Our guest this evening is one of the planet’s most authoritative writers on cheese, and cheese and wine pairings. She’s won six James Beard awards, that’s like the Oscars for the Food and Wine world, for her books and she also was a regular instructor at the Cheese School of San Francisco and she joins me live right now from her home in San Francisco Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club Laura Werlin.
Watch previous episodes of the Sunday Sipper Club (SSC) and find out who’s coming up next.
If you’d like to read the comments for this tasting, or make a comment yourself, visit:
Here’s a sampling from to 108 comments of our lively discussion from our tasting…
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia V.Q.A., Canada
Santa Margherita Ripasso Valpolicella Superior 2014
Tuscany D.O.C., Italy
• Sparkling wine — Champagne, Oregon (Argyle), Franciacorta, or lean cava + Spanish Monte Enebro (if available), goat brie or other soft-ripened goat cheese
• Sauvignon Blanc, French or American (not NZ or South African) + a fresh chevre or any Loire goat cheese (Valençay, Selles-sur-Cher, Sainte- Maure)
• Chardonnay (lightly-oaked only) + an English-style aka bandage-wrapped cheddar (perhaps Avonlea from Prince Edward Island?)
• White Burgundy + Triple-creme such as Cremeux di Citeaux (if available) or Brillat-Savarin, St. Andre or Explorateur
• Pinot noir + truffle cheese (cow’s milk)
• Chianti + Pecorino Toscano
Laura Werlin is one of the country’s foremost authorities on cheese. She is a James Beard award-winning author of six books on the subject, is a sought-after speaker and spokesperson for consumer and trade organizations, and is a frequent television and radio guest.
An expert in cheese and wine pairing and in particular American artisan cheese, Werlin received the prestigious James Beard award for her book The All American Cheese and Wine Book. Her book, Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials, received a James Beard Award nomination. Her most recent book, Mac & Cheese, Please! focuses on one of America’s favorite comfort foods, while two of her other books, Grilled Cheese, Please!, and Great Grilled Cheese focus on the other. Her groundbreaking first book, The New American Cheese, published in 2000, set the stage for what is the American artisan cheese movement today.
Laura has been featured on numerous television and radio segments across the country including Fox & Friends, CNN, QVC, the Martha Stewart Show, the CBS Early Show as well as numerous local television and radio shows. In addition, she has been the subject of instructive yet fun cheese-related videos on the popular website chow.com. She also writes for national magazines including Food & Wine, Sunset, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Culture, Saveur and Cooking Light.
Werlin is known for her approachable yet authoritative teaching style and is frequently asked to conduct cheese and wine pairing, cheese education, and cooking classes across the country. She is also a regular instructor at The Cheese School of San Francisco.
In addition, she serves as the President of the American Cheese Education Foundation and is a member of the American Cheese Society and Slow Food USA.
When she isn’t eating or teaching about cheese, she can be found jogging on the streets of San Francisco, where she lives, or hiking in the mountains, which she loves.
Well the holidays are right around the corner and I can’t think of an easier way to entertain than with wine and cheese, but which wines and which cheeses? That’s exactly what we’re going to explore tonight on the Sunday Sipper Club with our special guest who joins me live from San Francisco. I’m Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine review site at NatalieMaclean.com and you have joined us here on the Sunday Sipper Club where we gather every week at 6 p.m. on Sundays New York, Toronto time, to talk to the most intriguing people in the food and wine world. Welcome everybody, I’m so glad you can join us. And before we get going, and before I give the full intro to our guest tonight, please post in the comments below, what is your favorite type of cheese? I would love to know. And I’m going to refresh on Facebook just to see that you can see and hear and everything’s going well, but I would love to know what’s your favorite type of cheese, and what have you got in your glass tonight? Alright, excellent, Rochelle has already joined us, and Anne. Rochelle in Ottawa, Anne in Halifax, Paul is in Virginia. I’m looking festive tonight. Yes, I’m a bit like a Christmas tree. Thank you Paul for noticing. On to our guest, I’m glad it’s all working technically.
Our guest this evening is one of the planet’s most authoritative writers on cheese, and cheese and wine pairings. She’s won six James Beard awards, that’s like the Oscars for the Food and Wine world, for her books and she also was a regular instructor at the Cheese School of San Francisco and she joins me live right now from her home in San Francisco Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club Laura Werlin.
Well thank you so much for having me. I’m so honored that you want me as one of your guests. I really appreciate it.
Absolutely. This is such a popular topic. People are dying to hear from you Laura, I just want to welcome Dave Head has joined us and Beverly from California, excellent. Laura, I just did the high, brief outline. Fill in the details for us and tell us a little bit about your personal life.
My personal life, well we can think about that. Well first of all, let me just say that I did not win six James Beard awards, although that would be wonderful. I did however win one, and then one of my other books was nominated.
I didn’t want the James Beard organization to think well why is she claiming all these awards?
No it’s not you, it’s me, so I’m claiming it. But you published six books on the topic of cheese.
I have published six books on cheese. That’s exactly right.
That’s what I conflated, but you know what, we all know they were worthy, every one of them of a James Beard Award. Anyway.
Well thank you, all right. To fill it in–
I actually was in a completely different field. I was in television news and I did that starting in college and I was behind the scenes. I did some recording as well but mostly it was behind the scenes and after doing it for a long time, I decided that I wanted to go off and pursue my passion which was writing about food. So I took some food writing courses in San Francisco and then I went to my first conference of what’s called the International Association of Culinary Professionals which I think you’re familiar with,
IACP, exactly. And they have cookbook awards every year and I sat in this auditorium by myself. I didn’t know anybody at that point in food and I was inspired, just the notion of writing a book, and although I had never wanted to do that before. In any case, I knew that if I were to write a book, instantly I knew it would be about cheese. And not just cheese, but cheese in America, what was happening with artisan cheesemaking in the US. And so I never looked back from that crazy notion and it was crazy because people thought that I’d lost my mind leaving TV news to write about American cheese.
