Tis the Season: Top 5 Easy & Elegant Wine & Gourmet Cheese Pairings
If you are hosting a holiday party this season, we know you want to impress and delight with an exquisite array of fine food and festive libations. Serving wine & cheese is a no brainer but serving them perfectly paired can be a challenge. Have no fear my foodie friends. Just take a look at our top 5 seasonal wine and cheese pairings for a simple yet sumptuous soiree!
Champagne and Bloomy Cheese
Pop the cork and pour the bubbly when serving bloomy cheeses such as Brie, Pierre Robert, Brillat Savarin and Camembert. The carbonation and yeasty qualities of Champagne cleanse the palate of the rich taste and texture of these creamy cheeses.
Rioja and Drunken Goat Cheese
Always the hit of the party, Murcia al Vino (aka Drunken Goat) is a Spanish goat cheese marinated in red wine. Its purple rind contrasts beautifully with the snowy white paste. Guests always gravitate to Drunken Goat and are eager to give it a try. Pair it with a spicy and juicy red Rioja and yours will be a party to remember.
Sauvignon Blanc and Aged Goat Cheese
Aged goat cheese can be tangy, sweet and earthy - in a word, complex. Certainly one of the most versatile wines that marry well with a variety of gourmet cheese, Sauvignon Blanc has the body and depth to handle aged goat cheese and the layers of flavors.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Robust Cheese
It’s cold outside and nothing is more warming than a glass of hearty red wine. Be sure to match the intensity with a cheese that’s aged for bold flavor such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Piave and mature Gouda.
Port and Blue Cheese
It’s time to dust off those tiny little cordial glasses and put them to good use. With flavors of honeyed dried fruit and a nutty finish, Tawny Port is smooth and sweet. It tames the power of blue cheese such as Gorgonzola, Stilton and Roquefort for the perfect study in contrasts. Try it for dessert!
Give with Good Taste: Top Unique Gourmet Cheese Gifts
Let’s face it. Finding the right holiday gift for the gourmet food lover in your life can be a challenge. You want to surprise and delight them with your good taste but not sure how to please? Perfect as a hostess gift, a corporate gift for co-workers or clients, or as a unique holiday gift for friends and family, distinctive cheese baskets can offer a culinary adventure they can savor with loved ones. Take a look at The Cheese Ambassador’s top picks for the season and hope you are invited to share!
DO YOU FONDUE?
Who wouldn’t love this ooey gooey cold-weather indulgence? From the French word fondre meaning to melt, fondue is a communal tradition hailing from the Swiss and French Jura mountains. Going back centuries, fondue was considered a peasant dish since it was a means to utilize old bread and cheese. Now, only the finest gourmet cheese such as Gruyere, Emmental and Comte along with wine and spices are blended to savory perfection. Long forks are used to spear and dip bread, meat, potatoes, fruit and more. Fondue cheese gift baskets can include the perfect combination of melting cheeses, recipes and even fondue pot sets.
Spanish style small plate dining is more popular than ever and simple to recreate at home with a gourmet cheese gift basket. Spanish folklore suggests tapas originated in taverns as a way to keep flies out of Sherry glasses. Bartenders would cover the sherry glass with a piece of bread or ham. Soon it was custom for little snacks to be served with wine, beer and Sherry. A tapas gift basket could include gourmet cheese such as Manchego and Mahon, jamon Serrano (cured ham), membrillo (quince jam), Marcona almonds and olives. Tapas at home is perfect for cocktail parties or a casual evening with friends.
CHEESE FOR WINE COLLECTIONS
Wine and cheese is a match made in foodie heaven but selecting the right pairing can be daunting. Whether they prefer a bottle or red or white, these gourmet cheese baskets take the guesswork out of the equation. Perfect for cold winter nights, The Cabernet Sauvignon collection features bold and robust cheeses such as Aged Mimolette, San Joaquin Gold and Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue to reflect the intensity of the hearty, belly-warming red wine. A unique gift to ring in the New Year, the Champagne cheese basket offers fresh goat cheese, Irish cheddar, Camembert and Pierre Robert. Cheers!
