It’s like we knew it was almost the start of the weekend or something… Yes, it’s Friday and our minds are on all of the fun that we will be having when 5pm hits! For us, a weekend really isn’t a weekend well spent without a little bit (or a tonne) of cheese.
Last time we hit up the Cheese Queen of Adelaide, Kris Lloyd – Manager and Head Cheesemaker at Woodside Cheese Wrights, she gave us the lowdown on cheese and Champagne/bubbles. Well this time it is all about cheese being paired with other forms of alcohol. Think beer, cider, gin etc. Oh and maybe a little bit of wine. Have we got your attention? Good, read on…
Kris is constantly asked the same question, “What wine will go best with this cheese?” Wine will always pair perfectly with cheese, it is just a fact of life. But in this guide Kris explores wine amongst other alcohol to drink with your next cheese feast. She says, “We have so many choices of great ‘drink’ that are incredibly interesting when partnered up with cheese.”
We cannot wait to be enlightened!
Given that we all have different taste thresholds, particularly for bitterness, saltiness and sweetness, this guide is matter of personal preference. The answer to the perfect match rests with you (and those tastebuds of yours).
To complicate things further, Kris likes to dabble in things that are different, it is just in her nature. This leads her down the path of matching beer, cider, gin, Champagne (see our previous guide here) and single malt whiskey with cheese! Some interesting combinations to ponder.
What Kris finds exciting about the gassy beverages, Champagne, beer and cider in particular, is the clean and fresh finish they leave on the palate which invariably begs for more. Flirting with danger there! This cleansing affect works especially well when the cheese is dense in structure and needs a vehicle to drive the flavour through your mouth.
Remember when embarking on this crusade of matching, that the cheeses and “drink” are served at the correct temperatures. Kris urges everyone to ensure that cheese be at room temperature before enjoying. We know the wait can be painful but you should get into the habit of removing the cheese from the fridge before you want to devour the whole wheel (see more tips in our other story here). Removing the cheese from the fridge will mean you get the full and desired flavour, white wine should also not be served directly from the fridge but should be given a short rest at room temperature first. And give your red wines a little breathing time for some of the hidden characters to present. Ciders and beers should be cool but not freezing so you can get the full bouquet of aromas, malty and yeasty.
This crusade should also be approached with patience and all of your sense turned on. We always see wine aficionados swirling and sniffing those massive goblets of wine – cheese is no different. Allow the cheeses breathing time to appreciate its best flavours. Once the cheese is in your mouth give it a moment, then breathe in through your mouth to allow the nasal passages at the back of the throat to engage and give you a real sense of the cheese flavour. Now that’s done like a true aficionado!
Matching similar tastes or looking for a contrast is generally the way cheese and ‘drink’ matching is approached. For instance, a goat curd with light bodied aromatic white, such as Gewurztraminer or Fiano. It is all about the contrast in which the acid from the curd presents a gentle disparity to the smooth sweetness of the white.
Sticking with contrasts, a salty pungent blue works exceptionally well with a sweet dessert wine such as Botrytis or what may be affectionately referred to as a sticky. A good match will highlight the sweetness of the milk. This contrast in particular is extreme. Bursting in your mouth, nothing meek and mild about it and the lingering taste on the palate is sensational.
If we look at matching, rather than contrasting, then a must try is a creamy ripe or aged Charleston Jersey Brie or other rich Camembert or Brie with Chardonnay. This highlights the buttery character of both the cheese and wine and it really works well. The problem is how to stop!! Well you just don’t!
Woodside Figaro a goat milk washed rind is robust in flavour, this is a successful to match up with some of the Italian varietals such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and some Pinots. There is a savoury smokiness in both that melds and works. With washed rinds the age of the cheese will determine the wine match. If the cheese is fully developed try a Pinot, sparkling red, gin and even beer will work well. It is a great cheese variety to experiment with. If you can get hold of gin with a herbaceous nose it is worth a try. Give Prohibition Gin or Applewood Gin, both SA locals, a go!
Want a pleasant surprise? Rather than pairing your full bodied reds with big tannins and oak with hard cheese such as aged cheddar or Parmigiano Reggiano, try it with a dry artisan cider. A fave is LOBO Apple Cider, another Adelaide local from, you guessed it, Lobethal!
On another note, Kris suggests that you choose your accompaniments carefully. Keep them simple. “Seasonal fruit is my favourite.”
With whites being more versatile than reds, delicate cheeses being best with delicate wines etc., there are always going to be some rules to follow. But when you break the rules and try something a little different you might just discover something amazing!
Happy cheese-ing and drinking!