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A perfect wine for cheese. A perfect cheese for wine
While I can usually find a great match for an individual cheese or for a careful selection it’s always a struggle to find a wine - particularly a red - that will take on all-comers. But I was reminded this weekend just how good a candidate mature Zinfandel is for this job. We found a bin end of Ridge’s Geyserville 2000 on the wine list of one of our favourite local restaurants at such a good price that we couldn’t resist it.
With its velvety-soft blackberry fruit it went pretty well with everything we had ordered (a selection of small plates including some squid in red wine sauce with orange gremolata which added ammunition to my orange and red wine theory) but was outstandingly good with the cheese - a wedge of Fougerus, an unpasteurized Brie-style cheese from the Seine-et-Marne region of Northern France, a wedge of 10 month old Manchego and a wedge of Cashel Blue from Ireland. The trickiest pairing was the Fougerus but one of the accompaniments on the plate, a pickled fig, destined I think to offset the Cashel Blue really helped. (There was also some membrillo (quince paste), the classic accompaniment for Manchego and a little salad of radicchio and walnuts)
The whole experience really underlined how much better mature reds are than young tannic ones with cheese and how much a careful selection of accompaniments helps. Incidentally Geyserville is not pure Zin but also contains Carignan, Petite Sirah and Mataro (Mourvèdre) - the latter particularly interesting as I think Bandol is another excellent match with cheese.
My other recent discovery was an obscure semi-hard Gouda-style sheeps cheese I found in our local health food shop. It’s made by a Dutch-born couple in Aberdeenshire who call themselves Mains of Shevado. It’s very dry, almost crystalline, but quite mellow without the aggressive ‘bite’ that can cause such problems with red wine. It was perfect with an accompanying Malbec but would clearly have rubbed along easily with other medium to full-bodied reds. Authentic mature goudas and mature parmesan will do a similar job.
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