Photos by Hillary Ehlen
When it comes to cheese and wine pairing, there is so much going on these days that choosing the right combinations can get downright intimidating. There are not only entire books written on the subject, but Googling it will get you so turned around that you might just decide to break out the can of Easy Cheese and a box of Ritz crackers. So where do you start? As someone who has been studying up on these things for a good chunk of my life now, I have found that when all is said and done, most often the best pairings are the simple, classic ones that never go out of style.
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In this article, I tweaked the pairings just a bit in order to make them a little more affordable, attainable and as unintimidating as possible. So here are a few classic(ish) options to start you on your way.
1. Terre di Marca Prosecco & Sarvecchio Parmesan
The classic version of this pairing is Champagne and parmesan, but who’s keeping track? This organic Prosecco is a nice sparkling option because the quality is high but it won’t break the bank the way a bottle of French Champagne might. Sparkling wine and parmesan cheese are really beautiful together. The bubbles of the wine cut through the saltiness of the cheese, creating a match made in heaven. P.S. If you want to spend the extra bucks on that bottle of French wine, go for it, we won’t judge.
2. Roth Grand Cru Surchoix Gruyere & Talbott Kali Hard Chardonnay
Classically, this Alpine-style cheese comes from Switzerland, but this version comes straight from our Midwestern friend Wisconsin. This world-renowned cheese is something special and has won many an award to prove it. The Chardonnay is a classic California style with just the right amount of butter and fruit notes to compliment the nutty and sweetness of the cheese.
3. Roomano Pradera 4 Year Aged Gouda & Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon
Back when people started to get really fancy with their cheese and wine pairing, a nice aged Gouda would be classically paired with a French Bordeaux. This French wine–traditionally a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot grapes–is amazing, expensive and not the easiest to get your hands on. The rich, full-bodied Cabernet, on the other hand, can be found at any of your local wine shops for a fraction of the price. This aged cheese from the Netherlands, with its slight crunch and nuttiness, perfectly complements the richness of the wine. Try taking a little bite of the cheese, then take a taste of the wine and mingle the two together in your mouth. You will thank me later.
4. St. Pete’s Blue Cheese & Dow 10 Year Tawny Port
When I think of this most classic of cheese and wine pairings, it’s only right to reference my friend and cheese mentor Peter Kelly, who played an integral part in the transformation of the Luna cheese case. He also insisted that we carry a nice selection of Ports for this pairing specifically. You can think you don’t like blue cheese, and you can think you don’t like Port, but this pairing is otherworldly. The saltiness of the cheese paired with the sweetness of the Port results in what is considered one of the great food and wine pairings of the world. Traditionally, the pairing calls for Stilton and Vintage Port but for a beginner, this classic English cheese is pretty hardcore. The St. Pete’s Blue is a milder version and is made in Faribault, Minnesota, which makes it extra cool.
So there you have it, folks, a few classic pairings to set you on the right path without scaring the crap out of you. Confession: I was at a party recently where they served Easy Cheese in the can…and it was amazing!