5 Ways to Pair Wine and Cheese With Ease
Everyone knows that red meat calls for red wine, but what would you pair with camembert? Elsa Macdonald, Director of Wine Education at Arterra Wines Canada reveals how to pair wine and cheese for your holiday open house.
1. Choose your cheeses wisely
Forget the generic brick of marble cheddar: a holiday wine and cheese party is the perfect opportunity to be adventurous with your selections. Choose a variety of cheeses with different tastes and textures, and you’ll be guaranteed to have something that appeals to the palate of every one of your guests. When serving a broad assortment of cheese, Macdonald recommends a sparkling wine, like Ruffino Prosecco. “It’s a flexible wine to partner with cheese because the bubbles cleanse your palate with each sip,” Macdonald says.
2. Dress to impress
At a wine and cheese party, the presentation is as important as the pairings. For a cheese board that’s a feast for the eyes, opt for cheeses in a wide variety of colours, coatings and forms. Add festive flair with a soft goats cheese coated in cranberry, which partners beautifully with an intense, fruity red like California’s Meiomi Pinot Noir. And don’t feel limited to just wines and cheeses, either. Macdonald suggests shaking up the selections with an assortment of fruit (pears, apples and apricots), jams, chutneys, nuts and artisanal breads.
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3. Aim for balance
“Try to balance the intensity of the cheese with the intensity of the wine,” Macdonald says. “Strong cheese flavours need to be matched by strong wine flavours so they won’t overpower one another.” If you’re serving a strong, distinctive blue cheese, for instance, consider pairing it with an equally strong—but sweet rather than salty—ice wine like Inniskillin’s Vidal Icewine.
4. Set the temperature
Just like red and white wine, cheese has an optimal serving temperature. According to Macdonald, the wheelhouse is anywhere between 17 and 19 degrees Celsius (cool room temperature). “Bring your Aged Cheddar or Beemster out of the fridge at least an hour before you plan to serve,” she says.
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5. How to pair wine and cheese at holiday dinner
If you’re hosting a sit-down holiday dinner as opposed to a more informal wine and cheese party, Macdonald suggests serving individual platings of three to five cheeses in between the main course and dessert. According to Macdonald, a small taste (aim for around 15 grams) of a smoked Gouda or Cheddar, paired with a chardonnay (she recommends Robert Mondavi Private Selection Bourbon Barrel Aged Chardonnay), is the perfect segué to a sweet dessert.
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