Saturday, April 3, 2010

I'll take some cheese with this wine

Wine pairing with antipasti parties and such gatherings is essential. So look at your menu and plan accordingly. A common accompaniment for wine are cheeses, but you have to match them up just right. Some wines are fruity or nutty, dry or fresh; cheeses can be bold or subtle, tangy or elegant. There's a lot to think about, but that doesn't mean pairing has to be stressful. These are just suggestions for basic cheeses:

50% reduced fat cheddar: half the fat, all the flavor in mild, easy melting cheddar. 
     white wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. (Tangym sippy flavors and aromas of grapefruit and honeydew melon.)
     red wine pairing: Dry Rose. (Semi dry pink wine with soft aromas of violets and subtle flavors of cherry and spice.)
     appetizer: put this wonderful cheese on a platter with summer sausage, crusty bread, fresh fruit and vegetables. Add a side of ranch or french onion for dipping and enjoy. 

Mild cheddar: subtle, refreshing flavor. 
     white wine pairing: Late Harvest Reisling. (Off dry medium bodied white wine with aromas of honeysuckle, apricot and flavors of soft peach and spice.)
     red wine pairing: Sangiovese. (Medium-bodied, dry red wine with soft flavors and aromas of vanilla and fresh cherries.)
      appetizer: shred a bar of mild cheddar and drape over a plate of crisp corn chips, top with sour cream, guacamole and black olives. 

Sharp cheddar: rich, rustic flavor.
     white wine pairing: White Bordeaux. (Crisp, smooth, medium bodied white blend of Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc with hints of melon and citrus.)
     red wine pairing: Zinfandel. (Bold, dry red with rich aromas and flavors of blackberries, vanilla, black pepper.)
     appetizer: A potato gratin is the perfect side dish for a turkey or ham. In a buttered casserole, arrange layers of peeled and sliced Yukon Gold potatoes, shredded sharp cheddar and creme fraiche (about 1 1/2 cups each of cheddar and creme fraiche for 3 pounds of potatoes.) Season with fresh chives, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, then 350 degrees Fahrenheit until potatoes are tender in the center. 

Extra Sharp Cheddar: elegant, rich, lush. 
     white wine pairing: White Rhone. (Silky, medium bodied blend of Marsanne/Rousanne/Viognier with spicy yet floral nose and rich lingering flavors of peach, nutmeg and tropical fruit. 
     red wine pairing: Red Rhone. (Dry, full flavored red blend of Syrah/Grenache features cassis, mulberry, spice.)
     appetizer: Fruit and cheese make an elegantly simple way to end a meal. Serve extra sharp cheese with seasonal fruits like red grapes and Seckel pears. Or top slices of buttery pound cake with oven-roasted pears and a spoonful of creme fraiche whipped with a little honey.

Seriously Sharp Cheddar: bold, pungent and memorable. 
     white wine pairing: Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine/Champagne (Rich, creamy, yeasty, full flavored Brut styles.) 
     red wine pairing: Petite Syrah. (Rich, dry, full-bodied red with hints of raspberry, blackberry, chocolate, toasted oak.)
     appetizer: Hearty roast beef sandwiches with thick slices of seriously sharp cheese. Top with horseradish sauce and serve on rye bread. 

Pepper Jack: spicy, tangy, fun.
     white wine pairing: Gewurztraminer. (Semi dry, fruity, light white with floral nose and touch of sweetness.)
     red wine pairing: Beaujolais. (Light bodied, fresh, fruity, tart red wine.)
     appetizer: Quesadillas. Shred pepper jack cheese and sprinkle on top of flour tortilla. Sprinkle layer of cooked shredded chicken or crab over cheese. Top with tortilla. Grill or pan cook until golden on both sides. Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro. 

These are just basic cheeses that most people have around the house, but there are hundreds of cheeses to choose from. For a quick reference, check out these sites: 
Wine and Cheese Pairing Guide 
Wisconsin-Pairing Guide
Oregon-Pairing Guide

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