A Hoppy Marriage: Gourmet Cheese & Beer Pairing Guide
When it comes to cheese and beverage pairings, wine and cheese is a no brainer. But did you know beer just may be the better beverage choice to enjoy with gourmet cheese? Beer’s bitter qualities and carbonation cleanses the palate of the rich, mouth-coating texture of cheese.
With the wide variety of domestic, imported, and craft beers now available, selecting the right one can be just as overwhelming as choosing an appropriate wine. Fortunately, we have teamed up with Peter Estaniel, founder of Better Beer Blog, to be our guide. Take a look at our Gourmet Cheese and Beer Pairing Guide for Peter’s recommendations for your next gourmet cheese and BEER tasting.
Cheese Type: Fresh These cheeses are not aged and usually are white and light in flavor, smooth and sometimes tangy. Try chevre (goat cheese), buffalo mozzarella or feta.
Peter’s Picks: The light citrus character of White Beers (Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, Wittekerke) and Wheat Beers (Erdinger Weissbier, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier) marries well with the lactic tang of fresh cheeses.
Cheese Type: Bloomy Encased in a whitish, edible rind, bloomy cheeses are often velvety, gooey with a mild flavor. Add brie, camembert or Pierre-Robert to the cheese board for a decadent treat.
Peter’s Picks: Pilsner, with its balanced flavor and mildly bitter finish, washes the palate of creamy, bloomy cheeses. Try Trumer Pils, Spaten Pils.
Cheese Type: Washed Rind AKA “Stinky Cheeses”. During the aging process, washed-rind cheeses are usually bathed in a brine or washed with liquor such as wine, beer or a spirits. It’s this brining process that gives the cheese an aromatic quality. Almost all have orange or reddish hued rinds. Not mild and not sharp, washed rind cheeses are full-flavored. Give taleggio or epoisses a taste.
Peter’s Picks: India Pale Ale (Blind Pig IPA, Stone IPA) and Belgian-style Dark Strong ales (Chimay Grande Reserve, Gouden Carolus Grand Cru of the Emperor) have enough gusto to stand up to the power of these cheeses.
Cheese Type: Aged, Hard Cheeses As cheeses matures, it hardens and concentrates in flavor. Try aged cheddar, aged gouda and piave.
Peter’s Picks: A pint of English ale (Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Newcastle Brown Ale) is the traditional beverage of choice for cheddar. The nutty and caramelized flavors of aged gouda and piave match well with brown ales, as well.
Cheese Type: Blue The bluish-green veins give blue cheese its punch. Listed from strong to strongest in pungency are our gorgonzola dolce, nutty stilton and salty roquefort.
Peter’s Picks: Intense cheeses like blues can be tamed with sweet, fruity beers. For a unique treat, try a raspberry flavored beer like Belgian Lambic (Lindemans Framboise) with blue cheese for dessert.
Gourmet Cheese: What’s an American Original?
Created in small batches and crafted carefully by hand, American artisanal cheese employs traditional methods and milk from local farms enabling the cheese maker to capture the subtle nuances particular to the region. In honor of Thanksgiving we are celebrating the ingenuity of the American artisanal cheese maker and the pioneers that go beyond European tradition. In the spirit of culinary adventure, these cheese makers have produced uncommonly delicious gourmet cheeses by tapping into the American sensibility of striking out on their own, carving their own path and differentiating themselves from the classics. Below are just a few of our favorites you’ll find at The Cheese Ambassador.
Cocoa Cardona by Carr Valley Cheese, Central Wisconsin
What do you get when you combine chocolate with cheese? Goat cheese is aged for 8 months and then rubbed with cocoa to form a brown rind. The nutty and slightly sweet flavors of the goat cheese contrast beautifully with the hint of chocolate. This unique and surprisingly tasty combination is crafted by Sid Cook, a master cheese maker who has won more national and international awards than any other cheese maker in North America.
