August 8, 2015 | Teresa Delmare
Science Behind Cheese and Wine
“How can this taste so good?’
That is a question you might have asked yourself when stumbling onto the perfect cheese and wine pairing.
The perfect cheese and wine pairing you ask? Well that completely depends on you. Personally for me, if you have ever tasted that delicious, gooey brie cheese (maybe baked and layered with chutney?) Paired with a perfect Chardonnay—You might have experienced heaven.
A quote by, MKL Fisher says it perfectly:
“Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.”
The Romans, as well as many cultures and civilizations throughout the centuries, thought so too! Typically, ancient Rome would dip their bread in wine and serve with cheese and olives. In Greece they consider wine-soaked cheese a delicacy, and all throughout history different cultures would consider wine and cheese a delicacy or a staple of the diet.
Scientifically, studies have shown that wine and cheese are such great pairings for chemical reasons. Wine is something known as an astringent- a compound that makes biological tissue contract, and literally makes your mouth pucker.
Cheese, on the other hand, is a fat which coats your mouth, and is seemingly oily or slick. When pairing these two opposites together, they balance each other and create balance and harmony.
The average human palate does not wants to consume anything that is too tart or too oily, therefore a balance must be struck. This is why you might see food pairings such as Asian cuisine and green tea, sushi and pickled ginger, and even the standard pizza and beer. (Red wine and pizza as well!)
Of course there is much more to a perfect cheese and wine pairing then simple ‘mouth feel’ and science. The goal of a wine and cheese pairing is to enhance and compliment the flavors and texture of both wine and cheese. Although at the end of the day, the ‘perfect’ pairing is up to the individual (Yes! I know that you might not like blue cheese!) Nevertheless there are many pairings that might take you completely by surprise.
Here are two rules of thumb (subject to exeptions!) when it comes to pairings.
Pair strong wines with strong cheese (blue cheese with port anyone?)
compliment notes in the wine with characteristics of the cheese (such as a smoky red with smoked Gouda)
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the golden rule—practice, practice, practice (not exactly the most terrible homework assignment…) the more you pair your wines and cheese the more adept you will be with the pairings.
Want to experience the perfect wine and cheese pairings, and learn about them from professionals? Learn more from our wine maker, cheese maker and chocolateer in our Meet the Makers event on August 21st.
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