In my February 19, 2020, blog article I wrote Part 1 on pairing wine and cheese. In that article we looked at three different cheeses, all favorites of mine and I hope yours as well.
This week I will cover three different cheeses that are also on my favorite list. We’ll explore Swiss, Gouda and Blue Cheese and make some suggestions on wines to pair with each.
Before we look at the cheeses, I have selected for this blog let’s cover a couple other items first. As I was doing some cheese book gazing, I came across articles on the correct way to store cheeses and the seven groupings of cheese.
I don’t know about you, but I never thought too much about how you should store your cheese when you get it home. Normally I un-wrap the cheese, slice what I need and then throw it back in the fridge in a Ziploc bag. My research indicates that isn’t the best thing to do. Generally, Mrs. Tiedemann and I try not to purchase more cheese than we can use in a week or so. I have noticed, at times, that the cheese didn’t taste quite as fresh as when we first brought it home. Let’s look at how experts say we should store cheese:
- Most cheeses hate plastic wrap. It doesn’t allow the cheese to breathe and the rind deteriorates. Plastic wrap is a necessary evil in cheese shops, grocery stores, etc. because the customers want to see the cheese. You should remove the plastic wrap as quickly as you can and wrap it properly.
- Wrap semi-firm cheeses in “cheese paper” such as a perforated two-ply paper. Wax paper also works. These types of wrappings allow the cheese to breathe and also absorb any excess moisture. Once the cheese is re-wrapped, place it in a plastic container or some type of cardboard box. This will help protect the cheese from the dry air in the refrigerator.
- When you store your cheeses, you should separate them by the type and style of the cheese. Keep Blue cheeses, bloomy-rind (a rind that is soft and fleshy and white in color) and washed-rind cheese (cheeses that are periodically treated with brine or mold-bearing agents) separated. These cheeses can be hard or soft and should be separated from bloomy-rind cheeses.
- Hard cheeses don’t have much moisture left after they age, so breathing isn’t as much of an issue. Hard cheeses should be wrapped in wax paper then wrapped again in aluminum foil.
- You should change the wrapping every time you unwrap and cut some cheese.
- Minimize temperature changes, just as you would with wine. Bring only the amount of cheese you are going to use to room temperature. Re-wrap and return the remaining cheese back to your refrigerator right away. The flavor and texture of the cheese will take a hit if you return the unused room temperature cheese to the refrigerator.
- Try not to buy more cheese than you will use in a few days. They say that cheese is never better than “the moment it is cut.”
Seven Types of Cheese
As you might expect there are hundreds of different types of cheeses. While each of the cheeses is unique, they each can be broadly sorted into one of seven different groups.
- Fresh Cheese (No Rind). The typical appearance of fresh cheese is bright white and often tastes mild, lemony and salty. Examples of fresh cheeses are Cottage Cheese, Cream Cheese, Ricotta, Mascarpone, Chèvre and Queso.
- Soft Cheese (Ripened). The appearance of soft cheese is a white or pale-yellow rind. Most of this type of cheese has a mild to pungent taste. Examples of soft cheeses are Brie, Camembert, Cambozola and Munster.
- Semi-Soft Cheese. Semi-soft cheese is typically either white or pale yellow in color. The cheese has a mild taste and soft, elastic texture. Classic examples of this cheese are Havarti, Munster, Jarlsberg, Chaumes and American. Semi-soft cheeses are great for sandwiches and recipes where you need to melt the cheese.
- Washed-Rind Cheese. This cheese has a pink to orange sticky rind color. The taste varies and it can be briny, fruity or meaty. Examples of this type of cheese are Limburger, Taleggio, Époisses, Munster and Appenzeller. It’s said this type of cheese is and can be some of the “stickiest” cheese made. It is recommended the best way to eat this type of cheese is to remove the outer rind and pair it with heavily flavored breads such as rye bread. It also pairs well with different fruits.
- Semi-Hard Cheese. The colors of the rinds and the actual cheese depend on the type of cheese. Rinds vary from wrinkled grays to a darkened blue, or red and yellow. The color of these type of cheeses vary from a bright yellowish (Cheddar) to a milkish white (Asiago) to a pale yellowish white such as the Parmigiano-Reggiano. The texture of semi-hard cheeses is firm to slightly spongy. Other examples of semi-hard cheese include Mozzarella, Gouda, Edam, Monterey Jack, Manchego and Swiss.
- Hard Cheese. Most hard cheeses have a firm texture and are yellow to a pale yellow in color. Hard cheeses are generally the richest in flavor and their tastes run from dense to savory. They are well known for their pungent saltiness and rich umami (u-ma-mi) best described as a savory or meaty flavor. Examples include Pecorino Romano, Colby and some Cheddars.
- Blue Cheese. Blue cheeses sometimes offer a colorful appearance of yellow or pale yellow with spidery blue veins running throughout the cheese. The cheese offers a firm texture. Some examples of blue cheeses are Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola and Danish blue. Blue cheeses are known to have a sharp salty or nutty flavor.
In my last article on pairing wine and cheese I selected three favorites of mine, Brie, Cheddar and Goat, to report on. In today’s blog I have selected three more favorites to report on: Swiss, Gouda and Blue Cheese. Let’s get started!
Swiss is another top favorite of mine. As you might guess, Swiss cheese’s origin was Switzerland.
Switzerland is small country, roughly the size of Connecticut and Massachusetts put together, yet it runs a very close second to France in the world of fine cheeses.