Classic Blue Log by Westfield Farms, Central Massachusetts
The tangy kick of goat cheese meets the punch of blue cheese in this delectable one-of-a-kind chevre. This handmade, farmstead, aged goat cheese features a Roquefort rind and is one of the few goat cheeses with external blue molds in the world. Despite the name, it’s decidedly un-classic. Bob and Debby Stetson have been making distinctive goat cheeses for more than 25 years. The American Cheese Society has honored Westfield Farms and the Classic Blue Log year after year at their annual cheese competition.
Purple Haze by Cypress Grove, Northern California
Cheese maker and former alpine goat breeder Mary Keehn is making this difficult to chose just one Cypress Grove gourmet cheese to showcase but Purple Haze is no doubt the most original. This fresh goat cheese is studded with lavender buds and fennel pollen. These aromatic additions lend a sweetness to the lactic tang. An excellent dessert cheese, Purple Haze is divine with a drizzle of honey.
Montasio Festivo by Mozzarella Company, Northern Texas
While this is yet another goat cheese, I guarantee you haven’t had one like this before. Cheese maker Paula Lambert has revolutionized cheese in the United States by incorporating Mexican ingredients. Montasio Festivo is a hand-crafted goat cheese that has been aged for up to a year. Rubbed with ancho chile pepper and olive oil to form a rust red rind, it’s nutty and complex with a zippy bite.
Give Thanks with Award Winning American Gourmet Cheese
Sure, you have heard of the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Grammys but did you know there are cheese competitions that honor gourmet cheese produced here in the United States and around the world? Cheese experts convene to blindly judge cheese by its appearance, aroma, taste, finish and a host of other technical merits (sounds like a dream job to me). The annual American Cheese Society competition is open only to American artisanal cheese while the World Cheese Awards pays tribute to cheese from any country. While once considered secondary to European cheese, American artisanal cheese is now more prolific and has garnered prestigious awards on the international stage.
In honor of Thanksgiving, we are celebrating the bounty of the American farm and the ingenuity of the American cheese maker. Created in small batches and crafted carefully by hand, American artisanal cheese employs traditional methods and milk from local farms enabling the cheese maker to capture the subtle nuances particular to the region. Listed below are American artisanal cheeses that have been recognized not only as some of the best in the country but among the best in the world.
Best in Show:
Pleasant Ridge Reserve by Uplands Cheese Company
For the third time, this farmstead cheese was named Best in Show at the American Cheese Society competition beating out 1,400 other fine cheeses. It is hand made only in the summertime with raw milk from a single herd of pasture-fed cows in Southern Wisconsin. Like a French Alpine style hard cheese that may remind you of Gruyere, Pleasant Ridge Reserve has a delicate and nutty flavor profile.
The Americans Beat the British:
Bandage Wrapped Cheddar by Fiscalini Farms
Not only has Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped Cheddar won numerous awards but for the first time, an American cheddar beat the British and on their own turf at the World Cheese Awards in London. This farmstead gourmet cheese is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk in Northern California and aged for 18 months to allow for a complex and bold flavor.
Smokey Blue & Crater Lake Blue by Rogue Creamery
Oregon-based Rogue Creamery dominates cheese competitions on both the domestic and international front year after year. That means these unique one-of-a-kind blue cheeses are besting traditional Gorgonzola, Stilton and Roquefort. Rogue Creamery blue cheeses are made with raw cow’s milk from local dairy farms. Smokey Blue is a Roquefort-style blue cheese that is smoked over hazelnut shells for creamy, meaty and pungent flavors. Crater Lake Blue is the perfect balance of robust, sweet and buttery richness.
Gourmet Cheese & Beer? Our Salute to Oktoberfest
Munich’s Oktoberfest is the world’s largest fair with close to 6 million people attending over a 16 day period. When you think of Oktoberfest, naturally, you think of beer. And you should since Oktoberfest doesn’t officially commence until the Mayor taps the first keg and declares “O'zapft is” – “it’s tapped”. While Oktoberfest ended this week in Munich, we are celebrating the German cultural festival all month long by enjoying our gourmet cheese with a stein of beer (Lederhosen optional).
