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Wine's compatibility with cheese: study debunked


Gifted Gourmet
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article in Slate

the study does not conclude that red wine and cheese are incompatible. Why did so many media outlets claim otherwise... After sampling the wines sans fromage, the students re-evaluated them while tasting eight different cheeses—Emmental, Gruyère, mozzarella, Teleme, Stilton, Gorgonzola, a New York cheddar, and a Vermont cheddar. The idea, said Heymann, was to mix mild cheeses with assertive ones, soft ones with hard ones. Each wine was paired with each cheese ... Did the fruit, tannins, acidity, and oak become more or less perceptible when the wines were drunk with the cheeses?  All eight wines suffered a noticeable decrease in the intensity of their aromas and flavors on account of the cheeses. However, contrary to what the New Scientist headline suggested, the cheeses did not diminish the ability of the students to distinguish the better wines from the rotgut.

Do you enjoy cheese while you are drinking wine?

Does this article confirm your own feelings?

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I was wondering, and am planning on asking the local guru at my Vintages store, but what would be a good red to enjoy with some stronger cheeses?

I dont have any drinkable Amarone's in the fridge ATM - But some '99 Barbaresco's and a few Barolo's etc...

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I was wondering, and am planning on asking the local guru at my Vintages store, but what would be a good red to enjoy with some stronger cheeses?

I dont have any drinkable Amarone's in the fridge ATM - But some '99 Barbaresco's and a few Barolo's etc...

I generally like off-dry whites for stronger cheeses - Vouvray, Alsatian pinot gris VT/SGN, etc. I just don't find the reds that compelling with strong cheeses.

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I was wondering, and am planning on asking the local guru at my Vintages store, but what would be a good red to enjoy with some stronger cheeses?

I dont have any drinkable Amarone's in the fridge ATM - But some '99 Barbaresco's and a few Barolo's etc...

Depends what you mean by "stronger cheeses". Stronger in flavour? Even strongly flavoured cheeses vary in precisely what makes the cheese flavour strong. Both Gorgonzola and Stinking Bishop are strongly flavoured cheeses, but I certainly wouldn't drink the same wine with the two of them. Which cheeses did you have in mind? Even more specifically, an aged Gorgonzola and a Dolcelatte also would be better with two different wines...

I've always thought the best approach to a cheese plate is along the lines of a tasting menu approach....several small slices of cheese with small (very small if you have more than a couple cheeses) glasses of accompanying wines. Otherwise, have one really great cheese with a glass of wine.

Edited by jennahan (log)
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I was wondering, and am planning on asking the local guru at my Vintages store, but what would be a good red to enjoy with some stronger cheeses?

I dont have any drinkable Amarone's in the fridge ATM - But some '99 Barbaresco's and a few Barolo's etc...

I generally like off-dry whites for stronger cheeses - Vouvray, Alsatian pinot gris VT/SGN, etc. I just don't find the reds that compelling with strong cheeses.

Agree with Dave. And I'll go a bit further. Generally, I prefer sweet white wines at any level of sweetness with strongly flavored cheeses. Although, I do enjoy Amarone with gorgonzola.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Isn't the title of this thread a little misleading? About the study in question, the author just claims that the press totally got the story wrong, at least according to the Slate article. She says that while the media reported the study suggested that wine and cheese don't pair well, the (still unreleased) study does not conclude that.

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article in Slate
the study does not conclude that red wine and cheese are incompatible. Why did so many media outlets claim otherwise... After sampling the wines sans fromage, the students re-evaluated them while tasting eight different cheeses—Emmental, Gruyère, mozzarella, Teleme, Stilton, Gorgonzola, a New York cheddar, and a Vermont cheddar. The idea, said Heymann, was to mix mild cheeses with assertive ones, soft ones with hard ones. Each wine was paired with each cheese ... Did the fruit, tannins, acidity, and oak become more or less perceptible when the wines were drunk with the cheeses?  All eight wines suffered a noticeable decrease in the intensity of their aromas and flavors on account of the cheeses. However, contrary to what the New Scientist headline suggested, the cheeses did not diminish the ability of the students to distinguish the better wines from the rotgut.

Do you enjoy cheese while you are drinking wine?

Does this article confirm your own feelings?

so a conclusion of the study as stated by the Slate author is: "all eight wines suffered a noticeable decrease in the intensity of their aromas and flavors on account of the cheeses....."

yet this brilliant journalist concludes: "the study does not conclude that red wine and cheese are incompatible,"

I can't wait for the article proudly announcing: "Slate Journalist misreads the press' misreading of a study that concludes....."

Here's my take on the red wine and cheese issue (I posted this on the thread referenced by Brad).

The high fat content in cheese can "dull" the palate to the nuances of many fine red wines.

This belief is the result of eating a lot of cheeses with a lot of red wines. (I came to this conclusion on my own based upon my own experience--everyone should form their own opinions). This opinion--by the way--is held by many people who are more experienced and authoritative than I am. There are also a number of equally respected folks who disagree.

(you really have to form your own opinion here). The science seemingly supports the first group--but so what?

(I am certainly not going to try to convince someone like Daniel Rogov that he is wrong to tout red wines with cheese).

Red wines that are not so nuanced and that may be less than optimally balanced do a better job with fatty cheeses. Amarones (high alcohol) or sweet reds--ports etc (high sugar) can work with cheese. Also simpler more 'rustic" reds are ok as well--IMOP.

A fine red Burgundy IMOP (say a great Musigny--will be "lessened" when drunk with a strong cheese--the cheese wins every time!

Most people will agree that white wines and sweet wines work much better with a wider range of cheeses (I especially love fresh goat cheeses with chenin blancs and Sancerre's from the Loire).

Also--why must one force the issue--dry red and white wine does not work best with every food--we often overlook great beers and ales for example and fortified wines like--sherries etc etc etc..

As for the press--obviously they are clueless (stumbling over each other in pursuit of a story that really is not much to begin with).

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Cheese is good. Wine is good. One would then conclude that if you pair the two, the results will not be horrible. In fact, many of us likely have fond memories surrounding eating cheese while drinking wine. That, in itself, is not enough to say the two are made for each other. I, for one, subscribe to that camp. While there are certainly examples of great pairings, many involve specific, fringe wines. Sure port and stilton, but how much port do you really drink?

I'm a huge fan of fresh goat cheese with Sancerre or champagne. However, fresh goat cheese is totally unlike most cheeses. It is super clean on the palate and doesn't have a pronounced, lingering finish. It's a tasty bite, and then it's gone. Not unlike the wines that work well with it. Once again, the fact that these two manage to work is not enough for me to say, "Wine and cheese are great together."

When I think about it, the vast majority of the time that I've had wine and cheese at once have been at things like art openings or other such events. In that case, you've got rather non-descript wines and rather non-descript cheese. The focus is on whatever else you're there for plus catching a free buzz and soaking it up with some free vittles. Once again, hardly a stirring testimony for pairing the two.

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