Wine and cheese date
April 2, 2007 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Girl I've been dating for a while likes wine and she likes cheese. Therefore, wine+cheese+Metafilter=awesome date.

My idea of wine: if it gets me drunk=good
My idea of cheese: if it comes from a tube=delicious

Her palate is certainly more refined than mine. I have zero interest in learning about wine and cheese pairings. I just want to know what specifically to bring to the table to make a nice wine and cheese date (usually it's pizza and beer on a not going out night). Perhaps your favorite wine and cheese pairings? Nothing expensive please, this has to be a reasonably priced event. Bonus points for informing me on how to serve it.
posted by comatose to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
You need Winefetch. Particularly their Wine-and-Cheese Pairings.
You can choose to match by wine, or by cheese. Go forth and edumacate yourself.
Trial and error works well too.
posted by lilithim at 4:23 PM on April 2, 2007 [4 favorites]

I just thought it was white wine with cheese, but seems on googling I'm not entirely correct. There are a few articles about this online.
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:27 PM on April 2, 2007

I don't know where you are, but try

They are predominantly out of the L.A. area, but sometimes have classes elsewhere. The classes (especially the wine and cheese class) covered a lot and was more like a social event that a "classroom".
posted by 6:1 at 4:29 PM on April 2, 2007

Where are you located? My boyfriend and I found an awesome (and small) culinary school, Laguna Culinary Arts that have Wine & Cheese tastings and Happy Hours two nights a week, could there be such a place near you? We enjoy this because there is always someone there to help suggest pairings (less pressure on you to get things right at home), and its a very small, intimate setting. Apologies in advance if you are located nowhere near someplace like this, they're somewhat scattered about.

If you have a vague idea of what type of wine she seems to enjoy the most, and have a shop nearby that specializes in wine/cheese pairings then a sommelier or cheesemonger may be able to suggest some things for a date at home.
posted by Asherah at 4:32 PM on April 2, 2007

A bottle of organic Shiraz, a couple of nice goat cheeses, some olives, some little crackers, and you're good. But find out if she has specific likes or dislikes before you spend a mint on expensive imported stuff. You can like cheese and still dislike blue cheeses or squishy crusted cheeses or whatever.
posted by zadcat at 4:32 PM on April 2, 2007

Manchego is an excellent Spanish cheese, nutty and flavorful. It's about twice as expensive as cheddar but worth it. I know f-all about wines though. In general I think you can't go wrong choosing cheese and wine from the same region.

And the truth is a six-pack of beer and a pizza can run you around $18 these days, which is more than the cost of a nice chunk of cheese, a cheap bottle of good wine, and a baguette.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:33 PM on April 2, 2007

Oh, and also...I would say its quite nice of you to set something up that she enjoys, also try and give the wine/cheese world a fair chance. You may enjoy it more than you think, and it doesn't always have to be expensive. Good luck!
posted by Asherah at 4:34 PM on April 2, 2007

Here are a few of my favorite, easy to like cheeses with different textures. They're expensive per pound, but you ought to be able to get small, more affordable portions from a good cheese counter:

Humbolt Fog
Queso de Tetilla

Serve with nice bread, crackers, and some fruit.

Don't worry too much about wine pairing - just pick something that's decent.

And, very important, make sure you don't serve the cheese straight out of the refrigerator! Let it sit out for a bit.
posted by footnote at 4:37 PM on April 2, 2007

There's alot of great wine out there for under 12 or 13 bucks- If you live near a Whole Foods (or similar store, preferably a decent indie wine shop), don't be afraid to go in and ask for help...Tell the person there exactly what you said here and odds are, they can deliver a great wine in your budget/price range...
Some great wines under 12 bucks-
Actual winery/wine names:
D'Arenburg Stump Jump (both white and red) (Australia)
Evans and Tate Underground Series (Australia)
Las Rocas Garnacha (Spain)
Luis Felipe Edwards Cab (Chile)
on and on
(more general ideas: e.g. countries)
Spanish Tempranillo
Aussie Shiraz
Chilean Cabernet
Italian Vermentino

If no one is around, the traditional rule for pairing wines and cheeses: Bigger wines tend to go with bigger cheeses and lighter wines go with lighter cheeses:

Basic Pairings color/ texture pairings:
Heavy Reds- cheddar, parmesan, asiago, blue cheeses
Light Reds & Whites- gouda, edam, muenster- etc

Serve the cheese in small cubes on toasted crustinis (take french bread and slice it so it is very thin, then brush with Olive oil and toast for 2 minutes)...

