Considering that my Dad was born in Wisconsin, it’s amazing that I only recently discovered the wonders of cheese.
I’ve always known just enough about cheese to be dangerous, and have depended on others–true experts on the subject–when putting together cheese-focused features for The Grapevine, the official newsletter of the wine clubs of Vinesse.
As I’ve learned more, I’ve been struck by the similarities between cheese and wine–particularly when it comes to serving these life-enhancing culinary treats, either together or separately.
For instance, when serving a flight of wines, we always start out with the milder ones, and progress to the stronger ones. As an example, we might start with a silky smooth Pinot Noir, move on to a mildly tannic Merlot, and then finish with a “big” Zinfandel.
In the world of cheese, a tasting flight should begin with a milder cheese, and gradually move toward stronger cheeses. Likewise, younger cheeses should be served before older ones, as a general rule.
When hosting a cheese party, experts suggest setting out the selections about a half-hour prior to serving so that they’re at room temperature when the munching begins. Sound familiar? When a white or rose wine is chilled down too much, its aromas and flavors are masked. That’s why we strive for room temperature when serving all wines, with the exception of Champagne.
And then there’s the matter of the serving size. When multiple wines are being served, we suggest pours of no more than an ounce to an ounce-and-a-half. Interestingly, the same holds true for cheese.
When figuring out how much cheese to buy, experts suggest an ounce to an ounce-and-a-half of each type for each person.
Even the accompaniments are similar. Whether serving wine or cheese–or both–it’s good to offer a number of nibblers such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, apple slices, pear slices, olives, salami and prosciutto.
Wine and cheese pairing isn’t rocket science, but with a little knowledge and preparation, it can be a very enjoyable culinary experience.