Some of the more pretentious folks* I know approach the simplest of buffets—a plate of cheese with some slivers of bread, leavened or not—as if it were a prop to some performance art the rest of us palette-impaired plebs couldn’t possibly comprehend. Why make your guests or family feel inferior? Your approach to serving some nice wine and cheese platters needn’t leave anyone second guessing his hold on reality, wondering why he can’t detect that whiff of Mid-Atlantic seaside copper patina on that Long Island (North Fork, of course) Sauvignon Blanc.
Take our wine and cheese ideas then tailor them to your guests. That might, or might not, mean that you serve them exactly what they want or always expect. If you know that your guests just want chunks of cheddar, Colby and a Cabernet Sauvignon alongside brie and a Chardonnay, fine. Done. Delicious. You can’t miss.
However, if you enjoy providing a little greater adventure for your guests and family, and they appreciate when you take the gastronomic lead, then you might want some wine and cheese ideas that are a bit more eclectic. You can satisfy your desire to honor your guests and treat them to something special.
Wine and Cheese Ideas
Next time you are thinking about serving wine and cheese, but want give your guests some treats they might not think of giving themselves, try these ideas for exciting flavor combinations.
Bel Paese and Chardonnay. Bel Paese, an Italian cheese from Lombardy, is soft, creamy, milky- an interesting matchup for a buttery Chard.
Wensleydale and Gewrztraminer. Pale yellow Wenseleydale was fine fare for eleventh century Cistercian monks, and it shines with a Gewrztraminer from Germany, Alsace, New York or Washington.
Zamarono and Rioja. Few of us eat cheese made from the unpasteurized milk of Churra sheep at home, but its somehow nutty flavor amazes with a glass of Spanish Rioja or a varietal Tempranillo.
Graddost and Chenin Blanc. Skip to Sweden for a soft, tangy yet mild Graddost, then hop south to France’s Loire Valley for a Vouvray or select a varietal Chenin Blanc from South Africa or California.
Havarti and Bordeaux. The semi-soft Danish cheese rocks the classic French red, but you might give an Oregon or Long Island Pinot Noir or a Rioja a drive, too.
Gouda and Riesling, Syrah or Champagne. Dutch Gouda, fresh or young, complements a range of wines well. Try a Washington State Riesling or one from Germany, a Syrah, or an Australian Shiraz, or a genuine Champagne.
Emmentaler and Beaujolais. Mild, ivory Emmantaler isn’t just good for cooking. Match it up with a juicy Beaujolais.
Cheshire and Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich, sharp, a little acidic, Cheshire is an English classic, whether red, white or blue. A big Cabernet will balance out the full-bodied Cheshire.
Cambozola and Sauvignon Blanc. French triple cream combined with Italian Gorgonzola, blue-flecked. Match it with a grassy Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
What you serve can thank everyone for being there; sometimes, however, it is not what you serve, but the spirit in which you serve it that makes the statement. Do you have any wine and cheese ideas to share? Leave a comment with your favorite food pairing!
* “Folks,” by definition, probably cannot be pretentious. Perhaps what I really mean to say is “ultimately effete food snobs who would rather taste the unusual and yucky, provided they get to critique it, than to simply enjoy something tasty and share it with friends.” However, since these are usually my friends, I am choosing my words with care.