Terroir – What This Means to Local Wine and Cheese by Scott Jensen

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Wine and cheese pairing is not just for the snobby connoisseur or the elite diner. Anyone can be a part of this wonderful dining experience and spend an evening savoring it yourself. Since all of us are different and more importantly, all of our taste buds are different, what master vintners and world class fromagiers may say is a correct pairing, may not work for the rest of us. By all means listen to what they might suggest, because they have a lot of experience with taste –but, remember they are just suggestions.  It’s the differences that make life interesting.

Cheese and wine by their very nature are even different from vat to vat. You may be making the same product, but in the food world, there are many variables to production. Terroir plays a significant role in both wine and cheese.  Grapes taken from sunny slopes of Italy have a different terroir than grapes taken from valleys in France. It’s the same with cheese. Milk coming from animals in Swiss Alpine regions possesses distinct flavors that differ from milk from animals on Canadian Prairies.

Understanding the basic concepts of flavors and how they pair, will give you a platform to make your own pairing decisions.  Cheese influences the taste of wine more than vice versa. Wines with lots of flavour work with cheese that also have lots of flavour.  Subtle wines work with delicate cheese; therefore hard cheese with red wines and soft cheese with white. Fruity wines pair nicely with tangy acidic cheese. A sour salty cheese makes a wine taste milder. Sometimes, pairing wines with cheese from the same area works well together. Spicy flavored cheese work well with sweet desert wines.

Sometimes a heavy sugar wine works with a blue cheese. But, in the long run, it’s all up to you to try it out, and find out what sits well with you.  Your goal is to create a balance of flavors of wine and cheese together.

Here are a few pairings of wine and cheese that you might care to try out.

Florence Estate Winery from Langton has a delightful chardonnay -with its light oak and hints of fruit pairs well with the Swiss Alpine Gruyere from the Canton of Fribourg. The subtle textures of the cheese draw out the fruity hints of the wine.

Villa Nova Estate Winery has a Riesling that is clear and floral, and the terroir of their region adds a slight twist of richness that differs slightly German Rieslings. This makes pairing with the English Double Gloucester a true experience. The saltiness of the cheddar takes the edge from the sweetness of the wine.

I am looking forward to sampling the other Norfolk County wines from Burning Kiln, Burning Mills Villa Nova Estate and Wooden Bear-L , when I get the chance. Maybe this weekend I can give it a shot with some close friends and a board of cheese.

For more information on the Ontario South Coast Wine please
go to http://www.ontariosouthcoastwine.com/

Don’t forget to check out some great local cheese at Jensen’s cheese in Simcoe (CP)

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