Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tasting Wine & Cheese: Finally A Book That Gets It Right

Is there anything better than a great wine and cheese pairing? You might enjoy a
robust cabernet with the sharp, aged cheddar, or perhaps a crisp Sancerre with a
tangy, creamy chevre.

A Cheesy Book That Isn’t

As you might suspect, we taste a lot of wine around here. It can range from rather elaborate meals or parties to a casual after dinner drink. One of the joys of wine drinking is finding just the right food – or cheese – to accompany it. Cheese is often the go-to appetizer, easy to prepare, available in a range of textures and flavors and conveniently sized for munching and swirling.
Finding the right cheese isn’t as easy as you might suspect. What’s the right cheese to go with Gerwurztraminer? How about with Malbec or Sangiovese?Questions like these often prompted me to pore over the internet hoping for a nugget of wisdom.
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Direct Advice, Beautifully Illustrated

Tasting Wine & Cheese by Adam Centamore and published by Quarry Books is as enjoyable as it is indispensible to the wine lover.  Centamore is a Maitre d’ Fromage who also knows his way around a corkscrew.

The book first guides you through how to taste wine and cheese separately. Then he shares his insights on pairing cheese with white, red, sparkling and dessert wines.
Although he confesses to liking  “a plain ol’ wedge of pepper Jack cheese and cheap-o Pinot Grigio” like everyone else, it’s obvious that he has a wealth of knowledge about taste, flavor, aromas and the science of food and wine. He keeps tasting notes on cheeses much like most of us do for wine.
He dispenses capsules of wisdom on how to taste wine, how to create a “rock star” cheese plate, what makes “stinky cheese” stink and the storage of wine and cheese. There is even discussion of the benefits of cork versus screwcap closures. Some interesting factoids:
  • Generally, freezing cheese isn’t a good idea.
  • Honey and marmalades are great condiments with cheese.
  • The temperature of cheese is as important as that of the wine. Keep it room temperature.

Mastering Wine And Cheese Pairing

I found the book fascinating to leaf through. It is one that I know I’ll continue to use regularly as a reference. Tasting Wine & Cheese is beautifully illustrated with mouthwatering photos of wine and cheeses. It is also logically organized like a wine list.
The strength of this publication is its depth. You can get general guidelines for picking cheese to go with Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet – but Centamore tells you about pairings for Trebbiano, Torrontes, Gamay, Barbera and even Zweigelt and Primitivo!
Also appreciated is that he gives general suggestions as to the type of cheese, then gives a number of examples from which you can choose. Assyrtiko, which is a Greek wine, for example, pairs well with soft, creamy cheeses. He also provides guidance as to whether a goat, cow or sheep milk based cheese would be the best choice.
Each section has a passage about the wine, a section on “the cheese that loves it” and a “match made in heaven.” There’s a wealth of information and he pairs it well with a comfortable, concise writing style.
We recently hosted a wine dinner focused on Bordeaux style wines from Colorado. Using guidance from the book, I opted for a mild cheddar (rather than my first urge to grab a super sharp cheese) and the wine and cheese melded wonderfully. The book has a price of $24.99 US and you’ll recoup the cost, no doubt, with your first pairing. It is available on Amazon.
Full Disclosure: We received this book as a review copy.
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