This past Friday my husband and I joined in on a Virtual Wine & Cheese Pairing with one of my favorite Oregon wineries, Archery Summit. I told my husband that we were having a date night on the patio and he was all in. It was definitely a fun and educational experience, all about pairing wine and cheese and all of the ins and outs.
I absolutely love learning about how wine and cheese pair together–I mean, they are definitely two of my favorite things. What I liked about this pairing seminar is that they gave a list of the wines and what they were pairing with it. I had a few of the wines from previous visits to their winery, but I really didn’t want to order as much cheese as their on-line recommendations. I took the list to one of our local gourmet wine and cheese shops and had their cheese expert make recommendations. They were exceptional choices.
The two people that educated us were Archery Summit’s winemaker, Ian Burch, and Janet Fletcher from planetcheese.com (you can sign up for her newsletter here to learn all about cheese). They were so knowledgeable about the wine and cheese experience. Archery Summit recommended a tasting on their Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and two different Pinot Noirs–Red Hills and Arcus. I had the Pinot Noir wines but did not have the two white wines. I had our wine and cheese shop select the Pinot Gris that was comparable and I used a Chardonnay that was gifted to me. Both were delicious. (I’m definitely one for using what you have!). One of the things that I took from this tasting is that you can really use any wine that you have with different cheese, just make sure that your wine and your cheese don’t overpower each other. That’s probably the most important thing. If possible try pairing cheese from the region of the wine. (For example, use a French cheese with a French wine, or at least a wine made in the French style.)
Wine & Cheese Tasting: The Basics
According to Janet Fetcher, when you are tasting wine and cheese, start with the cheese first. The order should be cheese, wine, and then cheese again. You don’t want to harm the wine. The cheese is usually the stronger partner in the dance. According to her if you are new to pairing and you want a cheese that will hold up to most wines, try a young gouda. If you want a wine that will hold up to most wines, try a sparkling wine.
Pinot Gris & Raclette Le Superb
Raclette is nutty, sweet, and fruity flavored cheese that is mellow and slightly acidic. Pairing it with a Pinot Gris from Italy is perfect in that the wine is highly aromatic and has distinct citrus and floral notes. It is medium-bodied and elegant with a bright freshness.
According to Janet Fetcher of planetcheese.com, you should “line up the intensity of cheese and wine and look for their aromatic levels”.
Chardonnay & Belletoile Triple Cream
This was definitely one of my favorite cheese of the night. I’m a huge fan of triple cream cheeses and this one is utterly delicious. Belletoile is a triple cream cheese produced in the Lorraine region of France. This delicious cheese has the qualities of Brie. It is made by the cow’s milk and offers a soft texture with surface molds when aged. It has a boomy rind and is creamy, buttery, smooth, and mellow in flavor.
The Chardonnay that I chose was Carabella, which was gifted to me by my awesome friends for my birthday. It’s from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and is buttery, creamy, and mellow. It paired perfectly with the wine in every way.
Red Hills Pinot Noir & Prarie Breeze Cheddar Cheese
This Prarie Breeze Cheddar Cheese is a white cheddar cheese from Iowa. It is sweet and crumbly, perfect with the bold Red Hills Pinot Noir. I loved these flavors paired together. The Red Hills Pinot Noir is bold, fruity, has notes of chocolate and flowers. I loved the sweet and mild cheddar with this wine because of the contrast of flavors. I also added a touch of truffled honey to the cheese for a few bites and it was delicious.
Arcus Pinot Noir & Challerhocker
The Challerhocker Cow’s Milk Cheese from Switzerland paired perfectly with my favorite wine of the night, the Arcus Pinot Noir. This cheese is a type of swiss cheese that is a lovely concoction of roasted peanuts, melted leeks, brown butter, sweet cream and caramel. The Arcus is my absolute favorite of all Archery Summit’s wines. It has notes of black plum, dried black cherries, black mission fig, and chocolate. I absolutely loved the two together. Actually I loved all the cheese with this wine.
So have you been participating in virtual tastings and meetings (other than for work)? I would love to hear about some other good ones–it’s a great way to spend a Friday night. I’m really interested in hosting a few of these wine and cheese tastings and would love to know if you are interested. If so, send me a message and maybe we can learn together.