A Cheese Guru Reveals 5 Secrets To Hosting A Perfect Cheese And Wine Tasting

Food & Drink

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s been tough to socialize and see friends. As a result, more and more people have started to get creative in the kitchen. From trying new recipes to making their own kind of “happy hour” cocktail, it’s apparent that people are broadening their horizons. 

However, it’s possible to still entertain at your home — whether it’s on a virtual Zoom call or with a couple of close pals. So, why not send out that invite and host a cheese and wine tasting? It’s the perfect plan: sit back, relax, and pretend like you’re sipping on a nice white or red wine in Napa Valley. Or, if that vacation you were looking forward to was canceled, this is a simple “getaway” that can take place in your kitchen and requires no commute. While it might not be what you planned, it’s a great way to forget about what’s currently happening in the world and decompress. 

I tapped Tracey Shepos Cenami, resident cheese guru and chef at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens in Sonoma County, California, who wants to make sure the night goes smoothly and prevent any hiccups from happening. Before you know it, you’ll be a wine and cheese connoisseur, and who knows? Maybe this will become a weekly ritual in your household. In the meantime, here are Cenami’s top five secrets below. 

Don’t Make Pairing Wine With Cheese an Afterthought

“Match the flavors, mouthfeel, and weight of the wine with a like-minded cheese. Think creamier cheeses with full-bodied Chardonnay (like America’s No. 1 selling Chardonnay for 26 years and counting — Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay). Try Chevre goat cheese with a grassy Sauvignon Blanc and more robust, aged cheeses with Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon.” 

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Add In The Right Accompaniment

“It can turn a good pairing to a great pairing by highlighting key flavors like fig jam with a sharp cheddar and Cabernet Sauvignon. Also, try adding in texture like smoked almonds with Pinot Noir. Sometimes it works out that both flavor and texture are accentuated, which is when you know you have a ‘cloud parting’ pairing.” 

There Is One Wine That Always Works

“If I had to select one wine that pairs with most cheese, it would be Riesling. It offers that perfect sweet/salty flavor combination that most of us love.” 

Think Of The Pairing In Three Parts

“Beginning, middle, and finish. For a pairing to work, all three parts will not have conflicts like bitterness or sharpness. A pairing that is pleasing because one item doesn’t conflict with the other is great. However, for a pairing to be spectacular, one or more of the three parts will enhance the pairing in an exciting or unexpected way.” 

Share, Share, Share! 

“When you find a pairing that you love, don’t keep it to yourself. Bring it to a party as your addition to the potluck or as a hostess gift. There are so many amazing wines and cheeses that it’s nearly impossible to know all of the great combinations, so spread the wealth.”

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