Yes, it’s quite a switch.
They thought it was what is there to write about single wrapped slices, you know? Anyway, and so it went from there. American artisan cheese is still my focus though I talk and write and lecture about cheeses from all over the world and I’ve certainly traveled to visit cheesemakers in Europe, that is.
Wow, and why did you choose cheese Laura, as opposed to artisan bread or charcuterie or all kinds of other or wine even? I know you do pair cheese and wine but you consider yourself foremost a cheese expert, so why cheese?
Well because I loved it. I didn’t know anything about it but it’s just sort of an example of pursuing your passion and I was just lucky that I was able to find an agent who found a publisher who believed in the idea of a book written by someone who had never written a book and certainly wasn’t known in cheese, about American cheese, and so I really had a lot of lucky breaks along the way as far as getting launched but it was really just born of an absolute, unadulterated passion.
Excellent, wow, I can identify but on the wine side of things.
I get it.
Once my first book came out and I went on a book tour and all of that, I was asked frequently to do cheese and wine pairings and I always said sure because I loved wine and I had taken classes in wine, but anyway I wanted to do that and so that is really what led to my second book which is the one that won the Beard award called the All American Cheese and Wine book and that’s just sort of an exhaustive tome on how to pair cheese and wine or wine and cheese depending how you look at it.
Yes, right. Earrings first and then the outfit or outfit first then the cheese. Excellent, that’s awesome, okay. I’d like to welcome Lori Kilmartin who joins us and she loves wine and cheese. Rob is wondering Laura, if your books have been translated into Dutch at all.
Well I don’t know, is the short answer. It’s possible because there have been some international sales but I don’t know if they’ve been in the Netherlands or not.
Okay, all right, fair enough.
So Google it Rob on Amazon, I’m sure Amazon knows the answers to everything.
So you would find a translation there if it exists. Welcome Dave Head and he is pointing out that we have a cheese of the month club, Cheesy Place. Gourmet cheese of the month, that’s interesting. And Rick Dalderis says–
Where is that?
Yes absolutely, Dave can you tell us where that is? He’s a part of a club that subscribes to three cheeses a month, great selections. It must be in Ontario, because Dave is in Ontario. So I’d like to know about that too, so Dave post in the comments below where you’re getting that. Rick Daldaris, wine and cheese is the only way to dine, absolutely, so we’ve got favorites of Brie and Cheddar and others that are coming in, So folks if I missed your comment, please post it below again because these comments go by so quickly. Lou Michelle, welcome, excellent, and if you’re just joining us, we have Laura Werlin here tonight, a cheese and wine expert and we’re going to take the deep dive into that topic. Laura, we’re going to get into very specific pairings of course here because you’ve suggested some before we had this live chat, which I’m dying to and I’ve been trying to hold back from eating all the cheeses before the show began, so it’s been very difficult I must say because you chose some wonderful combinations but maybe you can describe one of the strangest or most unusual pairings you’ve had. We talked about this before, but I’d love to, for people who missed that, tell us about this unusual pairing and why it worked when perhaps we might think it would not work.
Right, well at the beginning of my exploration of cheese and wine, I was attending a reception and they had French champagne and they had a blue cheese from the mountains on the eastern side of France called Bleu de Gex, and I had never tasted that particular blue cheese before and again this was long before I was writing about cheese but trust me, when there was a table with cheese, I went to it. I tasted this blue cheese with this champagne. It happened to be Veuve Clicquot and I went crazy for it. I never would have thought. Because blue cheese you think of and back then, I actually really wasn’t pairing anything. I wasn’t paying attention to that. I just liked cheese and I liked wine and I had them together which is true for so many people and there’s nothing wrong with that and so I just really fell in love with the bubbles and then I began to think about it and when are bubbles served, they’re served with salty foods, whether it’s caviar, right?
Yes, so it made sense in that way and also the fact that a lot of blue cheeses are creamy and that’s when you want to call into service bubbles because they act as sort of scrubbing bubbles to cleanse your palate and then make way for another sip, another bite, another bite, another sip and it goes like that, so, you know, so, but when I was so, really naive I guess about cheese and wine pairing and sort of the magic that can happen between those two things. That’s when I came upon this cheese and this champagne and fell in love.
Wow, and you have recommended a bubbly tonight, or you asked me to get a bubbly. What I got was a Chandon bubbly from California. You were suggesting an American one so I was picking wines I could get here locally in Ontario and you wanted me to match that with a goat brie or other soft ripened goat cheese which I have as well.
Maybe as I sip and munch I’ll do the heavy lifting of actually trying these while you just talk. How about that?
Oh my gosh.
Why do these work? Why does a bubbly and a goat brie, why do those particular ones work?
There’s a cheese actually in the US,
called Humboldt Fog. I don’t know if it makes its ways across the border or not, it’s made close to the Oregon border, but it is a goat cheese. And it’s what’s called a soft ripened cheese. A soft ripened is the kind, like Brie is the best known. It’s got that white bloomy rind as it’s called and so what I want do, and so when I had Humboldt Fog with sparkling wine, I was just really wowed by the combination and the reason is because goat cheese has a lemony characteristic to it.
And why is that, why does it have that lemony? Is that what the goats are eating?
