Wine and cheese pairing…is it art?Â Perhaps, but it’s not that hard to create.Â You are basically seeking a balance of salt and sweet.Â Some are intuitive, some more cerebral, but all should bring great tastebud joy that you will want to replicate time and time again.Â We start with artisanal cheeses Ã€ Point (at peak), or aged to perfection, rotating our inventory based on season and availability.Â We taste a lot, and when a combo makes our heart sing, we write it down!
In cheese-plating, as in art, there are no rules, but there are guidelines, such as begin with the mildest and progress to the most pungent.Â Ideally, a contrast of milks, countries and textures;Â condiments, fruit and crackers are totally optional.Â My standard cheese plate usually begins with a Goat and features Comte in the third or fourth position.Â Beyond that, anything goes.
Here, we share some of our available cheeses and favorite pairings, just as we do with all of the wines in our store.Â Consider a cheese course for your next dinner party–we would love to help you create a Masterpiece.
The Coupole is a fresh, soft, young goat’s milk cheese that is shaped like a small dome and lightly dusted with vegetable ash. It hails from the ambitious new Loire-Valley-style production facility at Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery, where they have been pioneering innovative dairy products for more than 25 years. As the Coupole ages, a slightly wrinkled skin develops, and the paste softens. Approximately 8 oz.
Saumur Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Unoaked Chardonnay, Maybe Viognier
Hoja Santa was created by legendary cheese maker Paula Lambert, owner of the Mozzarella Company in Dallas, Texas. Paula thoughtfully created a cheese that reflects its origins, as each of these young goat’s milk rounds is wrapped in a velvety, heart-shaped leaf from the local (and eponymous) Hoja Santa plant. The leaf imparts subtle notes of sassafras, anise, mint, and black pepper to this soft, fresh chÃ¨vre.
The Hoja Santas are dried and flipped, then left until a few spots of perfectly edible mold grow on the rind. These are aged for much longer than most fresh goat cheeses. This guarantees that the leaf has lost its chewiness and has infused the white paste with a light grassy note. Approximately 5 oz.
Sancerre, Beer, Pernod!
A washed-rind cow’s milk cheese from the Burgundy region of France; it is very similar to Epoisses, which is made is actually made by the same creamery. Its name, Affidelice, comes from the marriage of two words: affinÃ© (ripe) and delice (delight). Affidelice is soft, with a moist, terracotta-colored rind, and is contained in a small, wooden box.
The maturation process is continued at Artisanal Premium Cheese Center in New York, where they wash the Affidelice with Chablis. The resulting cheese has a soft, pungent, spoonable paste with a satiny texture.
Chardonnay, especially Chablis;Â Champagne, Riesling
HUDSON VALLEY CAMEMBERT:
The award-winning Old Chatham Shepherding Company’s Hudson Valley Camembert is a creamy, soft-ripened cheese made from the milk of Old Chatham’s herd of East Fresian sheep combined with hormone-free cow’s milk from a neighbor’s farm.
The result is meltingly smooth and buttery, with the texture of a triple-crÃ¨me, it has layers of flavor and nuance. Approximately 5.33 oz.
Champagne, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling
FLEUR DE MAQUIS:
(fluhr doo mah-KEE)
Fleur du Maquis is semi-soft, made in Corsica from the milk of the Lacaune ewes.
Its name means “Flower of the Maquis”–maquis being the local term for the typical thickets of rough underbrush where highway robbers and guerrilla fighters used to hang out.Â During production, the smallish wheels are encrusted with rosemary, fennel seeds, juniper berries, and the occasional bird’s eye chile.
Pinot Gris, Beaujolais, Zinfandel
Manchego is a famous Spanish D.O. sheep’s milk cheese, made exclusively from the milk of sheep grazing upon the plains of La Mancha–the land of Don Quixote! This artisanal Manchego is made from raw milk and aged for several months. The cheese is nutty, sweet, and tangy with a firm texture. After 12 months, the semi-firm cheese becomes tastier, saltier and excellent for grating.
Quince Preserves + Albarino, Grenache
Taleggio is a semi-soft, washed-rind cheese from the Valtaleggio region in northern Italy, near Lombardy. It is characteristically aromatic, yet mild in flavor, and features tangy, meaty notes with a fruity finish. The texture of the cheese is moist-to-oozy with a very pleasant melt-in-your-mouth feel. The combination of the soft texture, pungent aroma, and buttery flavors has proven to be addictive especially when spread on fresh crusty bread.
Warm Baguette + Chardonnay, Nebbiolo Bianco, Nebbiolo
Terraluna is produced in Utah from clean raw Jersey cow milk. This firm cheese is in the cheddar family, yet it has an even deeper flavor and a longer finish than most cheddars. The award-winning Terraluna owes its superior quality to the mineral-rich soil where the cows graze, as well as to the fine cheese making skills of its producers.
Pinot Noir, IPA
PECORINO BALZE VOLTERANNE:
(Peh-co-REE-no DELL-eh BAHLT-zeh VOL-tehr-RAH-neh)
A raw organic pecorino from Tuscany and is made with vegetable rennet of wild artichoke. The cheese is aged in oak barrels for 60 days, the rind covered in oak and olive wood ash. This imparts a unique green olive flavor and a long finish. This cheese is firm, toothsome and has a nutty texture.
Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese
ComtÃ© is a firm pressed cheese made from the raw milk of red and white Montbeliard cows in the Jura Mountains of France in Franche-ComtÃ©. The cheese is produced in small, cooperative dairies, known as “fruitiÃ¨resâ€ which collect the milk from farms within a maximum of 15 miles radius and only produce cheese in the summer months..
ComtÃ© is the most popular DOP cheeses in France, and it is claimed that there are more than 83 distinct flavors in ComtÃ©, including mountain flowers, apricot, chocolate, butter, cream, butterscotch and grilled bread. It comes in a 1/3 pound block and is tempting to snack on like a savory candy bar!
Savoie, White Burgundy, Riesling, GewÃ¼rztraminer, Bordeaux Blends
Italy’s answer to Roquefort, from the region north of Milan. Its rough, reddish rind protects a tender, light yellow, blue-flecked paste that is firm, moist, and buttery. The flavor is sharp and sweet.
Sauternes, Vin Santo
SPAIN/Cow & Sheep
A gently blued pasteurized cow and sheep milk cheese from Asturias in northern Spain. Also known as Queso Azul Asturiano, La Peral has been made by the Lopez Leon family since the 1920s. The wheels are aged for sixty days just to the point that the blue begins to develop. La Peral resembles an Italian Gorgonzola. It has a slightly crumbly texture that leads to a refreshing finish on the palate. The sheep milk component gives this firm cheese a little olive oil flavor and a pleasant pungent aroma. Rich, moist, buttery, sharp, saltyâ€¦
Atop a Medium-rare burger + Rioja & Other Spanish Reds, Cabernet Sauvignon, Port, Amontillado