Party pairings: Wines and cheeses that are better together

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Wine and cheese: It’s much more than an appetizer. During the holidays, it’s a way of life. The no-cooking-required crowd-pleaser is a staple for get-togethers of any size and requires even less skill than the ridiculous recipes that the fake Betty Crocker would have served up decades ago (learn more about that here). However, while the boards don’t require the use of an oven, stove or food processor, anyone who has ever faced the expansive selection of wines and cheeses at the grocery store knows there is an art behind putting together the perfect pairings. We sat down with Bin 77 executive chef Daniel Santana and certified sommelier Mitch Rodgers to learn some go-to tips from the experts:


Things to remember:

  1. Try to match the acidity of the wine with that of the cheese. A quintessential pairing is goat cheese with sauvignon blanc.
  2. Incorporate fruits that are in season. This time of year, that includes such fruits as clementines, figs and darker fruits.
  3. Italian olives are the best kind.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most stores have people who are very knowledgable about the products they sell.

Saint-André triple cream brie goes well with oaky chardonnays.

  • “California whites are better in the winter,” says Rodgers.
  • Suggested bottles: Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay, Duckhorn Vineyards Chardonnay, Poseidon Vineyard Estate Chardonnay (Rodgers’ pick)

     

Beemster X-O gouda goes well with cabernet.

  • “Gouda is very rich in flavor, so you need something to match that intensity,” explains Rodgers. “The Chateau Picque Caillou is dry and better with food, while the Justin is rich and fruity, with a robust and warm flavor.”
  • Suggested bottles: Chateau Pique Caillou, Justin Cabernet Sauvignon (a Baton Rouge favorite)

   

Espresso BellaVitano goes well with merlot.

  • “To me, merlot matches the espresso, cocoa flavor of the BellaVitano,” says Rodgers.
  • Suggested bottle: Trefethen Merlot

     

Honey or cranberry goat cheese goes well with rosé, sparkling wine or sauvignon blanc.

  • Rodgers says to go for a bottle with a smokey minerality.
  • Suggested bottle: Graham Beck Brut Rosé

 

Stilton blue cheese goes well with port wine.

  • “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like a Reese’s candy, and that’s what the blue cheese and Port pairing brings,” explains Rodgers. “It’s a salty and sweet pairing that most people will love.”
  • Suggested bottles: Warre’s Otima 10 Year Tawny, Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Tawny

 

Meats like Toscano salami, Soppressata salami, Speck prosciutto, and Bresaola go well with bubbles.

  • “When in doubt, go bubbles,” says Rodgers. “Sparkling wines have a lot of acidity so they go well with the rich and salty meats.”
  • Suggested bottle: Lambrusco sparkling red wines

     


Places to shop:

  1. For cheeses and meats: Fresh Market, Bet-R Neighborhood Market
  2. For fruits and jellies: Southside Produce
  3. For wines: Mid City Craft Wine and Brew, Bin Q, Churchill’s, Calandro’s Supermarket, Whole Foods

To try more, stop by Bin 77 on Thursdays for the restaurant’s weekly 3-course pairing, which features a meal and wines selected by Santana and Rodgers. The event is designed to help patrons branch out and try something new. For more information about Bin 77, visit bin77.com.

And learn more about how to create the perfect charcuterie board in this story from inRegister’s November issue.

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