No I think it’s just the composition of the milk and also the cultures that are added to it, which is really what gets milk from-cultures are what sour a milk. So actually goat’s milk right out of a goat is pretty sweet but then it gets transformed. The lactose, the milk sugar gets transformed into lactic acid, and somehow, it’s probably the combination of the cultures that goat cheesemakers use and probably something in the milk too, but I did not take microbiology in high school or college so I don’t know what that is but what I do know is that goat cheese is very often the fresher style ones, tend to be pretty, like I said, lemony. And many sparkling wines are too. But for this, I felt like there was a richness also to goat brie in particular that and depending how ripe it is, that makes a difference as well, but, that would be a nice pairing with a sparkling wine which again going back to what I said about the bubbles, kind of cleansing the palate and then also the typical acidity that one finds in sparkling wines would bridge over to that tangy quality that you get in most fresher style goat cheeses.
So you tell me did it work?
It worked, it really did. You know what you’re talking about, not that you needed my validation but you know the cheese was kind of mouth-coating as soft cheeses are and that bubbly cut through like a silver knife with its, you know, its acidity and zest, it’s a beautiful combination. And as you say, one helps the other, you take a sip of the wine then the bite of the cheese, and you want to go back and forth, you don’t satiate out too quickly because you’ve got the two of them going.
Yes, that’s exactly right and I would just like to say to people that first of all, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to pairing, you know, and more than that, what you’re looking for ideally, if when you are pairing, is one of three things or what I call the way I define them is that you have what I call Switzerland, so you have this neutral pairing and you have the cheese and you have the wine and you have them together and they’re fine, you know they taste fine. Nothing wrong, they play well in the sandbox together. And then you have what I call the Titanic so as we all know, that didn’t end very well.
And so you have the cheese and you have the wine and together they make these other flavors that you kind of wish you hadn’t had. Luckily that doesn’t happen very often.
What are the bad flavors? Just the clashing or the other descriptors too?
Well, it can be, for instance, it can be soapy, so the same kind of cheese that you’re eating, the soft ripened cheese,
with that kind of cheese, the rind is the first thing that starts to deteriorate when it’s going, you know, downhill.
And, so you will taste that and taste it with wine and at first, it might taste fine but then all of a sudden, it goes south, and all you’re left with is a bitter and soapy flavor, so that can happen. Another thing that can happen is you can end up with a metallic taste in your mouth, and I found that to happen sometimes with certain blue cheeses and super-tannic red wines, that is a lot of people put blue cheese with red wine and I haven’t had a whole lot of luck with that. But again I was talking with people, friends last night who had put a fairly ripe Pinot Noir with a blue cheese,
a couple of blue cheeses, and yes, and they loved it so, you know, but I think what saved that is the fruit in the wine. So if you have a really old Burgundy, I think that’s not going to work so well.
No, that’s going to kill that Burgundy.
Well it will.
Nasty, very nasty.
Right, then the other pairing that I strive for is what I call nirvana, and that’s when you have the cheese and you have the wine and all of a sudden, the angels come and they sing.
In your earbud, yes.
What do they sing, Laura? I’m just wondering if my angels are singing the same tune.
Well that’s good, they sing that the cheese and the wine are great on their own and boy are they even greater together.
It’s true, it lifts it to a heavenly combination that the one on its own either or could not achieve by itself, it’s true. A cloud of sensory pleasure. Yes?
And I was just going to say along the sparkling wine lines, particularly as we go into the holiday season, that is I think the overall best cheese pairing wine there is, so if you have a selection of three or five cheeses, a sparkling wine is going to touch pretty much all the bases,
Sparkling wine I think is the wine that can handle the toughest food matches, so if you’ve got oysters or all kinds of things from spicy to eggs to anything, it’s just the wine that can take it all and so again, it’s the holidays, it’s festive, we’re opening up bubbly. I just think the sparkling wine is terrific with so many-Is there any cheese that sparkling wine really doesn’t work with?
Well that’s one of those cases where, if you like the wine and you like the cheese, it’s particularly sparkling wine, it doesn’t matter but I don’t know that there is I mean there, maybe some of the stronger cheeses, which can sometimes be creamy which is what you do want with sparkling wine but there’s a category of cheese or family of cheese called washed rind, and in France, maybe the best known one is a cheese called Epoisse?
Oh yes very stinky right?
Like ammonia or something?
Well it can be, yes. Sometimes it’s likened to the socks in your gym bag, obviously not clean ones.
That’s just nasty.
Exactly, but they’ve actually done some chemical analysis in it and it’s exactly what you’re smelling in that cheese is exactly what exists in our human biology.
And some people pay money for this?
Yes exactly, oh yes well I’m one of them actually.
There’s an Italian cheese called Taleggio which is a little milder and that might work with sparkling wine but I think very often the reason it doesn’t work is because those strong cheeses can kill the wine.
Anything, yes, anything. All right, well JP says he loves wine and cheese. He’s not as sure what to pair, which pairings work best. You’re going to learn that tonight, JP. I’m glad you’re here. And Jim Clarke, excellent topics. Stephen Andrews loves blue cheese and Port. Lise Gagne, she’s stepping in late, that’s okay. You can catch up Lise. And Fred I believe was here earlier, again the comments go so quickly, he likes the pictures that we’re showing Laura of your cheese presentations because as we’re talking I’m intermixing the slides of pictures that you sent me.
They’re loving the layouts and that sort of thing, so that’s great.
