We are big cheese lovers in our family and usually have at least 4-5 different cheeses at home at any time. Whenever someone drops by unexpectedly we bring out wine and cheese, some good crackers, fig marmalade (my own recipe – figs, pears and cinnamon – I make a lot in the fall).
I like to have a hard cheese, a blue cheese, a brie or camembert, some washed rind cheese, a goat cheese and something stinky.
Sometimes we do a wine and cheese pairing with several wines and a different cheese for each wine. With the Coravin tool it is easy to pour samples from many bottles, or with many guests we just open all of the bottles.
Here are some of the cheeses I often pick with our wines:
Sauvignon Blanc is a dry white wine with more acidity and a mild goat cheese or fresh cheese will work nicely. Black olive tapenade is also nice to add to the plate.
With Chardonnay we can go for a little more flavor and less acidity. A hard cheese like Comte, or a softer mature Brie, or a Port Salut all work well with rounded Chardonnay. There are many US creameries making their own versions of these French cheeses.
Our Viognier is flowery and crisp with pineapple, citrus on the nose and suits the aromatic flavors of washed rind cheeses with their red rinds. My favorite is Reblochon, which is a bit on the stinky side . Unfortunately the Reblochon, cannot be purchased in the USA since it is an unpasteurized cheese which is not allowed to be sold here. But I enjoy it when I go to Europe. Alternatives are Munster, a German semi soft cheese, or French Pont L’Eveque. Local alternatives are many e.g. Nicasio Square from Nicasio Valley Cheese in Marin County, here in California. Nicasiocheese.com. If you cannot find them, just ask your cheese shop for another washed rind cheese. The Port Salut mentioned above is also a washed rind cheese, but very mild.
Our Tuscan Cuvee is a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon and has the fruitiness of an Italian wine and I really like to pair it with a crumbly Parmesan, or fruity tangy Taleggio, both Italian cheeses. Or a mild blue cheese, e.g. Fourme d’Ambert.
For our Bordeaux style wine, West Crest Cuvee, I will pick Morbier, rich and flavorful, the cheese with a horizontal layer of ash inside. I might also pull out a nutty Manchego or Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery. www.cowgirlcreamery.com
An even bigger wine, the 100% Cabernet can use a companion like a well aged Gouda, minimum 18 months, or a big blue cheese like Roquefort or medium blue like Bleu d’Auvergne. The fig marmelade is always out together with these cheeses.
The finale with Late Harvest Viognier I would serve either a Gorgonzola, buttery and salty with blue veins, a very nutty caramelized aged Gouda, 2-3 years at least, where it crumbles in shards or a similar sheep milk cheese like Pecorino. To top it off I use a tiny bit of blueberry jam and some pecan nuts.