This week, actually it was last week while I was visiting my dad, I noticed that every store I was in had holiday decorations on display in full force.
I don't mean to be the bearer of such trivial nonsense, but if you are over-scheduled and never sure what day it is (like me), there are about 10 short weeks until Christmas.
There are many who do not celebrate holidays but may still be entertaining friends and family for one reason or another. Planning ahead can be a great time-saver so I like to have the basics already in my pantry and ready for the unexpected.
This week I'm starting with cheese planning. Of course, we all have our favorites though sometimes the occasion may call for offering additional varieties.
It is helpful to know the different types of cheese when pairing it with wine so I listed a few popular cheeses that are locally available in most markets.
- soft cheeses, usually creamy and have a soft rind -- such as camembert, brie, tallegio, robiola
- aged hard cheeses, usually sharp and/or salty -- cheddar, gruyere, parmesan
- pungent cheeses, usually salty -- blue cheese, gorgonzola, stilton
- fresh cheeses, usually mild or tangy -- such as ricotta, mozzarella, goat cheese, feta and burrata.
To find a wine to go with the cheese selections can be daunting. Most often we choose to eat our favorite cheeses and the same goes for drinking our favorite wine. This works for those who enjoy their favorites. Believe me I know this is true since grampy never complains if he's drinking his favorite wine.
For the basic rule on pairing wines with our food it's a good idea to start with choosing the wine and cheese/food from the same region. If you enjoy a strong parmesan cheese try an Italian Chianti or a Sangiovese, which is also the name of the grape used for making Chianti, as a starting point.
Another basic wine and cheese pairing rule is to choose a red wine with higher tannins (Cabernet Sauvignon) to go with hard cheese like cheddar. For soft cheeses like brie a white wine with more acidity (Chardonnay) can be a good place to start.
Saltier cheeses such as blue or gorgonzola will be well paired with a sweeter style wine such as a Port. Wine experts consider this is a classic pairing . For additional white wine pairings with salty cheeses try a Sauterne, a sweet Riesling or Moscato d'Asti.
This can be more confusing than it needs to be if you are new to wine pairings so don't let it get to you if you want to try pairing a wine with cheese. To keep it really simple just choose the cheeses you enjoy and if you want help with choosing a wine you can ask the salesperson in the wine shop to guide you.
Remember, "It's really just a matter of taste!"