Just don't drink out of the bottle (unless it's that type of party) and you'll be good (Riedel/Spiegelau stemware can be found relatively cheap these days...heh)...

Hope this helps-
posted by priested at 4:37 PM on April 2, 2007

What's your budget for a bottle of wine?

Some recommendations:
Taleggio and a strong red (a California Cabernet, maybe, though winefetch recommends a Barbera)

Actually, I'd probably go with a big, strong red and a couple of cheeses that can stand up to it: maybe a Taleggio, a Gorgonzola, and a Roquefort. For the wine, maybe a Bordeaux or a Cabernet. Find an indy wine shop and ask the proprietor for a recommendation in your price range (or let us know your price range here). N.B.: This is an aggressive strategy.

Serve the cheese at room temperature, the wine at just a bit below room temperature.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:39 PM on April 2, 2007

Don't forget to have multiple options to pair the cheeses with, several crackers and also fruits: Maybe a thin peppered wafer cracker, a stoned wheat cracker, sliced apple and seedless grape.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:46 PM on April 2, 2007

If you go with gorgonzola, get a pear, and maybe some shelled walnuts. Very traditional, and with good reason.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:52 PM on April 2, 2007

It sounds like you don't actually care about learning about wine so I'll just give you my current favorite pairing (when I don't want spend or think much). There's nice Coppola red for under $15 (I think it's called Rosso) that's easy to find in most wine stores. Woodbridge's cabernet for half that is fine too, if not terribly complex. I pair that with a nicely aged cheddar (NO supermarket crap cheddar please). If she likes white wine, change the cheese to something milder (goat cheese is nice, just make sure it's room temperature) and go with a Sauvignon Blanc (So-vin-yo-blonk). But that's not a meal (I would hope). Throw in some chilled seedless grapes and one of those rotisseried chickens and you're good to go. Serve the cheese with crackers (look for Carr's water crackers) on a cutting board (clean) and the wine room temp if red, chilled (but not freezing) if white.
posted by kitmandu at 4:54 PM on April 2, 2007

bits of dried fruit go well. apricots, figs.
posted by juv3nal at 4:57 PM on April 2, 2007

Ask your local Whole Foods what they have and recommend together. While it's nice to hear about all these personal favorites, it doesn't matter if you can't find it. WF, for any shortcomings it may have, usually has very enthusiastic knowledgeable folks selling the wine and cheese, and they're fairly common that you have one close to you. You can substitute your local independent grocer if you'd like.

The experimentation is the fun part, not the locating-what-someone-else-likes. :) Try some samples before you choose, and definitely pick a few things (olives, nuts, meats, fruits) to try with the wines.
posted by kcm at 5:01 PM on April 2, 2007

Find wine and cheese from the same specific area of production - France is full of possibilities. Goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, Epoisses and Pinot Noir from Burgundy etc. Also works very well with Spanish & Italian wine & cheese.
posted by waylons at 5:15 PM on April 2, 2007

Response by poster: I live in Cincinnati, so finding cheese and wines shouldn't be too big of an issue. There are a few specialty stores that I know of, as well as large party stores with wine and cheese everywhere. I have also never spent more than $15 on a bottle of wine and don't plan on making an exception (I hope she doesn't have a MeFi account).