Can I really drink beer with cheese? It may surprise you but beer may just be the superior beverage pairing with the dairy delight. Beer, like wine, has something in common with cheese. All of these products are pastoral and crafted using traditional methods that date back centuries. Wine, beer and cheese speak of a particular culture, a place and a time. The connection between beer and cheese is particularly strong since the animals milked for cheese ate the grains used for brewing beer. It’s possible that your nose and palate may pick up similar flavor profiles. Putting aside their natural affinity, perhaps the most important reason to pair beer with cheese is that the carbonation and brisk qualities of beer refresh the mouth and wash away the tongue-coating richness of the cheese. Simply put, they taste good together.
Take a look at our favorite German-style beers that are readily available here in the United States and recommended cheese pairings. With one taste, you will be declaring “köstlich” (delicious)!
WHEAT BEERS AKA WEIZEN OR WEISSBEIR
You may recognize Hefeweizen on a beer list. Made with a large proportion of wheat and malted barley, wheat beers are lightly golden, sometimes cloudy, relatively low on hop bitterness and highly carbonated. Try Paulaner and Franziskaner.
Gourmet Cheese Pairing:
- Fresh cheeses such as chevre (goat cheese), buffalo mozzarella and feta are not aged and offer tangy and milky flavors.
- Bloomy cheeses such as Brie or Pierre-Robert
With its pale gold color and full-body flavor, Pale Lager is the most prolific beer style in the world. Serve Lowenbrau or Spaten.
Gourmet Cheese Pairings:
- Cheeses with distinct aromas and flavors can stand up to the full-bodied taste of Pale Lager. Offer an earthy Camembert or a mushroomy Fontina on your cheese board.
One of the most popular beer styles, Pilsners have a robust flavor profile, are clear and dark gold in appearance. The hoppy bitterness is more pronounced. Pour Beck’s or Radeberger.
Gourmet Cheese Pairing:
Top 10 Ways to do BLUE for July 4th!
The Fourth of July is approaching and of course, we are celebrating our Independence from ordinary, bland and tasteless cheese by focusing on the wonder that is Cave-Aged Blue. Although it’s creamy, this blue cheese from Minnesota bursts with bold flavor and sparkles with a peppery finish. Check out our 10 favorite ways to do Blue for the Fourth of July and throughout the summer. It’s such a versatile gourmet cheese, there’s no doubt you’ll find even more ways to enjoy it!
Savor Blue Cheese with Ripe Summer Veggies and Fruit of the Season1) Finally, tomatoes are in season! Visit your local farmers’ market and seek out ripe and juicy Heirloom tomatoes. Crumble blue cheese over sliced Heirlooms and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
2) There is no better way to enjoy the sweet and savory flavor play than with salad.
Salad Combo 1 – salad greens, blue cheese, dried cranberries and toasted almonds
3) Salad Combo 2 - salad greens, sliced apples, dried figs, toasted walnuts and blue cheese
4) Dip your favorite summer veggies such as baby carrots, radishes, celery, etc. into this killer blue cheese dip – mix equal parts sour cream and mayo then add caramelized onions and blue cheese.
Grilled Goods Get a Kick with Blue Cheese5) Manning the grill this holiday? Be sure to top grilled burgers with blue cheese and grilled onions.
6) For a vegetarian option, top grilled portabella mushrooms with blue cheese and grilled onions.
7) Grill flat bread topped with sliced pears, brie and blue cheese for an ooey gooey first course.
8) Top grilled steaks with blue cheese.
Impress with Easy Appetizers
9) Spear blue cheese and dates with toothpick for simple and elegant hors d’oeuvres.
10) Toast slices of Italian bread, top with blue, toasted chopped hazelnuts and drizzle with honey. Seriously, yum!
Grilled Cheese Goes Gourmet
Hallelujah! The cheese gods have declared April to be National Grilled Cheese Month. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the ooey gooey goodness of a classic grilled cheese sandwich. In fact, this may be the one instance where I will recommend processed American cheese. You just can’t go wrong with its superior melting properties. But where you can go exceedingly right is by trading in the kid cuisine for a more sophisticated version. Not to worry, it’s still easy to make. Just upgrade your ingredients to include your favorite gourmet cheese and food pairings. Need inspiration? Here are a few of our favorite gourmet grilled cheese combinations:
Smoked Mozzarella/Sundried Tomatoes/Basil
Fontina/Sauteed Sliced Mushrooms/Basil Pesto
Aged Cheddar/Sliced Fuji Apples/Peppered Bacon
Goat cheese/Grilled Portobello Mushrooms/Balsamic Drizzle
PS - Looking for ways to celebrate the glory that is the grilled cheese sandwich? If you live in the Los Angeles area, head to the 8th annual Grilled Cheese Invitational on April 24th.