Anna absolutely and Lise loves sweet wine and cheese, okay. Let’s continue on here with our pairings, and again just repost your comment folks if I miss it. Also I tend to forget this but please share this video. If you are enjoying our chat, please share it and next week, we will pick somebody who has shared this video tonight with a comment to win one of Laura’s books and we’ll be talking more about Laura’s books shortly and we’ll get her to show us her books but you can win one of her books. She writes fabulous books on cheese and that’s what we’ll be giving away based on those who share tonight. Or if you are watching this video replay, you still have a chance because we don’t pick the winner till next week. At the same time, I’ll also be announcing the winner of last week’s contest and that winner will be getting a copy of the Red Wine Diet book. We had a chat last week Laura, just so you know with Dr. Edward Miller who talked about the health benefits of wine so that was last week’s topic. Anyway, so we’re looking forward to that. Speaking of that, if you have some of your books there Laura, why don’t we hold them up and you can tell us a little bit about each one.
Well can you see it?
Yes, we can see that.
This is the new American Cheese as you can see and this was my first book. It has 55 profiles of American cheesemakers and 80 recipes and all kinds of information about cheese and about wine and about how cheese is made and the history of cheesemaking in the US and things like that. And then that’s the one that led to the All American Cheese and Wine book which is the one that won the Beard award, and this is all about how to pair cheese and wine.
That’s all it is.
[Natalie] That’s terrific, and all of these I assume, are available in Amazon or online retailers–
I hope so.
I would assume.
I only say I hope so because I know that the Cheese and Wine book is, it’s in the process of being reprinted, and so it might be out of stock at the moment, I don’t know for sure.
Well congratulations, people could pre-order though or put themselves on a wait list on Amazon, but that’s a kudos to you.
Well thank you.
You’ve already gone to a reprint.
Oh there’ve been several cause this book’s been out for a while. So it’s just a question–
Yes, so it’s publishing speak, we don’t need to go into it, because all it does is annoy me frankly. We authors have a hard time having our books stay in print. Anyway, this is called as you can see Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials and when I was talking about the different families of cheese, this is what I wrote about here and the whole idea is if you understand the families of cheese of which there are eight, then you can walk into any cheese shop of which there are many wonderful ones in Canada, oh my goodness, and really have a sense of what you’re doing without even knowing the names of cheeses because I think that most people are like me where you have a wine for instance and you’re like oh I can’t remember what it was, well the same is true with cheese you know.
What I contend is that you don’t need to know the exact cheese you had before. All you needed to do is be able to describe it a little bit to the cheese monger who can then point you in the direction of maybe a similar cheese, it might not be the same one. And so, I wanted to make cheese more simple because people are intimidated by it and end up buying the same one or two cheeses every time and so I’d like people to expand their cheese horizons and particularly in Canada. I’m not kidding, the cheeses up there are so amazing and I had the good fortune of going to Toronto a couple of years ago and visiting the Cheese Boutique I think, or Cheesetique, is that what it’s called, anyway now I’m blanking on the name, but it’s in one of–
No but someone will jump in on the comments.
Okay, yes, help me out. The most magnificent story, not just cheese though that’s certainly their focus but they have wonderful products. If you go in there and you see all these cheeses and you think oh my goodness, where do I start? Well first of all, a good cheese monger will help you as they do there and also, just knowing the families of cheese, knowing that you like blue cheese then gravitate toward the blue cheese section. Knowing you don’t like blue cheese, stay away from it. That’s a whole family of cheese that you can avoid or go toward depending on your preferences.
Absolutely, that’s fantastic.
Well thank you. The other three I’m going to hold them up if I can get to them at the same time because these are my fun books.
Two of them are on grilled cheese and one of them on mac n’cheese let’s see, can you see them?
Yes, I can see them, yes. Okay, grilled cheese, gotcha.
And not surprisingly my first grilled cheese book called Great Grilled Cheese, I believe that’s still in print actually, and that has become, just so popular. I think it was popular from the day that it was published and that’s what led to my second book on grilled cheese because why not? Each of them has 50 recipes for grilled cheese and in fact, the photos that you’re putting up of me teaching were from a class I taught in September in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and it was grilled cheese and wine pairing.
We had grilled cheese and we had wine and then cheese also just on it’s own so that people could taste the cheeses in their natural form, followed by in the grilled cheese form, with the wine pairings that we did set out to do. All kinds of fun with grilled cheese.
That’s fantastic and oh, these comments have been flying by with lots of comments and questions, I’m just going to pick off a few here. Stephen Andrews says what pairs with Limburger, before we get to that–
I would say beer actually.
Oh beer okay, question answered. Yes, that’s a really strong stinky cheese right?
It is very strong and traditionally, it is paired with beer and don’t ask me what kind of beer because
I’m not a beer expert.
And this isn’t a beer show so we’re good. Where is Limburger from? Is that Switzerland or where is that, Limburger? Germany?
Germany, okay. Yes, stinky cheeses. All right, Rick Daldaris, Laura enjoyed meeting and talking with you at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Event a few years ago.
Yes, thank you.
Yes, you’ve got some fans, more than some.
Well I love that event so much.
I’ve heard good things about it, really good things.
Yes, it’s great.
Lori Kilmartin says, “Yes, the Cheese Boutique I love it.
“I take a cooler when “I visit.” Murray Johnson “I love Sunday nights. “Tonight with two great authors, “another informative evening, ladies.” Okay good, Murray is having fun, he’s enjoying this.
Terrific, I hope he has a little cheese and wine alongside.
Yes, does anybody that’s a great point, folks do you have any cheese with you tonight? I know I sent out a message earlier today to our regulars with the list of cheeses and wines but I wonder if anyone is actually tasting a cheese and wine right now. If you are, please post in the comments below, what’s in your glass, what’s on your plate. I would love to know. So Laura, let’s go on to the next cheese and wine pairing. You suggested that I get a Chardonnay that’s lightly oaked, with, I did get Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar from P.E.I.
