Looking for a way to impress your dinner party guests this season? Lexington’s local wine and cheese shops have combinations suitable for any taste.
To an uncultured palate, trying to successfully pair wines and cheeses can be an intimidating task, especially when entertaining. We asked some professionals in the local wine and cheese industry to chime in with some tips and suggestions.
Wine + Market
At Wine + Market on Jefferson Street, owner Renee Saunier Brewer is a wine and cheese expert with a master’s degree in International Wine Marketing and Management.
Wine + Market carries a wide selection of wines and artisan cheeses from all over the world, and one trick to follow especially if new to the wine and cheese world, is to stick with a region since the heaviness of a food from a certain region will generally match the beverage.
Castilla y León, Spain
With the Hermanos Lurton, a Spanish white made of 100 percent Verdejo grape, the central west region –– or Castilla y León –– of Spain is represented.
The Verdejo is a crisp, dry wine and a citrusy wine similar to a sauvignon blanc, but not quite as citrusy, Brewer explained.
Equally as light and fresh is a Spanish cheese also from the Castilla y León region called Zamorano, an artisanal cheese made from sheep’s milk aged for about six months and rubbed with olive oil to give the rind a richer, darker exterior.
“The cheese is again citrusy, nutty, and it pairs really well with the crispness of the wine,” Brewer said. “The cheese and the wine are both very light and crisp so it’s just a very refreshing appetizer.”
Brewer said this pairing is commonly served tapas style in Spain and works well as a late afternoon snack or appetizer with dried fruits.
Bordeaux and Auvergne, France
If you are looking for a bolder pairing, look to the Bordeaux region of France.
The Chateau Jouanin, a red wine from the right bank of Bordeaux, is a blend heavy on the merlot, but also featuring cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.
The full-bodied wine is high in tannins (the dry, astringent and also heart-healthy component of red wine) that compliment the richness of bleu cheese.
The wine –– which smells of blackberries, black cherries and cedar –– works well with Saint Agur, a double cream, cow’s milk bleu cheese from the Auvergne region (in mountainous central France).
“Bleu cheese is typically very pungent, very sharp and it pairs well with Bordeauxs because they’re typically very robust, full-bodied wines,” Brewer said. “If you were to serve a blue cheese with a light wine, it would make that wine taste like water.”
The creamy texture is strong but not overly sharp and works well with nuts and charcuterie.
“In America this would be an appetizer, but in France you typically have your cheeses at the end of the meal, between dinner and dessert,” she said, adding that typically flavors should escalate in boldness through a meal.
Boone Creek Creamery
- The Blackberry Serenade, made locally by Boone Creek Creamery (forefront), is soaked in Smith-Berry blackberry wine from New Castle, Ky.
At Boone Creek Creamery on Palumbo Drive, owner and cheese maker Ed Puterbaugh’s small batch Kentucky Derby, Blackberry Serenade and Sassy Redhead cheeses have unique Kentucky flavors.
His cheeses are made by hand on a traditional Dutch lever press and can be found at Lexington Farmers’ Market, Good Foods Co-Op and other local markets and restaurants.
The Kentucky Derby is a cheddar cheese infused with Woodford Reserve bourbon. It is a versatile cheese that works well as an appetizer, but also is a fantastic ingredient cheese.