Finding Joy in the Winter Blues
I am not sure about you but we New Yorkers are getting hammered by yet another blustery snow storm. It seems the arrival of Spring can’t come soon enough although there are only 23 days until the Vernal Equinox. Why not light a fire, get cozy and embrace the winter blues – blue cheese, that is.
Winter is a great time to explore gourmet blue cheese since it pairs perfectly with what I consider to be a cold-weather sipper – Tawny Port. I initially turned up my nose at Port given the medicinal, cough-syrup aroma. But with one sip, I saw the light and will now extol the virtues of a 20 year Tawny Port. With flavors of honeyed dried fruit and a nutty finish, Tawny Port is smooth, sweet and delicious. It makes the perfect foil for an audacious and piquant blue. After a hearty winter meal, this is an ideal gourmet cheese combination for dessert.
Take a look at a few of our Port-worthy favorites:Gorgonzola Dolce - Gorgonzola dolce is a creamy and tangy blue cheese from Italy’s Lombardy region. Easy to spread, Gorgonzola Dolce (meaning “sweet”) is not as spicy as Gorgonzola Piccante (aka Mountain Gorgonzola). Try it on a baguette topped with sliced ripe figs. Mangia!
Stilton – A traditional Tawny Port pairing, stilton hails from England where it’s been produced since 1720. Dense, rich and creamy with hints of nuts, stilton is excellent on its own or with a dab of quince paste.
Generally, I am not a fan of smoked cheeses but Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Oregon Blue is a revelation. Not only is Rogue Creamery the first to craft blue cheese on the West Coast of the US, but they are also the first to ever smoke blue cheese. They smoke their robust blue over hazelnut shells. This lends a sweet nuttiness and meaty nuance to the boldness of the blue.
So if you have those fancy little sherry glasses, the kind that forces the extension of your pinky finger, now would be a great time to dust them off. Treat yourself to the stomach-warming libation of Tawny Port and a little nibble of gourmet blue cheese - the perfect antidote to the seemingly never-ending doldrums of winter.
Seven Simple Tips for How to Serve a Gourmet Cheese Course
Whether you are hosting a soiree or a casual get-together this holiday, your mission is to provide your guests with warm hospitality, lively conversation and a delectable spread of food and drink. Whether the menu is complicated or simple it better be delicious. Serving a sumptuous gourmet cheese course is perfect as a starter or centerpiece of the meal. Not only is the preparation simple (no cooking!) but like fine wine, serving a gourmet cheese course can be mystifying. How to select an array of cheeses? What sort of foods to serve alongside? Not to mention the question of what to drink. Relax. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to serving a cheese course. Just keep in mind a few simple considerations.
1. A cheese course is about observing and enjoying contrasting and complementary flavors. For a foolproof gourmet cheese course, select 3 – 5 cheeses that vary in texture and flavor.
2. For an even more mind blowing cheese experience, serve accompaniments such as juicy grapes, briny olives and crunchy warmed nuts. These little tidbits add even more distinct tastes and enhance the epicurean experience.
3. Cold cheese is unhappy cheese. Before serving the cheese, allow it to come to room temperature (about an hour). This lets the flavors emerge to their fullest. It may be tempting to sneak a bite but will be well worth the wait.
4. Keep the cheeses looking and tasting their best until you are ready to serve. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap so they do not dry out.
5. Save the mingling for the party. Use a separate knife for each cheese so the flavors do not mix.
6. That bold blue cheese may be your favorite but save the best for last or it may be the only thing you taste. Be sure to start with the mildest cheese and progress to the sharpest. This allows your palate to adjust to the increase in flavors.
