Pairing wine with cheese is not as easy as it seems! An easy guideline we’ve all used before is to match the wine and cheese regions, body-weight or flavor profile. Or to do the opposite of body and flavors (fatty cheese with crisp acid); either way seems to work. Keeping it local/regional also always makes sense as the wine and cheese would share the same terroir.
Here are some finer points on cheese:
- Sheep’s milk has the most butterfat, followed by goat, cow, then water buffalo (the Asian buffalo used for mozzarella in Italy).
- The more fat in a cheese, the more acid needed in the wine.
- Orange-colored cheese comes from anato seeds, originally added to differentiate between regions or to mask the seasonal color of the cheese (summer cheese is better – and colored differently – than winter cheese).
- The strongest flavor of the cheese is near the rind, since cheeses age from the outside in.
- When you cut cheese, it’s polite to cut a wedge from the center out, like a pie. That way each person gets some of the most flavorful part and the creamiest part.
- Full-bodied reds are the hardest to pair with cheese and oakey, buttery Chardonnays are also some of the most difficult.
This is one reason Brewer-Clifton wines pair well with cheese; they have great acidity. Last year, I attended one of their artisan cheese and wine pairing seminars, hosted by Santa Barbara’s beloved C’est Cheese. Katherine (pictured below) Graham and her husband opened the place in 2003 and they are a wealth of information about cheese! Their cheese shop and marketplace carries about 120 different types of cheese sourced from all over the world. Stop by to shop, sample the cheeses, and learn! If you want to know more, they also offer monthly cheese classes. The café serves 6 different kinds of amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, with ingredient choices like truffles, piquillo peppers, tomato marmalade and of course, bacon.