuries, but I submit that one can't simply sweep that aside.  And there were a number of experts in that sample, along with all the tourists.

Amazingly Wilfrid, being 'fashionable' has very little to do with my view of cheese and wine. As I stated in the original post, it is "in my view", and as you have pointed out to Steve in the past, just because millions of people had done somthing for a long time, doesn't mean that this is the correct view for a particular individual.

I find that the acid in many cheeses effects my ability to taste wine. Not fashion, my experience.

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that blue made in hubbardstown, MA that i always forget (of course there's only one & everyone will know what it is  :raz:

Hubbardston Blue and Hubbardston Blue Cow. There's also an excellent blue cheese made in Great Barrington, Berkshire Blue.

And if we're talking about excellent Massachusetts cheeses, I'd definitely throw in Monterey chevre, which is a fantastically smooth, creamy and tangy cheese.

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Adam, you know you are simply apeing the current fashion, and it doesn't become you. :raz:

But I suspect Beachfan is right, and this is going to be an unresolvable one. I can't tell you, Craig, how many times I have drunk red wine with Brie, Camembert and similar cheeses. I agree, the experience does change the taste - both of the cheese and the wine - and in a most agreeable way.

Bobbie-wobbie, yes I agree blues can be a problem for red wine. I think some of the British blues like Shropshire and Cheshire (let alone Blue Vinny) work better with dessert wines or port. But I think you do have a fighting chance with Roquefort and Bleu d'Auvergne; the creaminess and hint of salt..well, let's be honest, I'm not sure why; I'm just relying on pleasant memories.

What about triple cremes and red wine? Don't you all love the contrast?

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