Cooking Tips | 29 July 2015Getting to Know Cheese Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Wine and cheese are a classic combination. But in order to make the pairing successful, you first have to understand each component separately. Tasting Wine and Cheese gives you all the information you need to understand the flavor, texture and smell of cheeses, which will help you to make the best pairings possible. Cheeses can have a wide range of textures. In many ways, you taste and evaluate cheese the same way you do wine. You pay attention to the look, smell, and flavors of the cheese. When thinking about cheese, however, a different set of adjectives is usually used (I don’t know whether I’d ever want to come across a wine I found to be “pleasantly moldy”). Texture is also an important consideration because there is such a broad variety. The Look In a slice of Bûcheron, it’s easy to see the differences from the rind to the center. Cheese can be quite beautiful to look it. From the pure, bright white of fresh goat cheese to the mottled and complex interior of blue cheese, every cheese tells a story through its appearance. Take a moment to look closely at the cheese. Examine the colors of both the exterior (the rind) and the interior (the paste). Are the colors consistent and even over the entire surface, or do some areas have different coloration than others? Look at the texture of the rind—are there any bumps or cracks? Is the rind even over the whole wheel, or is it drier in some places? After cutting a slice, compare the center of the wedge to the cheese just underneath the rind. Because cheese develops from the outside in, you will most likely see a difference. The Smell Blue cheese aromas are usually easier to detect than those of other cheeses. Wine comes from fruit, and cheese comes from milk. That difference alone guarantees a different set of adjectives will come into play, right? What may be surprising, however, are the similarities in aroma that you may discover. It’s not unusual for both to display aromas that are lactic, or earthy, or grassy. They can have different expressions of these smells, but they may be closer than you’d expect. When smelling a piece of cheese, get a good whiff. With some cheeses, that won’t be a problem whatsoever (certain washed-rind and blue cheeses will be noticeable the moment they are brought into the room). Whether it means bringing the cheese right up to your nose, or maintaining a respectable distance, take note of what you smell. Where wines can smell like cherries, lemons, or vanilla, cheeses can smell animally, or yeasty, or moldy (a great trait in some cheeses, not so much in wines). Does the cheese smell grassy, or woodsy? Can you smell the animal’s raw milk? For example, many sheep milk cheeses retain the farmy, animal smell of the ewe. The aroma may be mild or it may be prominent, but it’s pretty much always there. Does the cheese smell pleasant or off-putting? Taking note of these kinds of characteristics adds another layer of information for you to consider as you get to know the cheese and, ultimately, form an opinion. The Feel The texture of cheese plays an important part in your evaluation of it. In wines, texture is important, but usually has less of an impact on your impression. Wines tend to have similar textures based on their type—dessert wines are typically thicker and more viscous than other wines, for example, but most dessert wines will give you the same general impression. With cheeses, those textural variations can be greater and more intense, even within the same style of cheese. Without feeling too self-conscious, take a small crumb of the cheese you’re considering and rub it between your fingers. Notice how easily (or not) it smears. A cheese with lots of moisture, such as Brie, will smear quite easily, whereas a drier, firmer cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano will simply crumble into smaller pieces. Take a small bite, and let it sit on your tongue for a moment. Notice how firm or soft the cheese feels. As it warms, it will soften a little more. Now slowly chew it, paying attention to the physical impression the cheese makes. Is it soft and pliable, or is it a hard cheese that becomes a little granular as you chew? The Flavor Now we come to the main attraction. As with wine, people usually have a piece of cheese to eat it, not simply to contemplate it! Soon enough, you’ll be eating the cheese for the sheer pleasure of it, but first spend a minute appreciating the tastes and flavors of cheese. When tasting cheese for the first time, less is more. Take a small bite—the smaller amount will be easier to manipulate in the mouth. Let it rest in your mouth for ten seconds or so. That is enough time for the cheese to warm a bit and release more information, making it easier to sense. What do you taste? Maybe the saltiness is prominent, or maybe the cheese has a peppery bite. Is it bitter? Metallic? Sweet? Cheese can display an amazing range of tastes and flavors. The more attention you pay, the more the cheese will tell you. Buy from an Online Retailer In North America: In The UK: Broaden your palate and enhance your appreciation for gourmet flavor combinations with Tasting Wine and Cheese. Is there anything better than a great wine and cheese pairing? You might enjoy a robust cabernet with the sharp, aged cheddar, or perhaps a crisp Sancerre with a tangy, creamy chevre. Based on the curriculum Adam Centamore developed teaching at Formaggio Kitchen and the Boston Wine School,Tasting Wine and Cheese guides you through the world of flavor pairing with an emphasis on understanding and developing your own palate. Maitre d ‘Fromage Adam Centamore teaches you how to first taste wines and cheeses separately, allowing you to understand the complex profiles of reds, whites, aged, and fresh. But wading through these waters is only half the battle.Tasting Wine and Cheese takes you on a journey through pairings of cheeses with white, red, sparkling, and dessert wines. There is even a section to help you pair condiments with your wine and cheese. Whether you’re looking to broaden your appreciation for gourmet combinations or simply looking for a menu to host a party, you’ll find everything that you need in this comprehensive guide. “Adam Centamore is a master at making the perfect wine and cheese match. The interactive pairing workshop he teaches is one of our most popular Wine School classes ever.” – Jonathan Alsop, founder & executive director of the Boston Wine School and author of Wine Lover’s Devotional: 365 Days of Knowledge, Advice and Lore for the Ardent Aficionado “Wine and cheese pairings decoded! In Tasting Wine and Cheese, Adam employs the same approach in this book as he does his classes – comprehensive, fun and filled with practical information for anyone interested in the enjoyment of food. The result is a pairing of its own as both a solid primer and a worthwhile reference for your future wine and cheese pairing adventures.” – Tim Bucciarelli – Manager, Formaggio Kitchen Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.