Absolutely. And with it, I’ve got, I went bi-coastal. Not postal, but bi-coastal. I’ve got Five Vineyards from BC, Chardonnay from Mission Hill and it’s an unoaked Chardonnay. It’s fresh, it’s crisp, it’s aged and fermented in stainless steel from BC and then with the cheese from P.E.I. on the other end. Why would these work?
Well hopefully they do–
And I’m sure they will.
You know we don’t really think of pairing cheddar with white wine but because of basically the tanginess that often exists in cheddar, sometimes we call it sharp but that’s different. That to me is borderline when it says sharp on it, that to me is borderline bitter, which lot of people like but it’s not as wine-friendly and so the reason I wanted you to get this Avonlea cheese, it’s not only because it’s really delicious.
And for those people who haven’t heard of it, it is what’s called a Bandage Wrapped Cheddar so what that means is during right after the cheese is formed, into it’s usually a cylindrical shape, it is literally wrapped in cheese cloth and then they put on, every cheese maker is different. They might lard it with actual lard, so spread lard around the outside.
What does that do to it?
Or butter and what those things do is that because that cheese is going to be sitting on an aging shelf with pretty low humidity for quite a while, could be a year maybe even two sometimes. And so that prevents the rind from cracking and it doesn’t flavor the cheese at all, it’s just to keep the cheese cloth adhering to the outside of the cheese and the whole point of having it age like that is because air is oxygen is that cheese’s friend for a variety of reasons, but you don’t want it to dry out and become a rock. That’s why they spread the butter or the lard or whatever it might be on it but it doesn’t penetrate the cheese any.
Wow, why did you suggest an unoaked Chardonnay with this, it’s working beautifully by the way.
Oh I’m glad to hear that, because oak is not really our friend when it comes to cheese pairing as discouraging as that might be, particularly white wine and the reason is because very often, there are going to be nice parity between the cheese and the wine, but if it’s super-oakey again speaking in the Chardonnay vernacular at the moment, what ends up happening is that that oak gets exaggerated. Whereas it might have been in balance just sipping the wine, very often a cheese will take it off balance and the oak is very like ” Ooh, I don’t want to feel like “I’m licking the side of a barrel.”
That’s great for you, that’s a good picture. So the cheese will emphasize the oak. Interesting.
Is it the proteins in the cheese that are somehow…
Well it could very well be. It also could be the fat believe it or not, but again I skipped that microbiology class but I know it’s microbiological in nature the answer to your question. So I don’t exactly know what it is that, but I think it’s also how and where we taste things on our tongue.
On our palate, all of those things will create that effect and so what I was hoping with the Chardonnay either unoaked or lightly oaked and the cheese is that for one the wine might cut through the richness of the cheese because it is a rich cheese and also that it would not, I don’t know, I guess it would just kind of match the tanginess in the cheese as well.
It does, it has a zest and then there is the tang of the cheese, it’s nice. I would have thought that this cheddar would have needed an oak Chardonnay to stand up to cheddar, right?
But, it actually is
a better combination.
Well or again lightly oaked and a lot of people ask me if I want to open that Cabernet Sauvignon that’s sitting in my cellar, what cheese would I put with it? And so it’s the same answer actually it’s just bandage wrapped cheddar because the bandage wrapped cheddars have so much what they call umami, that fifth taste, it’s not sweet, it’s not salty, it’s not sour, it’s not bitter but it’s got that savory,
As long as that Cabernet is I would say little on the older side, a super-young one has so much pronounced oak that very often anyway.
Yes and tannins exactly. So you want to mellow those things a little bit and then go for that cheddar.
Such a good combination. So JP says “No wine for me tonight” but he is eating a medium cheddar, a gruyere, and a Swiss.
Sounds great. He went to the mountains for two of those,
the gruyere and the Swiss. Swiss sometimes called Emmenthaler, those two are both Swiss.
Awesome. Lori loves truffle cheese, we’re going to get to that in a moment Lori, so hold that thought. Stephen Andrews loves Oka, smoked Balderson, baby Belle with Alsace Gewurztraminer tonight, that sounds like a good combo.
That smoked Oka and Gewurztraminer that’s brilliant, I’m all for that.
Spice and smoke.
A little sweet too.
Yes, exactly. Guy Seguin says Cabernet Sauvignon with Le Rustique, a soft ripened cheese and some two-year old Balderson Cheddar, both from Quebec I believe.
Yes, wow, they’re really on fire here. Rachelle “I love cheese my top three would be “Parmigiano-Reggiano, val-a-kay, valenkay and–
Valencay, okay. I’m not as familiar with cheese names as I am with wine names, so please do correct me because I’m just going to butcher the whole cheese language here. Blue harbor, blue cheese from Halifax she loves too, she’s a Maritimer.
I was going to say that’s not the cheese that I get down here, but I’d love to try it because the other two Valencay and what was the first one?
We’ve got, let’s see, Parmi-Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Right. Those are both great cheeses. Valencay for those that don’t know it’s a goat cheese from the Loire Valley and it’s ash covered, so it’s edible vegetable ash and they used to use that as a means of deterring flies in the pre-refrigeration days.
That sounds nasty.
Yes, I know. No the ash has no flavor, the flies were, but the ash has no flavor and it lends a real beauty, probably everybody that’s seen it maybe not known what it was, if you’ve been in a cheese shop.
I’ve got one tonight because based on what you suggested, Laura. What is the ash made of?
