Wine and Cheese Meet Their Match: Together

CBC News host Marivel and I chat about pairing Canadian wine and cheese for Canada Day and beyond in the video above that was syndicated nationally (click on the arrow to watch).

We are filming in the CBC studios head office in Toronto, which has an open atrium in the center the building, and is open to 15 floors. Down in the main court, you can hear the sounds of the band warming up in the background for a gala event that night.

We just rolled with it ;)

Beyond the tips we discuss, some interesting health-related tidbits include:

Cheese is an excellent source of both protein and calcium: only two ounces of low-fat cheese (about 170 calories) gives us 40% to 50% of our recommended daily value for calcium and about 15 grams of protein.

The well-known Mediterranean diet includes cheese and wine, and is touted as a reason why the French live longer on average than North Americans, aka the “French Paradox.”

Cheese actually helps cut the amount of cholesterol in our bodies, and as a result reduces the risk of a heart attack.

Several studies say that the reason is associated with how our bodies digest cheese.

Cheese increases our levels of butyrate, a compound produced by gut bacteria, which is linked to reducing cholesterol.

As well, as people try to avoid saturated fats, whose risks have been over-stated, they tend to eat low-fat products higher in sugar and trans-fats, which have an even more negative impact.

Saturated fat has been found to be protective against heart disease according to some studies, and of course, in moderation.

These tips are not medical advice: consult your doctor for personal recommendations.

You can also watch clips from CTV News, Global Television and CTV Morning Live with more pairings, as well as radio interviews on Sirius XM, syndicated nationally on satellite, and CJAD, Montreal’s most popular talk show.

Posted with permission of CBC.

Wine and Cheese Meet Their Match: Together

Marivel: So Natalie why don’t we start with this neat contest that you held for Canadians, what was that about?

Natalie: Sure. So it was called the Great Canadian Wine and Cheese Match … a match, a playoff, a competition about pairings. What we had Canadians, from coast to coast, do was nominate their favourite Canadian wines to pair with Canadian cheeses. So it’s a little different from your traditional competitions which might be judged by experts but not involving food. It was a lot of fun.

Marivel: How did you come up with that idea to open it up to the average person who is not that expert in wine or food?

Natalie: Well that was part of the motivation. How can we get more people engage with wine? It’s my passion. I’ve been studying it and writing about it for 15 years. It gives me such pleasure and there’s so such diversity in this country, in the wines and cheeses that we produce. I thought there has to be a way to connect more directly with wine drinkers, the wine consumers themselves.

Marivel: Can we get a sense of some of the suggestions you got for pairings?

Natalie: What’s really great about both cheese and wine is you want to start with the light flavoured, light body, cheeses and wines and then work your way up to the more full-bodied ones.

Marivel: Okay.

Natalie: So, close to you, we have a Riesling from Prince Edward County. It’s called Righteous Dude and it’s a righteously good Riesling. What’s really great about this wine is that it has screw caps so you can get into it quickly and that’s always important. If you’re on the deck or at the dock for Canada Day or for summer entertaining; you don’t want special equipment.

Marivel: Right.

Natalie: So this Riesling is an absolutely lovely wine to pair with mozzarella and I wonder if you would do us the honours of pouring.

Marivel: Let’s grab our special white wine glasses.

Natalie: I don’t think you’ll need a lesson for this.

Marivel: So nothing fancy?

Natalie: No, you can do a little flourish if you want. Good there you go, well done.

Marivel: Good I’ve been doing it right this whole time, now.

Natalie: Good with the pour, too. So Riesling is a very light-bodied white, it’s a great summer wine it has this sort of zesty racy acidity. Acidity is not to be feared. It’s what makes your mouth water.

Natalie: Nice floral.

Marivel: Fun, it’s lovely.

Natalie: Isn’t that beautiful?

Marivel: Riesling is one of my favourites so that’s a winner for me already.

Natalie: That’s fantastic and its low in alcohol which is great for summer sipping by the deck or at the dock. And this one is from Niagara, an Ontario wine region and another light zesty white wine. It would go with the mozzarella we just tasted or we could try it with a Canadian Feta that we have on the tray here.

Marivel: Okay.