I don't mean to sound rude when I say that I am not interested in learning about wine and cheese pairings, maybe that will come later or even spark my interest after this date. I just have no clue about the subject and would rather not become a connoisseur/sommelier for the purpose of this date!
posted by comatose at 5:23 PM on April 2, 2007

I really like Idiazabal as well. It's a sweet but intense sheep's milk cheese, goes very well with heavy red wines.
posted by cotterpin at 6:12 PM on April 2, 2007

my personal fave 'everyday' drinking wine is a Rex Goliath cabernet sauvignon (~8 bucks) and i'll leave the 'giant cock' jokes to you and the gf...


i'd pair that with a sharp nutty cheese like gruyere and/or emmenthaler, and definitely some fresh in-season fruit - blueberries and strawberries have both been looking very attractive in the markets lately.

and on review:

oooh! where in cincinnati? depending on your region, you MUST get thyself to Jungle Jim's!!!

it's on rt. 4 in fairfield, and believe me this place is not only the best place to get both wine AND cheese, it is too tackily awesome to miss. o and speaking of tacky, fairfield's just down the road from our good buddy Jesuszilla in mason... right across the street from the worlds largest crap flea market. damn, sometimes i miss living in that part of the world.

actually, nevermind, i don't. the only part that sucks about living in colorado is not being able to buy liquor and foodstuffs in the same damn store. stupid blue laws.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:50 PM on April 2, 2007

on a pragmatic note, i would suggest that you avoid blue cheeses.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:26 PM on April 2, 2007

To do this right is really easy even if you don't want to learn about it. The most important part is to understand that it's not about one cheese - it's about 3-4 different cheeses. None of them has to be in large quantity, so going with 3 isn't necessarily more expensive than with just 1.

But first the wine. You're totally right that you don't have to spend a ton of cash. Pick any popular Australian Shiraz or Chilean Cabernet and you'll be great. If you can find a salesperson who can direct you to a decent French Bordeaux, even better, though at lower prices, you're safer with an Aussie Shiraz.

Now for the cheese itself, the trick is to select a range of cheeses of different characteristics and textures. A safe and easy selection would be a super basic soft goat cheese (looks like a tube, even!), a wedge of Camembert, and a harder cheese like a sharp cheddar. None of these will break the bank, none will be difficult to eat for a non-cheese eater. Someone building a cheese course in a restaurant will do the same thing - vary the hardness and the source of the milk. They just do it with better, stronger cheese. Same thing though, essentially.

Make sure you serve with as close to a real baguette as you can find and if you can get a pear, some grapes, and some walnuts or something it would help. No crackers - use the bread instead.
posted by mikel at 9:14 PM on April 2, 2007

Here's a nice sampler, in order:

Humboldt Fog (already mentioned)
Gruyere -- get a good one, tho
Forme d'Auberge -- a mild, salty blue... very good

Pair these with a nice Riesling (Schmitt-Sonne is inexpensive and not bad at all) and serve with a good baguette, some olives, grapes, nuts, and maybe some dried fruit or preserves.

Finish with lemon stilton on ginger snaps, topped with honey and slivered almonds.
posted by kaseijin at 9:21 PM on April 2, 2007

A safe and easy selection would be a super basic soft goat cheese

are you sure? a lot of sheep & goat cheeses have a particular sour tang that curdles the mouth when mixed with red wine.

blue cheeses also tend to create disgusting antichemistries when mixed with red, especially if you are going with a strong, full-bodied red like an Aussie Shiraz.

otherwise, otherwise, that's great advice from mikel: a range of 3-4 cheeses in smallish portions & some plain white bread or very basic, flavourless wafer-style crackers - you don't want the saltiness of some generic supermarket cracker to overpower your cheese! bread or crackers also add variety to the textures, and can water down the flavour of particularly strong cheeses.