7. Wines are meant to cleanse the palate, wash away the tongue-coating richness of the cheese and prepare the mouth for the next bite. It’s important that the selections don’t overwhelm the cheese and vice versa. Essentially, you’ll want to match wine and cheese of the same intensity level. Just remember “like for like”.
Click here to view more cheese course recommendations.
Click here to read more about pairing wine & cheese.
Sommelier Suggestions: American Wine & Cheese Tasting
Our wine expert Anu Karwa, founder of Swirl Events, helps us celebrate Thanksgiving by recommending the perfect American wines to complement the Thanksgiving meal and American Artisanal Gourmet Cheese Course Collections.
What to serve with an Aged Gouda:Rancho Zabaco, Reserve Zinfandel, 2007, Dry Creek Valley, CA
Ridge, Pagani Ranch Zinfandel, 2007, Sonoma Valley, CA
The classic red wine to have with Thanksgiving Dinner and an Aged Gouda is a Zinfandel. Although potentially Croatian by origin, Zinfandel has become a distinctly American grape appropriate for this quintessential American holiday. This is a rich, zesty, peppery red wine, not to be confused with White Zinfandel. Make sure the wine isn’t too high in alcohol, which is often the case with Zins from California.
What to serve with an Aged Cheddar:Louis M. Martini, Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005, Sonoma Valley, CA
Franciscan, Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005, Napa, CA
While not inexpensive, a Cabernet Sauvignon with a few years of age (if not more) can be a wonderful wine to add as a holiday tradition and a perfect match for aged Cheddar. An aged Cabernet's tannins have somewhat mellowed out while the rich flavors and structure still shine with a bold cheddar. These are “special occasion” wines that truly celebrate the generosity of the holiday.
What to serve with Blue Cheese:St. Supery, Moscato,2008, Napa, CA – Intense tropical fruit flavors of lychee, ripe white peach, and the juice of sweet green grapes hits your palate and lingers with a slightly sweet finish – a perfect complement to fall’s poached apple and pear desserts.
King Estate, Signature Vin Glace, 2007, Oregon – An superb ice wine from 100% organic Pinot Gris grapes shows that sweets don't have to come in colorful wrappers this holiday. Made from a process wherein ripe, frozen grapes provide concentrated sweet juice. Try this wine with almond cookies for a real treat.
A tangy and punchy blue cheese is at its best when paired with a slightly sweet, though not cloying, dessert wine for balance. It's a perfect way to end a meal.
In Season: Heirloom Apples
You may have heard of heirloom tomatoes but what about heirloom apples? An heirloom apple is a variety that existed prior to the 20th century, before grocery store hybrids were developed for appearance and shelf-life. One bite and you’ll agree that heirloom apples deserve a spot on your cheese plate this Fall.
October is National Apple Month and our farmer’s markets are overflowing with bushels of apples. Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Macoun, and McIntosh are some of our favorites but we are seeing heirloom varieties like Jonathan, Ginger Gold, and Northern Spy make an appearance at our Union Square Greenmarket. Because they are smaller and less hardy than a typical commercial apple, heirlooms are sold at farmers and green markets if you are lucky enough to live near an apple growing region.
Heirloom apples are a great accompaniment to your gourmet cheese board and add seasonal flair. They are sweet and juicy with just the right combination of tart and tannins to refresh the palate. When serving sliced apples, brush a little lemon juice on the flesh so it doesn’t brown. For a classic American combination pair our 3 Year Old Amish Cheddar with a slice of your favorite heirloom apple. Enjoy!
Do Dads Prefer Wine or Beer?
In anticipation of Father’s Day, we recently surveyed Dads about the beverages they select when enjoying gourmet cheese. The results are in and it turns out that Dads defy stereotypes. While Dads may enjoy a cold, frosty beer while manning the grill or watching a sporting event, an overwhelming majority (73%) prefer wine when savoring gourmet cheese. Red wine such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot was favored along with white wines such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. The 27% of Dads who quaff beer with gourmet cheese mostly reach for imports such as Amstel, Heineken, Stella Artois, Becks and Hefeweizen and domestic craft beers such as Yuengling, Sierra Nevada, and Sam Adams.
