If the words “wine and cheese” make you think of pretentious gentlemen wearing suits and monocles, you’re not alone. For many people, wine and cheese have long belonged to the realm of country clubs, luxury cruises, or charity fundraisers.
More recently, however, locavores are reclaiming this delicious tradition. Instead of treating wine and cheese like sacred territory, local tastings are becoming a celebration of regional cuisine. You can even swap the suit for flannel and jeans at home.
But where should you begin? While we can’t provide you with every last bit of information — as there have been entire encyclopedias written about wine, cheese, and pairing them — but we can provide you with a good foundation. That way, you can savor every drop and bite of Colorado’s wine and cheese to the utmost.
Lesson One: Wine and Cheese is an Experience
Take your tasting experience slowly.
When people eat normally, they often only notice the high points of food—the strongest flavor, the strongest sensation. Wine and cheese can be much more subtle.
In other words, while completing your tasting, you should try to be aware of:
1) Flavor — Are your wines and cheeses salty, bitter, sweet, or sour?
2) Weight — Do your wines and cheeses rest heavily on your tongue, or make your mouth feel full?
3) Sensation — Is there a drying sensation on your tongue? What about a tingling one, or a feeling of creaminess?
If you’ve ever been to a fancy wine and cheese tasting, you may have noticed people snorting, sloshing, and spitting their wine out. Those people aren’t just being eccentric—they’re actually ensuring that the wine covers all parts of their tongue.
By engaging all of your taste buds, you can detect flavors that are more complex. Flavors like smokiness, grassiness, or even vanilla.
And the spitting? That happens because wine tasters want to clear their palate. Or because they don’t want to get drunk.
If you’re only partaking of one wine, clearing your palate becomes much less important. So no, you don’t have to spit when you’re at home.
Lesson Two: Pairing your Wine and Cheese
While we’ve made a list of great pairings between Rocking W Dairy’s fresh, all-natural cheeses and Mountain View Winery’s excellent offerings already, you can come up with your own pairings by following a few key rules.
Your wine and cheese combination of choice should work together in a way that produces a new, interesting, and flavorful experience. And though you may want to jump straight into professional pairs, coming up with flavor combinations can be fun.
Your wine and cheese pair should do one of the following:
1) Have opposing flavors and / or sensations
Example: Sweet and Sour; Dry and Moist
If you choose to go the opposing flavors route, you’re in for a treat. The wine and cheese work together to mellow one another out, preventing one flavor from becoming too overwhelming. If you’re working with opposing sensations, you could choose to pair a creamy cheese, like Rocking W’s Wine Cheese, with a mouth-drying red wine.
2) Focus on one strong flavor
Example: Sweet and Sweet
If you have a taste you really love, pairing a wine and cheese that enhance one another can be a truly powerful experience. Sweet wines, like Mountain View Winery’s Trail Head, and sweeter cheeses, like Rocking W’s Baby Swiss, can combine to be uniquely delicious.
3) Have balanced flavors and / or sensations
Example: Sweet and Smoky
Get the best of two worlds this way by experiencing two different, but satisfying, flavors or sensations. Try combining Rocking W’s Salsa Jack with a delicate rosé wine to get a bit of spice, a bit of sweet, and a bit of smoke.
Lesson Three: How to Partake like an Oenophile*
If you’ve never encountered this odd term, an oenophile is a wine enthusiast. Now that you’ve selected your wine and cheese, it’s time for the best part.
After pouring your wine into a wine glass, hold the glass by the stem and swirl the wine gently. This action makes the wine more fragrant and powerful.
Then, sniff the wine. This primes your taste sensors, and allows you to experience another dimension of the wine.
After that, take a small sip and let the wine linger on your tongue.
The steps for cheese are similar—first smell, then take a small bite. If you’re trying a Rocking W cheese, you can taste the fresh Colorado countryside which can only be found in our region and only from our less-than-day-old milk.
Cheese and wine experts disagree on whether to eat the cheese first, or drink the wine first. We recommend taking a small sip of wine, then taking a small bite of cheese, then combining the two. Each step will produce a remarkably different experience.
So—are you ready to enjoy a local combination of wine and cheese? Let us know what flavors of wine and cheese you like best!