Although people often speak of wine and cheese as ideal partners, they are actually not that easy to pair. Weâ??re not talking the tacky â??Cheese and Wineâ? parties of your varsity days here, but the art of pairing cheese with wine that will enhance, rather than mask, the true flavour of the cheese.
According to Chris Bryant of Fairview wine estate in Paarl, which is well known for its cheeses too, the problem is that the rich and smooth texture of most artisanal cheeses â?? such as those produced at Fairview â?? tend to coat the mouth and actually dull your tasting ability. â??When we do tasting at the farm we always recommend starting with the wines and moving over to the cheeses afterwards for this reason. However, when entertaining or incorporating cheese into a meal, there are a few basic guidelines which can help,â? he says.
â??When putting together a cheeseboard it is always tempting to have a range of different cheeses, with the idea of catering to everyoneâ??s tastes. However, unless you have a number of different wines to pair you may actually end up losing some of the character of certain cheeses.
Match body of wine with that of cheese
â??Like any food pairing it is important to match the body of the wines with the body and flavour of the cheeses. The idea of pairing is that you are trying to find something that works well for you â?? so experiment, try new wines and donâ??t be bothered by what others think of your combinations.â? He goes on to advise that you always serve your cheeses at room temperature â?? take them out of the fridge at least half an hour before serving.
Bryant suggests some of Fairview better known cheeses, and wines with which to pair:
Fairview Brie or Camembert: These classic white mould cheeses are popular due to their subtle savoury flavour and slight mushroom character. The white mould rind is completely edible and is an important aspect of the overall flavour of the cheese. The cheeses should be soft, but not too runny.
Wines: Fresh fruity white wines such as Unwooded Chenin Blanc or perhaps a Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon will not over power the subtle flavours of the cheese. The acidity in the wines will help to â??cut throughâ?? the creaminess of the cheeses and should help to bring out their fruiter flavours.
Fairview Roydon Camembert: Fairview world beating camembert is produced in the traditional method using Jersey milk, but includes a generous splash of goatsâ?? milk to add flavour and complexity. Classic savoury camembert flavours but with more depth and a richer â??mouthfeelâ?. This is considered to be Fairviewâ??s flagship cheese.
Wines: Fuller flavoured white wine such as Fairview Viognier (dry white) is a perfect pairing. The Viognier has a lovely balance of fruit, fragrance and complexity that balances well with the Roydon. Otherwise a Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc, possibly with a little bit of oaking.
Fairview Chevin: This traditional recipe goatsâ?? milk cream cheese includes 30% Jersey milk. It has crisp fresh flavours with a gentle peppery character which mingles with the flavours. This is a lovely soft and smooth cheese, available with a range of toppings.
Wine: Sauvignon Blanc and goatsâ?? milk cheese is a classic combination. Fairview or Spice Route Sauvignon Blanc are both great choices.
Fairview Yehudit: This unique cheese was developed by Fairviewâ??s cheesemakers and is a firm favourite. It combines the soft creamy texture of a white mould cheese with a piquant, rich flavour to create a decadent and indulgent full flavoured cheese. Seductive indeed.
Wine: Fairview Viognier pairs perfectly
Fairview Boland Blue: Another unique Fairview product, Boland Blue is a cheddar style cheese with a blue vein. It shows a tangy, nutty character and is an excellent melting cheese.
Wine: A fruitier style red wine, along the lines of a Pinotage or Shiraz pairs well. Alternatively a sweeter wine or port would also not be amiss.
Fairview Blue Rock: A classic piquant blue mould cheese. A firm texture, with lovely fruit flavours of red apples combining with the tangy piquant character of a traditional blue mould cheese. Perfect on its own or crumbled over a cob salad and great in a creamy sauce.
Wines: Fairview Sweet Red is a great partner, but a bold red wine will go well. Look at a juicy Cabernet Sauvignon or a fruit Pinotage.