Swiss is a mild cheese made from cow’s milk and has a firmer texture than baby Swiss. Swiss is known for being shiny, pale yellow in color and having large holes (called eyes) resulting from the aging process. The flavor is mild, sweet and nut-like. Swiss cheese pairs with a number of wines, both reds and whites. Below is a list of the wines normally recommended for pairing with Swiss.
- Pinot Gris
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
My two personal wine favorites to pair with Swiss are Merlot and a dry Riesling. As always, you can and should drink what you like even if it isn’t a recommendation.
I can’t say I have always been a fan of Blue cheeses. In the past few years Mrs. Tiedemann and I have been experimenting with different types and brands and I am slowly becoming a fan.
Blue Cheese is made from raw milk which is mixed and pasteurized at 162 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds. It then goes through several production steps until mold penicillium is added so that the final product is spotted or veined throughout with blue mold.
The normal flavors of the cheese tend to be sharp and salty. It also has a moldy smell to it.
Let’s look at wine pairings now that we know a little more about the cheese. Blue cheeses are tricky to match with wine. Many Blue cheeses are mild enough to pair well with wines that have low tannins. Here are some examples:
- Pinot Noir
- Aged Cabernet
- Red Port (tawny)
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Dry Riesling
- Italian Whites
- Oaked Chardonnay
There are a lot of wine options for Blue Cheese. The majority of which are whites…the best being a Sauvignon Blanc or dry Riesling. As always it will take some experimenting to get the pairing you like but there’s nothing wrong with that.
Gouda originated in the Netherlands and accounts for about 50% to 60% of the world’s cheese consumption. The younger Gouda will have a more mild, soft and almost sweet taste and texture. The older, more aged Gouda is harder, stronger, darker and takes on a butter, nutty flavor. Gouda is great on sandwiches or crackers.
Let’s look at what wines pair well with Gouda Cheese. Here are some recommendations:
- Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with aged goudas because of its high tannin levels
- Pinot Noir
- Cabernet Franc
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Dry Riesling
- Grenache Blanc
- Pinot Grigio
There are a lot of wine choices for this great cheese. As always, it takes some tasting to figure out your favorite pairing.
Once again, I have asked our LEX 530 Executive Chef, Chad Coryn, to speak on these three different cheeses and give some insight into these cheeses.
“Swiss cheese immediately suggests the classic fondue. Made with the true Swiss cheeses Gruyere and Emmental, fondue pairs well with any dry white wine (which you would also use in the preparation of the fondue itself). Then you just need some good bread or steamed potatoes to dip, and you have yourself a wonderfully simple, decadent, shareable treat!
“I have never met a blue cheese I didn’t love. And I enjoy the extremes, from the ultra-mild, newbie-friendly Cambozola to the sharp, almost burning sensation of a Gorgonzola Piccante. They each have their place. The important thing is to find a wine that is bold enough to stand with them and not get lost! One of my favorite sauces that goes as well with pasta as it does over a filet mignon is a simple cream sauce made with a good smoked Blue, of which my personal favorite comes from Rogue Creamery out of Oregon.
“Gouda is one of those cheeses that everyone loves. Whether it’s a young, creamy and mild cheese, or one that is well aged and flecked with those delicious crystals of flavor (much like a good Parmigiana-Reggiano), I always find a place for Gouda on my cheese board. As with blue cheeses, smoking adds a wonderful depth and complexity to this everyday cheese. My go-to mac and cheese sauce is a traditional béchamel flavored with plenty of smoked Gouda and Dijon mustard, for a more ‘adult’ profile.”
Over the past ten or so years Mrs. Tiedemann and I have started enjoying cheese a lot more often and many times make it our evening meal or mid-day lunch on weekends. I hope this information is helpful the next time you purchase cheese or are considering what wine to pair with cheese.
As always, I appreciate your support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with family and friends. If you are reading this blog for the first time please consider subscribing while you are on the website. This way you’ll get our reviews and articles delivered to you for free in your email box. If you care to share your comments on this blog posting or other topics please do so in the comments section below.
Look Forward To These Happy Things:
Upcoming LEX 530 Events!
Spring Wine Dinner – Friday, April 17, 2020 — CANCELLED
High Tea – Sunday, April 26, 2020 — CANCELLED
Mother’s Day Brunch – Sunday, May 10, 2020 — CANCELLED
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Wednesday, May 20, 2020
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Friday, June 26, 2020
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Wednesday, July 22, 2020
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Friday, August 21, 2020
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Friday, September 25, 2020
Oktoberfest Dinner – Tuesday, October 27, 2020 — with Elkhart’s Iechyd Da Brewing Company
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Friday, November 20, 2020
Important Wine Holidays
April 17 – International Malbec Day (this FRIDAY!)
May 1 – International Sauvignon Blanc Day
May 9 – World Moscato Day
May 21 – International Chardonnay Day
May 25 – National Wine Day
June 26 – International Rosé Day
June 21 – Lambrusco Day
August 1-5 – International Albariño Days
August 4 – National White Wine Day
August 18 – International Pinot Noir Day
September 3 – International Cabernet Day
September 18 – International Grenache Day
November 7 – International Merlot Day
November 12 – International Tempranillo Day
November 18 – National Zinfandel Day
November 19 – Beaujolais Nouveau Day
December 4 – Cabernet Franc Day
December 20 – National Sangria Day