I have yet to find the actual answer to that because I’ve heard of grapevine, that would be, kind of nice, and I don’t know because it’s obviously very specialized process because, that it’s not going to taste like an ashtray, and it actually what it does is it does search and neutralize the surface of the cheese as that cheese ages and it basically allows it to ripen, to mature and usually there is the white rind as well as the ash somewhere in there.
Not just ash.
Yes, I know, I’ve got these all in a plate but they’re going more than room temperature so they’re sort of seeping into the plate so I’m not going to try to lift them up or show them but yes, very interesting.
As a general guideline for people, if they can find a white wine from the Loire Valley like the Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc, and then a dry one, and then find either a soft ripened goat cheese like that goat brie you had or a Loire cheeses, they certainly make their way into North America.
And so you were saying with this cheese pairing you did not want me to get a New Zealand or a South African Sauvignon Blanc for this purpose so why not those?
Well you certainly can. I just find them to be so assertive on the grapefruit front, on the gooseberry and all the things that define the Southern Hemisphere Sauvignon Blancs that I don’t find it as happy a marriage with these kinds of goat cheeses as I do those from the Northern Hemisphere. But as I said early on, for people that, if you like the cheese and you like the wine, go for it, because the pairing will work for you.
Absolutely and so I have one from Sauvignon Blanc from Monterey, California. Cool climate, and I’m finding this is not so aggressive on fresh cut grass rev your lawn mowers type thing so it’s got more of the lime citrus lift and I think it’s working well with the goat cheese as well.
Again Sauvignon Blanc it does depend what the style is in terms of what it’s going to marry with, but most of all, I encourage people to try all these things on their own and get say three different kinds of Sauvignon Blanc and a goat cheese, or maybe three goat cheeses whatever, but really mix and match and see what works for you and then try to think about what is it, is it that, that tanginess in both, that I’m really fine works well together and also one of the things that matters with cheese and wine pairing is not just flavor, but texture, so you have a light wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, it’s probably not going to marry quite as well with a cheese that has a heavier, creamier texture, too big basically. You probably want to pair textures of cheese and wines so with that creamy cheese, you might be better off with a Chardonnay which has more mouth feel, more fullness in the mouth than a Sauvignon Blanc typically does.
Absolutely and Laura your audio is really good but something is moving around, maybe on your desk.
No it’s okay.
I get so excited, I just move around.
I know it’s hard.
Is this better now?
Yes, I think it was just your cord was moving or something is moving but that’s okay.
So speaking of Chardonnay, I’ve got also from that same winery in Monterey, a Chardonnay from the cool climate and so what would this go well with? A cool climate Chardonnay, I guess we already talked about the Mission Hill but this is a California Chardonnay. In this case, would this be working with Brie or something like that?
Yes, I was just going to say absolutely. Yes, and even a triple cream might work. So what a triple cream is it’s a cheese that looks like Brie, but they’ve added cream to the vat with the milk to boost the butter fat and richness and some of the best known ones are Explorateur or Saint-André–
Brillat Savarin, absolutely, one of my favorites, and that too is very good with sparkling wine. Again for the same reason, the bubbles and the cream are just terrific together.
I am now licking my fingers because the cheese is melting but anyway, we have an amazing cheese up here called Riopelle named after the Quebec Artist Jean-Paul Riopelle,
and that’s triple cream Brie
and it is amazing and it’s sliding off my plate fast and furious.
Oh I’m glad you got that. No I actually had that when I was in Toronto, I did a cheese and wine seminar at Toronto Food and Wine at the time, and this was maybe two years ago, and Riopelle got on my radar and we had a good seminar,
It’s so good.
And, it’s darn good. It’s really good.
And we can eat the rind on this right?
Yes, well that’s personal preference.
Two things when you have in mind that kind of cheese, in other words the soft ripened. For one, that is as I said earlier part of the cheese that tends to go first is that rind so if that’s the case it’s going to smell and maybe even taste a little bit like ammonia and not that anybody has actually tasted ammonia I hope but we know what it smells like. So that’s where you wouldn’t eat the rind, because the inside of the cheese might still be okay. Once the cheese is gone though, it’s gone. But then the other thing is it really is personal preference. If you like, I like the rind on that kind of cheese because it offers a textural sort of difference between the creamy inside and the more toothsome rind, so I like that textural contrast, but not everybody does. But one thing I would say is when you go to your holiday parties this year, and if there is a cheese like that on the table, do not dig out the center and leave the rind behind, that’s cheese etiquette 101!
Don’t do that.
Don’t do that. Just cut the whole piece and eat what part you want and wrap the rest in your napkin and I don’t care put it under your host’s pillow but just don’t,
just don’t leave it behind.
You’ve seen the detritus on a salad bar or a cheese bar.
I wonder if there’s any parallel between sort of meat that’s close to the bone and cheese that’s close to the rind, is it juicier, sweeter, more flavorful, the cheese that’s right beside the rind, the way the meat is with a pork chop?
Yes, no it’s a great question. The reason that it’s called soft ripened is because it ripens or ages as it does that. It gets softer. Most cheeses have yet get harder, it’s a process of moisture loss. But the interaction of the bacterial molds that create that white rind and the proteins in the cheese serve to break down that cheese and that begins just under the rind. Very often you’ll see a cheese like a Brie, that looks almost like it’s three layers, you’ve got the rind and you’ve got a sort of a creamier layer and then you’ve got a little more chalky, little more solid looking layer it’s going to be a slightly different color maybe a little whiter and so when you eat the rind, you’re going to get every morsel of that creaminess that’s starting to happen and I love that. Again though, not everybody likes that rind, all you have to do is use a good knife, like a butter knife really, to dig out that creamy part because that’s where the goods are exactly, like with meat close to the bone.
