If you've ever gotten into a conversation with someone on K&L's staff about cheese, you'd know we're more than a little nuts about it. Its complexity and diversity parallels wine, and its ability to showcase the place where its from makes it a natural interest for those of us passionate about terroir. That's why we decided to invite Paige Handler, the Cheese Handler, over to K&L Hollywood one afternoon to explore cheese and wine's natural affinity for one another, and to try our hand at coming up with some of our own pairings.
There are a couple of ways to attack pairing cheese and wine, according to Paige. The simplest way is to try and find wines that come from the same region as the cheese. A simple example would be serving Idiazabal, a lightly smoked sheep's milk cheese from the Basque region of Spain, with a Txakolina, also from the Basque region of Spain. You can also try matching characteristics - an herbaceous goat cheese would match an herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc nicely - or go for contrasting notes, such as a fatty, rich, tangy blue cheese with something sweet and high in acidity like Sauternes. We tried a total of four cheeses the day we filmed this, all sourced from Joan's on Third in Los Angeles, and paired them with wines off the shelf at K&L Hollywood, with the help of Steve Greer. Here's a sampling...
The wine Steve and Paige chose for the Monte Enebro, a soft, surface-ripened cheese from Avila, Spain was the 2009 Pascal Janvier "Cuvee Silex" ($21.99), a Chenin Blanc from Jasnieres, located on the Loir tributary of the Loire River. The melon and floral aromas, high acidity and clean finish of the wine were a great counterpoint the the Monte Enebro's spicy, lemon cream richness. A stellar paring.
Still not sure about setting up your own pairings or just want to leave it in the hands of a pro? Paige curates educational cheese parties and private events and can hand-select wines from K&L to go with the cheeses she chooses just for you. Perfect for holiday parties, bridal showers or just because you like cheese. Visit the Cheese Handler website to learn more.