CHEESE AND WINE
There’s an old adage in the Wine Trade which says: Buy on Bread; Sell on Cheese! Consequently you won’t see cheese at a professional wine tasting as it has the, perhaps enviable, reputation of making all wines taste better than they really are.
Hence, if one is trying to shift some less than good wine it’s better to offer cheese with it, than bread which will enable you to taste the wine for what it is! Bread and biscuits are what you have at serious wine tastings, you enjoy the cheese at home later!
However, if commerce is not an issue, and you are looking for some super wine/food combinations then cheese and wine is an
excellent option. Having heard and read about the series of tastings with wines and food on Bay Radio and in this column, Sandra and John contacted me to ask if I’d be happy to present a cheese and wine pairing evening at their wonderful house in Montgò, Javea. I accepted with alacrity!
A group of twenty of Sandra and John’s friends and family, including several different nationalities, assembled at the end of July, surrounding a beautiful table adorned with a selection of wine glasses and, of course, several wonderful heavily laden cheese boards. I was proud of the cheese boards, though I can’t take any credit for it as it was all done on advice from the indispensable Claire, who knows a thing about wine/cheese matches having lived in France for ten years!
My other, most able assistant, Dom, John’s grandson, was a whiz at taking off the foils and opening the bottles and he made my job much easier, even pouring, with great aplomb, the correct measure into each glass! At nine years of age he restricted his interest to simply sniffing the corks – a good start for a wine connoisseur of the future!
I should point out immediately of course that there was no attempt to persuade people to buy wine by serving it with cheese – all five wines, each served with a different cheese, are super wines in their own right and certainly do not require any help from cheese! Plus there was no wine to sell anyway!
We started, perhaps controversially with a white wine to accompany a Manchego cheese. Avgvstvs Chardonnay FB 2011 is a lovely wine, made in the Burgundy style rather than New World exotic fruit cocktails and/or over-oaked aromas. Like the French themselves this wine is subtle. Integrated oak – a touch of butter, a creaminess following time spent on its lees and sniff of vanilla, but super fruit too.
This wine was served with Oveja Viejo La Cueva, an aged hard ewe’s cheese. The combination worked well and was enjoyed by all.
Bodegas Sierra Salinas provided the first two red wines tasted. First was their economically priced Mo 2010 – made with Monastrell, Garnacha Tintorera, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, it was at first opening a little tannic but after a time, and certainly when tasted with the Brique Oveja, a soft Ewe’s cheese this time, it really did the job.
Next we enjoyed their Puerto Salinas 2009. The same varieties, minus Syrah, but this time with 15 months in French oak. I really enjoy this wine each time I taste it. It’s rounded and deep with complexity and yet so easy to drink! It’s partner was the super, full flavoured Morbier. A cow’s cheese made with a thin layer of wood ash in the centre, which in times gone by provided a protective line between curd that had been made in the evening (at the bottom of the mould) and curd made the next morning.
This may have been the equal best cheese/wine combination of the evening!
Next a wine that was greatly enjoyed by all, and a cheese that also delighted tasters, but not necessarily when served together! Colección 2009 from Bodegas Castaño, DO Yecla, is the latest vintage on sale from a series of consistently excellent wines – I love this wine. Made mostly with Monastrell there is also a telling 20% Cabernet in the blend. Damsons mix with blackcurrant and a touch of liquorice with the 12 months in oak adding depth of flavour too.
The cheese was Perail Ewe’s cheese. A very aromatic, and at times quite strong, runny cheese. Sheep grazing on French fields where there is an abundance of wild flowers seem to pass on floral aromas to the cheese!
Finally, arguably the winning wine, and maybe cheese too, was the Bodegas Castaño Dulce Monastrell dessert wine/Queso Azul Asturiano pairing. Blue cheese, rich, creamy and taking just a little extra flavour from the walnut leaves in which it is wrapped, is matched with the stunning dessert style red wine, a little on the lines of Port and Stilton – another marriage made in heaven!
If you are looking for a private or group: bodega visit/wine appreciation course/wine tasting/wine and food pairing evenings etc please contact Colin. Also those in the restaurant business would do well to ask Colin to review wine lists/train staff/advise on serving, rotating and keeping wine plus wine/food and wine pairing etc.