i completely second the idea of fresh fruit - you can munch on some fruit to cleanse the palate between munches of cheese. i'd personally go for something crisp, watery & not too sweet (eg nashi pears, regular pears or apples) peeled & sliced up into little wedges. citrus is a definite no-no: it will kill your taste for the wine. stonefruits also go well - peaches, apricots & nectarines, especially., hm, personally woudn't. dried berries & dried fruit, on the other hand, rock in this context. if you have any pakistani or afghan grocers around, i cannot recommend dried mulberries highly enough, especially with walnuts handy. dried cranberries & fancy sultanas (try a health food shop, not a supermarket) are also nice. dates & dried figs, too.

you could also do well to have a sticky (dessert) wine handy, although with a lot of fruit & dried fruit it can become overpoweringly sweet, so i wouldn't rely on this being the main drink - better as a surprise appearance towards the end of all the tastiness. typically, stickies come in little half-bottles that are not only very cute, but are also often overlooked even by regular wine drinkers, and i think everybody loves dessert wines, in small amounts.

kaseijin: Finish with lemon stilton on ginger snaps, topped with honey and slivered almonds.

ooooh! i am so inviting myself over to your place next time i am in, um, america? can you work any double-thickened cream into that last suggestion?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:53 PM on April 2, 2007

Basic Pairings color/ texture pairings:
Heavy Reds- cheddar, parmesan, asiago, blue cheeses
Light Reds & Whites- gouda, edam, muenster- etc

Eh, no.

As someone mentioned, please drink white wine with your cheese. The tannins (the bitter stuff that makes your teeth purple and stings a bit) in red wine make it very unsuitable to drink with cheese, especially with blue cheeses, which are very salt.

To accompany very salt cheeses, choose a white wine with lots of minerals - a good (bone dry) Riesling from a noble terroir, like Sybille Kuntz (Mosel Saar Ruwer, Germany), or a very mineral Chardonnay, like a burgundy from a good terroir (Chassagne-Montrachet, Meursault, etc.).

Softer cheeses (fresh goat cheese) will go well with lighter, more fruity wines. Sauvignon if you're into acidity, a young Chenin if you like it very fruity, or a white Bordeaux.
posted by NekulturnY at 12:42 AM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

NekulturnY is on the money. I worked in a wine/cheese bar and reds often mask the flavors of good cheese. Get a decent white and you're in business. Unless of course she prefers reds.

I also fourth the recommendation to ask at the store where you're buying both the wine and the cheese for recommendations. No need to spend ten hours online coming up with a list only to find the store doesn't carry that particular wine/cheese. You're not buying a car for crissakes.

I'll leave the cheese selection up to you since that's been covered. When we served a cheese plate it was garnished with thinly sliced cucumbers and red onions (use a chef's knife, be patient and careful), cornichons (those tiny little pickles) and some pitted black olives. Most grocery stores now have olive stations -- go there and pick whatever looks good. Get some good bread and you're in business. Serve the cheese pretty much as it is when you buy it -- in wedges. If you're feeling generous and are buying a goat cheese, pick up some fresh dill and smoked salmon -- then build a little sandwich on the bread.

Don't overthink this. She'll appreciate the effort you went to, and the whole point is spending time with her, not tracking down some obscure wine made in Portugal during a full moon in a year that ends with a prime number. Sheesh.
posted by Atom12 at 6:55 AM on April 3, 2007

Instead of trying to pretend you're an expert at something she knows more about, why not have part of the date be an education from her? Everyone likes to be an expert, so ask her over for wine and cheese, and oh-by-the-way, we'll be stopping at Whole Foods on the way so you can school me a little with your impressive knowledge. You said you don't care to learn about it, but if it's important to her, you'll earn major points by taking an interest in things that interest her.
posted by orangemiles at 9:04 AM on April 3, 2007

You like beer? How 'bout some beer and cheese pairings? (I'm at least half serious — good beer and cheese are glorious together. And if you appreciate beer and she appreciates cheese you can meet each other halfway.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:44 AM on April 3, 2007

Some extra grist for your mill (& stuff for your plate)

Ewephoria Classic calcium lactate rich nutty gorgeousness.

Black truffle honey The most amazing side to go with a variety of cheeses.
posted by lalochezia at 1:15 PM on April 3, 2007

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