Oh nice. Some great questions here. JP, excellent question. Wines have a point system. Why doesn’t or does cheese have a point system?
Well, you know, I think that wines have a point system based on the magazine in which they are appearing, right?
So if it’s Wine Spectator, that’s their point system. There isn’t, I don’t think, an official, well there probably is, you can answer this better Natalie, an official point system I suppose when you’re judging there must be, but even that might be based on that particular competition. In cheese, we do have a point system, in the sense that there is cheese judging, and depending how that contest or competition has been structured, they get ratings. Be one to 100, or it might be one to 50, there are all different ways of doing it. There isn’t, however, an official one it is true, and probably just because there isn’t a magazine to champion that cause, at least not yet. There are two wonderful cheese magazines, one called Culture,
and the other is called Cheese Connoisseur. Those are great magazines, but neither of them rates cheeses like that.
Oh, interesting, okay. Donnah Whitaker, I like cheeses with rinds and soft centers like triple cream and Brie, or Humboldt Fog, which wines would you recommend? I think you are starting to answer this. I think we may have covered this but, just to recap, for these would you go with the Chardonnay from a cool climate for those rich cheeses?
Humboldt Fog, it’s the most wine friendly cheese I’ve ever encountered,
I’ll have to try it.
and I’m glad to know that it makes, well I don’t know where she’s commenting from, if it’s the US or if it’s in Canada, in any case. But yes, I would do a lightly oaked or unoaked Chardonnay. What you’re going for is acidity. And you’re also going for mouth-feel.
As long as it’s got some Chardonnay typical characteristics, good fruit and everything, but also acidity, then, yes that’s exactly what I would do.
Absolutely, okay. Then Lise says she just purchased a triple cream Brie from Quebec. Which wine should she pair with it? She’s got Cabernet Franc, or a Pinot, or something else?
Well I’m afraid I would go for the bubbles or the white wine with that, but, I would, but maybe the Pinot would work. It’s so hard to know what the styles of these wines are that you have there. But I would typically don’t pair red wine with triple cream cheeses. It tends to clash and it’s closer to my Titanic analogy, than Switzerland or nirvana.
Because what winds up happening, the reason is the cream in that cheese tends to find tannins, that even if you have a lightly tannic wine, red wine or even white wine with oak, it tends to find those tannins and exaggerate them so amazingly that you’re like, wait this wine was in such great balance, and now I’m tasting with the cheese and not so much.
That’s true, yes, amazing. Okay, Donnah says she is in Ohio but she gets her wine from Ontario. She must have a secret underground source.
Yes, yes, I’m envious.
She’s in Ohio. Sam has joined us from BC. Best pairings for a Burgundian style Pinot Nior. And you actually suggested I get a Pinot Nior with the truffle cheese which I think I’ve eaten all of it but I’ll see if there’s a scrap here left for me to try because that is just addictive. Truffle cheese, maybe tell us first what truffle cheese is.
Yes, it can be made with cow’s milk or sheep’s milk, not typically goat’s milk, and it is with little flecks of truffle are added to it. Not truffle oil, though sometimes there is a cheesemaker in Italy who adds a little to the rind but basically it’s just little flecks of truffle, black truffle, that are added to the milk and then it becomes a truffle cheese. And of course they’re very aromatic and flavorful, so the cheese ends up tasting like truffle. But then you’ve got this sort of cream background for it, and it’s truffles and cream all in one bite.
It’s reminds me of chocolate cake with this raspberry swirl through the middle, the swirl being the truffle and it’s so addictive, I mean, yes.
Oh. Wow, what cheese did you get? I don’t think I’ve seen this one.
Well no, but it’s the truffle cheese, and it’s,
Oh I see what you’re saying, yes yes yes!
and just comparing, the way they’ve inflected it with the truffle through the middle, it’s like you’re digging through that cake to get to that core.
That’s exactly right, the payoff, although it’s scattered throughout which is pretty great. Truffles and mushrooms, that’s when you start to go into the Burgundy region, the red, the Pinot Noir.
Because it’s got those essences, those aromas in the wine itself.
Right, right, exactly. That’s exactly why. And also, yes, that is the main reason. And, it’s not always easy to find a pairing with Pinot. But that one works typically across the board, and I think the question was also about Burgundian cheeses. To be honest, even when I was visiting a pre-emanate cheesemaker there, the one who made Epoisse the way, what we know it to be today, and he would not serve his strong cheese with Pinot. He served it to us with a white Burgundy, a Chardonnay. There aren’t that many Burgundian cheeses at least that I know about, most of them tend to be in the triple cream or washed rind category. For the most part, I would not pair a red Burgundy a Pinot Noir from Burgundy with the Burgundy cheeses. I would go further afield to some of the harder cheeses that are made outside of Burgundy.
Yes, absolutely. My goodness Laura, it’s already 10 to the hour, so this has flown by, I would love to chat with you again. Oh my gosh, the comments are still coming in, so, anyway…
Well, if I could just finish then with the sweet wine.
We’ll finish with desserts, since that came up earlier.
And Port and cheese too.
Sweet wines, and you want to have an equal and opposite contrast. So you want, if you have a super salty cheese, then we can go for that Port, or that super sweet, and you know that, I love Inniskillin Icewine, that’s just a great way to go with blue cheese. And then, that’s really what you’re looking for if you have a just a mildly salty cheese, you only want a mildly sweet wine, because otherwise the wine will taste too sweet, and you won’t taste the cheese. Just go equal and opposite and you’re good to go.
