The Perfect Pair

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People think that because I’m single that I must be “anti-V Day”… Well, that’s not the case. Not even close. I LOVE all of it; the hearts, the gimmicky chocolates, the cards, the pink and red decorations everywhere. It makes me happy, feel brighter, feel hopeful, feel excited! I want to share two of the great loves of my life…WINE and CHEESE! I love when a great wine is paired with a fantastic cheese; Boom…MAGIC HAPPENS! They bring each other to life in a way they never existed before that exact moment… It’s all about the timing of their own journey together and the moment they intersect with one another. They compliment the other, help each other to rise to a height they couldn’t attain on their own, they take each other to the next level. That, my friends, is the definition of LOVE (to me, anyways). A small wedge of rich creamy brie, a slice of crusty bread, and a glass of sparkling wine…AHHHH.

I’ve been a cheese lover for several years but one of the things I really didn’t know much about is how to properly pair cheese with the appropriate wine. I’ve always gone with the notion of eating and drinking what I like and what tastes good to me. While that has worked well for me (most of the time), I wanted to learn the “right way to do it.” To help me with this project I spoke with local cheese store co-owner, Patty Floersheimer, from goat.sheep.cow and Andres Contreras, manager of 39 Rue de Jean. Both of these people are passionate about thier jobs and food is definitely close to their hearts! If you are a fan of amazing cheese then goat.sheep.cow is a store that you need in your life. 39 Rue de Jean is one of the quintessential French cornerstones in town, and a personal favorite of mine! I learned so much from my time talking with both Patty and Andres… and to my surprise both of them said similiar things, that the 2 most important things to understand about pairings are simple:

1) Things that grow together, go together! (This means that food and wine that are grown in the same region, likely go well together.)

2) Taste is personal, and there is no right or wrong way to pair things…it’s all based on what YOU like and what tastes good to YOU! It’s true there are items that tradtionally go well together based on balance, texture and the region they are grown, but most importantly — it boils down to what you like!

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THE BEAUTY OF CHEESE…

Listening to Patty discuss cheese was like watching a beautiful sunset, or listening to a fastastic song…you don’t want the experience to end. She is knowledgeable, approachable, and passionate. Patty says, “a good pairing happens when the things you put together make each other better. There needs to be balance; neither part should overwhelm the other.”

Patty’s tips and suggestions:

  • Don’t work too hard! Enjoy the experience of trying new things.
  • Artisan cheese is something really special, its’s carefully made and is the core of what good food is all about (a lot of individual knowledge, time, and love go into the making of it). There is a story for each one.
  • The life span of a soft cheese is unique and has a life span that can be compared to that of a butterfly. It has a definite time frame that it is maturing as well as a window of when it will peak and is best consumed.

One of Patty’s personal favorites, “I drink Champagne with EVERYTHING. But it is divine with Brillat Savarin (an extraordinary triple creme cow’s milk cheese) and caviar. It’s pretty awesome with salami as well.”

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THE BEAUTY OF WINE…

I’m always going to root for someone who was interested in something and wanated to know more and grew it into a career. I first met Andres when he was in college and began his career as a server. I will never forget him as long as I live because he was one of the best damn servers I have ever met! His curiosity about wine and wanting to be better at making suggestions for his customers started his quest to learn as much as he could about wine. He grew into his position and now oversees the wine selection for 39 Rue de Jean. His suggestions for getting started is simple: “if you are at a restaurant and want to know what wine goes well with a particular dish, ask your server their recommendations. If you are making a cheese plate at home, it’s an exploration of flavor…just see what tastes good together.”

Andres’s tips when pairing wine…

  • Frimer cheeses are a little easier to pair and go really well with slightly sweeter wine.
  • Fattier cheeses (like bries) usually pair REALLY well with bubbles, it helps to cleanse the palate for the next bite.
  • Blue cheeses usually go well with something that has a lot of acidity and sweetness. Acidity is a huge player, it can be the deciding factor to how well a pairing turns out.
  • Sometimes the big reds can really overpower a cheese, unless the cheese is big too!
  • White wines get overlooked a lot but they typically are great and the easiest for pairings.
  • Champagne’s pair really well well with vinaigrettes (really gets a meal going). – Andres’s personal favorite wine: Champagne (specifically: Veuve Clicquot).

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Fun tidbits:

  • 39 Rue de Jean’s chees plates usually consist of a blue, a soft/semi-soft and a firm cheese and change seasonally (and all come from: goat.sheep.cow). I love seeing local partnerships!!!
  • goat.sheep.cow co-owners, Patty and Trudi will be officiating the: Grilled Cheese Challenge at Wine +Food in March and have selected 3 crazy cheeses for the chefs to compete with. During Wine + Food, they will be in the Bottles tent, selling cheese plates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Stop by and meet these two amazing women!
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