With these results in mind, we developed the following guide to assist Dad in maximizing his gourmet cheese experience.
|Dad's Guide to Gourmet Cheese, Wine & Beer|
Hey Dads, you told us you dig red wine while only a few love exploring craft beers when savoring gourmet cheese. Did you know that you can choose either? In fact, beer just may be the better beverage choice because the carbonation and brisk qualities refresh the palate. When it comes to pairing gourmet cheese with beverages, there are no hard and fast rules - just one important point to keep in mind. The beer or wine selected should match the intensity of the cheese (or any food for that matter).
Fresh, light and tangy cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, and St. Andre
Light bodied wines with low tannins and high acidity:
RED – Beaujolais, Pinot Noir
WHITE – Champagne, Pinot Grigio
Light and effervescent beers:
More complex cheeses such as Aged Gouda, Cheddar, and Gruyere
Medium bodied wines with riper fruit flavors, possibly some tannins and wood:
RED – Merlot, Rioja
WHITE – Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc
Dry and slightly bitter beers:
Bold, robust cheeses such as aged Cheddar, Piave and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Hearty wines with big flavors:
RED – Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz/Syrah
India Pale Ale
Salty, creamy blue cheese such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Stilton
Sweet dessert wines counter the pungency of blue cheeses:
RED – Port, Sauternes
WHITE – Reisling
Fruity and sweet beers:
Strong, thick beers:
Stout and Porter
In Season: Zucchini
It's almost here! Memorial Day Weekend is considered to be the official start of the summer BBQ season. Need to throw together a quick and easy, yet impressive dish to serve? Try Zucchini "Carpaccio". Sounds sophisticated but it's a super-easy, no-cook recipe. Buon Appetito!
2 large zucchini
High-quality, extra-virgin olive oil
Wedge of Piave, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Pecorino Romano (or any hard, aged, Italian gourmet cheese)
Salt & pepper
- Remove ends of zucchini and thinly slice
- Arrange zucchini slices on a serving platter
- Squeeze lemon juice atop zucchini slices
- Drizzle modestly with olive oil (it shouldn't be drowning in oil, just lightly dressed)
- Season to taste with salt & pepper
- Top with shaved Piave (or other Italian cheese)
- Serves 4 - 6 people
In Season: Fava Beans
Also called broad beans, you will find green markets overflowing with bushels of fava beans from now through July. When entertaining this Spring, try our Fava Bean & Piave Salad. This traditional Tuscan starter can be savored as a salad or piled on toasted slices of Italian bread as crostini. Either way, it is a simple and delightful way to showcase farm freshness of the season. Enjoy!
Fava Bean & Piave Salad
3 lbs fava beans, shelled
6 oz wedge of Piave (or any hard, aged, Italian gourmet cheese), diced
1/4 cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Sliced Italian bread, toasted (optional)
Blanch shelled fava beans in a 4-quart pot of salted boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer the fava beans to a bowl of ice-water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans and gently peel the skins from the beans.
Combine fava beans, diced Piave and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Serve as a salad or on top of toasted Italian bread as crostini.
Serves 4 - 6 people
In Season: Black Mission Figs
In season May through November, Black Mission Figs add an exotic touch to your gourmet cheese board this fall. Succulent and woodsy with a honey sweetness, Black Mission Figs complement blue cheese (such as Gorgonzola, Stilton or Roquefort) as well as Itialian hard cheeses (such as Piave, Parmigiano-Reggiano and aged Asiago). Wow your guests with these deliciously dramatic (yet oh so simple) entertaining ideas:
- Store figs in the refrigerator but let them come to room temperature before serving. Like cheese, their flavors emerge to their fullest at warmer temperatures.
- Cut off stems and cut figs in half.
- Top small rounds of toasted crusty bread with blue cheese and halved figs. Drizzle with honey.
- Skewer chunks of Piave (or other Italian hard cheese) and halved figs with a toothpick. Top with a touch of aged balsamic vinegar.
Click here for more food and beverage recommendations.