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Over the ages, people have acquired the skill to conserve nature’s periodically occurring generosities for the times when nature is not so liberal. The plentiful milk that a cow gives in season converts to cheese for the winter months. Fresh grapes, with limited expiry, become wine for later entertainment. In the warm weathers that sustain both vines and dairy giving animals, it is not unexpected that wine and cheese are relished together. Both of these items have been the everyday sustenance of farmers in France, Greece and Italy since a long time. Wine and cheese are considered not just a delicacy but a complete meal in these regions.
Cheese and wine are considered a portion of food for special occasions in America while European cultures provide much more variety. Here is a list of cheese-wine combinations that could serve as savoury delight for special moments:
Boerenkaas comes in golden colour with a dense, creamy character. It acquires caramel tones when aged under a year. The colour darkens, progressing to butterscotch as the cheese matures. The structure becomes stronger and the flavours richer, with both saltiness and sweetness enhanced. An aged Boerenkaas smells like whiskey. Supplement the alluring fragrances of Boerenkaas with a dry amontillado sherry. Port wine can also handle its intensity.
Garrotxa is a mildly aged goat cheese with a luscious nutty flavour that typically matures in six to eight weeks. It pairs well with wines that are neither too ascetic nor too gentle. Verdejo and Chardonnay will serve if they have some character to supplement the buttery sweetness of the cheese. Dry Amontillado Sherry will enhance Garroxta’s nuttiness.
Cashel Blue is sharp and acidic when blooming. As it matures it becomes more creamy and complicated with a subdued character. The cheese’s creaminess will clash nicely with sparkling wine, while an amontillado sherry will complement its pleasant personality. A port wine, such as Sauternes, will also go well with it.
Cheddar (not the bland one you get at the supermarket - Real Cheddar) has a sturdy, crunchy and smooth texture at the same time. The aroma and acidity are well vocalised, with a morsel leaving balanced flavours lingering on your taste buds long after dissolving. Red wines that are intense will go well with cheddar. Bordeaux can easily compliment the copiousness of the cheese.
Evenly distributed veins in a moist, ivory paste is a profound characteristic of a well-made Roquefort. The cheese should not be granular but smooth and composed of balanced flavours. Roquefort is always strong and flavorful. A rich dessert wine, such as Sauternes or Banyuls go nicely with Roquefort’s spice and salt.
The freshly formed wheels are cured and brined for a brief period of time (around 4 weeks). Over time, the cheese turns pinkish orange and gives off flavourful aromas. The cheese is marketed when the rind and interior are still pliant and moist. A wine of pronounced character, like a Syrah or a Gewürztraminer, is required to match the intensity of Durrus.
A finished Taleggio will have a significant amount of grey mould on the rind. It has a bulge on the sides as it yields to pressure from the soft interiors. The cheese has enunciated smells of earth and mushroom as well as smooth and salty flavours. Taleggio will pair well with full-bodied red wines of Piedmont (think of the impressive Barolo and Dolcetto). Spicy white wines are also a transcendent match for this incredible cheese. Pair with a dry Pinot Gris for a handsome combination.
Given the choice of special flavours and aromas associated with different combinations, you may not find it hard the get the right components for wine and cheese basket for your special ones.