Natalie: Again it has good acidity and it’s not going to overwhelm the cheese … beautiful and you’ll find that it’s a nice summer sipper. It will also go with the triple cream cheese that’s in the middle of the tray…

Marivel: Okay.

Natalie: We might want to try that one. It’s called Riopelle and this triple cream cheese is named after the famous Quebec painter Jean-Paul Riopelle. Go ahead and help yourself to some of that. He lent his name to the cheese and he lent one of his paintings to the cheese package.

Marivel: Okay.

Natalie: Yes, so let’s try that …

Marivel: Bite first and then sip?

Natalie: Let’s try the wine first…

Marivel: Okay.

Natalie: And see how the wine changes after the cheese … that’s always fun too. We want to be thorough, right?

Marivel: I’ll follow your lead.

Natalie: Alright good.

Marivel: You’re saying if we use your rule, we go lighter to a little bit more bold.

Natalie: Exactly, we’re drinking and eating our way up in a good way.

Marivel: Okay.

Natalie: We’re going to do a transitional wine. It’s by no means neutral though. It is a  Pinot Noir which to me is sort of the red wine twin of Riesling. It is a really terrific wine that we do well in Canada. It has that same racy acidity but it has this great cherry-berry fruit. So think about the things that you might garnish cheese with … maybe some fruit, maybe some nuts or grapes.

We’re back to Prince Edward County again. I guess I’ll do the honours with Casa-Dea and it has almost a cranberry taste to it and I think it’s going to go really well with the Canadian cheddar from Balderson that we have today. We’re going to do two different reds with the cheddars to see which one you like is the best.

Marivel: Okay.

Natalie: So try the wine first and then take a little piece of the cheddar and see how that works for you. What’s really interesting is that Balderson has made cheddars to go with wine and call it their “vintners wine.” Its kind of neat because they’ve adapted the sharpness, the salt and the creaminess of the cheese to suit different types of wine.  It’s all about experimenting. I like to say there’s no perfect pairings and so this to me is a great way to have a fun tasting party especially on Canada Day. You don’t have to turn on the stove, you can just do a big spread of everything we mentioned.

Here we have more of a full-on Baco Noir from Henry of Pelham in Niagara and this is a specialty for Canadians, Canadian wine producers and especially for Henry of Pelham. It’s a full-bodied red wine. So if you like a big Honkin Australian Shiraz or a cabernet, try this. There’s nothing like it.

Marivel: Even the smell.

Natalie: It’s more full-bodied…

Marivel: Yes.

Natalie:  … and stronger. Here you might get bright red fruit but there you’re going to get black fruit and smoke and char and mystery.

Marivel: So there is a real connection, it makes a lot of sense…

Natalie: Absolutely.

Marivel:  to pair wine and cheese.

Natalie: Yes, they’re both products of fermentation, they both start as liquids, and the quote I love best is “Cheese is milk’s reach for immortality,” meaning once it ferments into cheese, milk can age and last and develop … and as cheeses develop, they develop this range of flavours that is just incredible. We made a thousand different cheeses in Canada alone. We probably make more than 30,000 different wines with more than 300 wineries and each of them is making multiple wines. Think of that range.

Marivel: Let’s see what you have for a Grand Finale?

Natalie: Okay, let’s bring it on. Your most pungent cheese is your blue cheese. We have a blue Elizabeth on the tray. It comes from Quebec. What we have here is a Marquesa wine which is a port-style wine from Prince Edward County.

Marivel: The name Port is like Champagne?

Natalie: Right, it’s a trademarked.

Marivel: Okay.

Natalie: It is copyrighted. They can say it’s a port-style wine. It has 19% alcohol as opposed to the 12% that we’ve been tasting here. It’s also going to be sweet and you want that with the pungency of the salt. The strong aromatics in that cheese is going to require a wine like this. Smell is memory. What do you think of  that one?

Marivel: That is just lovely.

Natalie: It is. That’s a dessert wine. It’s almost like pie in a glass.

Marivel: And less intimidating.

Natalie: Help yourself. It’s a mix and match. Try some that you think would be bad combination. Maybe to your palate you actually like them. I think that blue cheese will work just as well with the Baco Noir and maybe we should move up the Pinot Noir with the triple cream cheese.

Marivel: What a fun way to experiment with all the offerings here.

Natalie: I know. Exactly.

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