One of the biggest questions people have when being invited to a wine and cheese gathering is this: What wine do I bring?
There are so many rules when it comes to wine and cheese pairing (hard wine for hard cheese, soft wine for soft cheese, regional pairing issues, etc.). This is further complicated by the fact that most of the time, people bringing wine to the party don’t really know what cheese is going to be served during the dinner.
A bit of a cultural context to be able to get us Pinoys to understand this better: In Europe, cheese is served towards the end of the meal. To be able to compensate for the sharp flavours, sweet wine is served with cheese. It sounds bizarre, but trust me on this: flavourful cheese is divine with elegant sweet wines.
My ultimate failsafe wines for these occasions can be any of the following:
- Gewürztraminer (from Germany or Alsace) – these babies are hard to miss in a store: by law, these are bottled in what I lovingly call the “ramp models” of the bottling world (tall, skinny ones). Gewürztraminer has feminine floral notes of roses, lychees, cinnamon, lilac, citrus (along the lines of oranges, lemons, and kumquats), tea, and honey.
- Botrytis Wines – carefully selected grapes infected by the noble rot are used to make these. As there is immense difficulty in the production, they can be a bit pricey in some regions (such as Sauternes in Bordeaux, where production can be made trickier by strict laws). An affordable and decent alternative is the Monbazillac (also from Bordeaux).
You can go to a different country altogether and try a Tokaji (from Hungary). The more expensive Tokaji wines will have a higher puttonyos (sweetness level, ranging from 3-6) level or be labeled as Aszú Eszencia (these are made from 100% botrytis wines, therefore extremely difficult to produce, and PRICEY). The late harvest (or késöi szüretelésü) wines are not saccharine sweet, but can hold its own against cheese.
Essentially, botrytis wines have notes of apricots, peaches, and honey… All neatly packaged in a golden, slightly thicker liquid.
What’s your favourite wine and cheese combo? Cheers!