Oh, that sounds great. Absolutely, there’s so many good things to try. Is there something we haven’t covered tonight that you would like to mention?
Oh my goodness.
I know it’s a big topic.
Yes, well, I mean, no, I just, I do, I mean I’ll say it again, I want people to know, well first of all, as we go into the holidays, I will say this, that we don’t want to, we all want to have cheese and wine and everything, all the time, well I do anyway,
but particularly at the holiday time, so, whenever you’re entertaining, no matter what time of year, you want to have, if you’re serving the cheese before dinner, like as an appetizer,
then you want to have savory accompaniments, as opposed to sweet ones, so say you like olives, or maybe even carmelized onions, which are sweet but they also are kind of savory too.
Those kinds of things that go with, and then you only want maybe three cheeses because you don’t want people to ruin their appetite.
Then, or, if you’re serving it after dinner, then I recommend serving just one cheese, and getting the perfect wine for it, like the perfect cheese and the perfect wine.
And if it’s going to be the wine that you’re continuing with from dinner, a big red wine then you want to get probably that cheddar we talked about that Avonlea Bandage Wrapped Cheddar from P.E.I. Or you want to finish with a triple cream, almost dessert like, and then you can have like a sweet accompaniment, maybe even a little honey or something like that, or a jam
and then sweet wine, yes.
And that’s a great way to either end the meal entirely, or create the bridge between the main course and the dessert.
Oh, so good, oh my goodness. Okay, we need part two. Laura, we know your books are on Amazon.com, where can we find you online? Your website, your social media, what would you like to mention, where can we find you?
Well my social is on Twitter and on Instagram, it’s Cheezelady, so it’s C-H-E-E-Z-E-L-A-D-Y.
And otherwise my website, well, Facebook, Laura Werlin, or Laura B. Werlin, I post on both.
B as in boy. Or my website is laurawerlin.com.
That’s excellent. And a nice little sound effect there too. Ta-dah! This is so informative, this is a huge topic, but so educational tonight we learned so much, so many great insights to get us ready for the holidays and that is coming through on all the comments, oh my goodness, they’re flying by. Laura, thank you for joining us. I’m going to stay online folks for a bit longer, so stay tuned or keep online. But Laura, thank you so much, we’re going to wish you all the best for your books, your upcoming books, your existing books, the sales of those and all of your holiday plans and thank you so much for joining us here tonight.
Well thank you for having me, it’s totally my pleasure and I hope to, maybe I can take one of your new online courses so I can learn still more about wine because I think you’d be a great teacher.
I didn’t send you the $20 bill for that one but thank you Laura.
You’re very welcome,
I really mean it.
you’re so sweet, very nice. Yes, great topic, you’ve got to come back.
Okay, thanks so much,
I appreciate that.
okay, thanks Laura!
All right folks, let me just come back here to center. Wow, look at all of you people commenting, oh my goodness, I’m glad you enjoyed that. Lou, that was great, thank you. Sam, Beverly, so great. Okay, Laura come back, loved it. You know what, we’ll get her back guys. But in, I don’t know if it’s two or three weeks time, we have also another cheese expert coming onboard, Janet Fletcher, also from San Francisco. This is such a huge topic. This could indeed be it’s own course, and we’re going to keep going. Another great cheesy show, I call this show, Come to Cheesus. It’s a spiritual hour, come to cheesus. Cheesus, right, ta-da-dah? Anyway, my usual things that I forget to say, please post in the comments below what was the most interesting thing you learned tonight? I always love this, I love to see what you guys are learning, what you loved. It helps me form the future shows. Also, share if you loved this conversation whether you’re watching it live or on the replay, share it. Let your peeps know, let your followers know that this is a conversation or this is a video chat worth watching. And also, you could win one of Laura’s signed books, her beautiful cheese books. That’s what we’ll be picking next week, so you have tonight and next week to do this. When you share it, make a comment and of course, why don’t you follow? If you want to connect with me on social, these are all my links. I basically created links that will default to the various social media. If you type in nataliemaclean.com, /facebook, /twitter, /linkedin, /instagram, blah blah blah, you can connect with me. And finally, I’ve been told to say this at the end, please come join us! We are a happy tribe, a wine tribe, not just here on the Sunday Sipper Club, but also on the website. I have a newsletter, I have an app, I have so much more to offer you guys. So come, sign up, join us. All right, so we need to announce a winner. Seeing if anybody is still here. Yes, good Stephen Andrews is still here, Paul is still here and Lou Michelle. All right so the winner of Roger Corder’s the Redwine Diet Book is, drum roll, yes, I like to hold back, Tom Head, Tom Head, whoo! All right Tom, you need to email me, and we’ll get that book to you this week. Share, etcetera, and we’ll be back next week. Next week, you know who we have next week? It’s going to be awesome, is Vij. The most, probably almost the best known, most famous restaurant in Vancouver, is Vij’s. It’s Italian cuisine, but this is a man who cares about wine pairings. It’s Indian cuisine but he has these most exotic wine pairings and both Vij, the chef, who is an award winning chef, and cookbook author, and he’s on Dragon’s Den, hello celebrity, he’ll be here with his sommelier, Shawn, and they’ll be talking about the intersection, the matches, of spicy dishes with wine. Do I not bring you the best people every week? Yes I do, okay. I’m glad you liked it Murray, JP, Lou. All right, so guys I am going to sign off for tonight, as always you can catch the replay and this was fun. It’s the highlight of my week. Take care and I hope you enjoy some great cheese and wine matches. We’ll be back next week, take care.