By Tania Thomas
Gouda, one of the oldest and most popular cheeses in the world dates back to 1100’s in its native Holland and is still made today. It is named after the city of Gouda as it has historically been traded there for centuries.
Today, the name describes general style of cheese made similar to the old traditional Dutch way, as well as the Dutch original.
Brought to Canada with the skilled Dutch cheese-making immigrants who used their centuries-old secret recipes and their native cultures, Canada’s Goudas are every bit as delicious and as high in quality as the Dutch original.
Gouda’s flesh is light yellow with small holes throughout and it’s usually wrapped up in its signature paraffin wax, ranging in colour from yellow and red to black, according to its age. They are produced in a several different styles, depending on the aging period, addition of different flavourings and whether they’ve been smoked.
In its youth, Gouda is a very mild cheese with creamy texture and buttery notes. Great as an addition to sandwiches, salads and even soups, as it is a great melting cheese. Process of aging makes it firmer in texture, changes colour to golden and imparts complexity as the nutty flavours emerge, accompanied by tangy fruitiness and a touch of toffee and caramel.
There are many great Gouda producers in Canada from coast to coast. In Ontario look for a Farmstead Premium Dutch Gold Extra Aged Gouda crafted by Mountainoak Cheese Ltd. and Golden Blyth Gouda, from Blyth Farm Cheese.
Alberta’s Sylvan Star Cheese Ltd. produces several a great variety of award-winning styles, from Medium and Aged to Naturally Smoked. And if you are looking for “some good old-fashioned plain Gouda” in British Columbia, look no further than Grass Root Dairies.
Now, that you have a few slabs of delicious Canadian-made Goudas on your cheese platter, the next question is what would enhance it and bring it to another level? The answer is, of course, a glass of wine.
But which one?
The truth is, there are many styles in which Gouda cheese is made which makes them very easy to pair with different styles of wine.
Young Gouda would make a great match with fruity, just off-dry Rieslings and slightly aged ones would love Chenin Blanc. Mature and complex styles are robust enough to pair well with fruity Merlot, Syrah and even Cabernet Sauvignon. To explore and find your favourite matches you can start with a few of my favourites:
Lively, just off-dry Riesling, crafted with the grapes grown at the estate’s oldest vineyards’ on the Short Hills Bench in Ontario’s Niagara. Fresh and fruity with crisp acidity. Bursting with aromas and flavours of white peaches, green apples and lime zest with a touch of minerality and petrol on the long, clean finish. Match this beautifully aromatic and flavorful Riesling with slightly aged Gouda. Its sweetness and acidity complement the nutty flavours of the cheese perfectly.
With a history dating back to 1692, Spier vineyards in Stellenbosch region are one of the oldest in South Africa. Their Signature Chenin Blanc is dry, fresh and fruity with crisp acidity and aromas of green apple, pear and honey. Well balanced palate delivers tropical notes of mango, pineapple and passion fruit with a touch of minerality. It would make a great companion to creamy cheeses or on its own as a delicious aperitif.
From Niagara’s Beamsville bench comes this juicy Merlot. Med to full-bodied, fruit forward with lovely depth of aromas and flavours of ripe black cherries and plums with velvety mouthfeel. Plush and smooth, well integrated soft tannins, closes in a lingering cedar-toned finish. Food friendly and versatile, a given as a pairing with roasted meats and medium aged Cheddar, Gouda and Swiss.
Calvet Reserve Merlot-Cabernet 2011, Bordeaux, France
Well structured, rich and elegant, this Medoc beauty delivers an intense bouquet of raspberries, black cherries and cassis with a touch of cinnamon and clove. Fresh and vibrant palate with fine, silky tannins, followed by a long, tobacco and cedar-toned finish. Best served at 16-18 C, it makes a great partner for grilled meats, game and flavorful cheeses. If able to decant and wait for a few hours, you are in for a treat as this opulent red develops its wonderful aromas even further.
Certified Specialist of Wine
As a child, Tania helped her parents pick grapes in her family’s Croatian vineyards, and then later with winemaking. As an adult, she lived abroad in London, England, Milan and Venice, Italy, and explored the food and wine cultures while traveling throughout Europe.
While living in Toronto, Tania completed studies with the International Sommelier Guild (ISG). She continued her wine education with the prestigious, internationally-recognized Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), based in London, England. In 2007, she achieved the WSET Level 3, Advanced Certificate in Wine and Spirits.
In 2013, Tania was awarded with a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) designation by The Society of Wine Educators, based in Washington, DC. She is currently studying for the organization’s Certified Wine Educator designation.
Tania also offers sommelier services and tutored wine tastings, consulting and wine tastings via RunawayGrape.com and is a regular columnist with NatalieMacLean.com as well as the wine expert for Rogers Daytime Television.