Wine and Cheese? Yes, please!

April 06, 2013

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This month, Missouri Wines celebrates one of life’s greatest dairy delights: cheese. June is National Dairy Month, and while there are a variety of nutritious and delicious dairy foods, few result in a blissful culinary marriage like cheese and wine.

The origin of National Dairy Month dates back to the late 1930s. Initially, the designation was to promote the consumption of milk, however it has evolved into a tradition that celebrates the contributions of the dairy industry as a whole.

According to the International Dairy Foods Association, there are currently more than 2,000 varieties of cheese. Additionally, more than one-third of the milk produced each year in the U.S. is used to manufacture cheese. With all those cheesy choices and the vast variety of Missouri wines, you’re sure to find a favorite match.

While there are no hard-and-fast rules when pairing food and wine, there are some helpful guidelines to keep in mind when tasting these two delicious items. Part of the fun is trying your own combinations to see what complements your palate best. Below are various cheese styles, the wines that pair best and a featured recipe to try.

To begin, let’s divide cheese into four general categories:

Hard: stiff, sharp and can be aged
Blue: strong, pungent, often has a blue tint
Bloomy: creamy, often with a soft rind
Fresh: soft, often spreadable and with a mild flavor

Generally, red wines pair well with hard cheeses. This includes sharp, strongly flavored cheeses such as cheddar, Parmesan and Gouda, which stand up nicely to the more tannic wines. Sip Chambourcin with cheddar and Parmesan, and sip Norton with Gouda.

Potato and Cheddar Cheese Soup: This rich and smoky soup is quick and easy to make. Leave out the bacon to make it a vegetarian dish.
Pair with: Chambourcin

Blue cheeses go well with sweeter wines. Try a late harvest wine or a port with Gorgonzola, and a semi-sweet Vignoles with blue cheese. Another traditional pairing is the rich Stilton with a sweet Port.

Celery-and-Blue Cheese Salad with Pecans: This is a great summer dish to enjoy at a barbecue or while relaxing poolside. Keep an eye out for locally grown pecans!
Pair with: Vidal

A crisp, fruity Vidal and a dry, full-bodied Chardonel are great wines to pair with soft, bloomy cheese such as Brie and Camembert. Missouri sparking wine is also a good match because the creamy cheeses tend to coat the mou