Best Wine And Cheese Pairings, Part I

It can be quite worthwhile to spend a little extra time, and perhaps a little extra money to match your wine and food. Asiago is a cheese of northern Italian origin now produced in many countries. This cheese may be consumed fresh or aged. Fresh Asiago is sliced and usually eaten in sandwiches and the aged cheese is usually grated. Aged Asiago resembles Parmesan both in texture and flavor. I’ll let you in on a secret; I prefer the local Asiago to the Italian Asiago that I buy in a specialty import store. The classic pairing for Italian Asiago cheese is the Venetian Bardolino wine. Other good choices include a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sauvignon Blanc, or a Spanish Rioja.

Bel Paese is a semi-soft mild and delicate Italian cheese whose name signifies “Beautiful Country.” It is produced in Italy and the United States. in Bel Paese is a cow’s milk cheese. It matures for about six to eight weeks, and has a creamy and light milky aroma. Its color is a pale, creamy yellow. It has a mild, buttery flavor and is often eaten with fruity wines. It melts easily and is often used on pizzas and casseroles replacing mozzarella cheese. The classic wine pairing for an Italian Bel Paese cheese is Chardonnay. You migh also try a dry Riesling, a Gewurtztraminer, a Viogner, or a Pinot Noir.

Blue cheese (or bleu cheese) is a cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s milk cheese to which Penicillium culture was added producing a bluish mold. Blue cheeses tend to taste sharp and a bit salty with a strong smell. They are eaten by themselves or can be crumbled or melted over foods. Famous, relatively expensive blue cheeses include French Roquefort, Italian Gorgonzola, and English Stilton. The classic wine pairings for blue cheese are an Italian Brunello or a Cabernet Sauvignon. Other good choices include a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a Riesling, or a Sauternes. Don’t waste an expensive wine on a middling Blue Cheese.

Brie is a soft cows’ milk cheese produced in France, not too far from Paris. It’s made from whole or semi-skimmed milk. It may be consumed either raw or cooked. The rind is white. If you age Brie its flavor becomes stronger and eventually the rind darkens. I am told that in the area where Brie is made many people soak aged Brie in cafe au lait at the breakfast time. Classic wine pairings for Brie cheese include Pinot Noir and white Burgundys. Other good choices include a Chardonnay or a French Muscadet.

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