Who said romantic date nights have to be a dinner at a fancy restaurant? Sometimes you just don’t wanna have all the trouble to dress up. Let alone cooking, right? That’s why setting a table with some cheese and wine can be the perfect recipe for a wonderful night!
For this post I partnered up with Concha y Toro to give you my tips on how to choose the cheese and wine for a memorable (yet easy to prepare) night.
It’s all about contrast
If you choose similar cheeses to put together you can get tired really fast. So the idea is to have a variety of cheese that brings different tastes to the paladar.
There’s no unbreakable rule but I like to follow this “formula”: 1 mild + 1 strong + 1 bold.
Mild: in this category I put the cheeses with lighter flavours. In general they’re white or almost white. Examples: goat cheese, camembert, brie, swiss, etc.
Strong: those cheeses with strong flavours, in general more yellow-ish. Examples: parmesan, yellow cheddar, blue cheese, gorgonzola, etc.
Bold: I always choose a “different” cheese for my plate. In general we look for those with something added, like herbs, wine, beer (yes, and it’s good!) and even espresso.
The logic behind this triad is having the possibility to alternate different flavours so you don’t get tired of it. Also, it’s a good solution if one of the guests doesn’t like one of the cheeses.
My favourite setup
There are so many cheeses out there that you can always try a new one every time. But to be honest I have my go-tos and I’m always navigating around them.
I usually get a brie to prepare a fondue with. It’s very simple to make: I cut the top off the cheese and season it with something I have at home. Sometimes I stick rosemary stems, garlic, gloves, etc. This time I used black pepper grounds. I pour olive oil and bake for 15 minutes, 400ºF. You can do the same with camembert.
Another cheese I love is blue cheese, I always buy one. Even parmesan being in the same category I include the blue – strong – I generally have both on my plate.
The bold one is always different! I love to discover new cheeses, especially the flavoured ones. This time I chose one with espresso crust.
The perfect wine
I am not an expert on wine pairings, but as a wine enthusiast I can say I have learned a lot about it. Actually, you just need to remember some simple rules. And if you want to have to remember only one, remember this: wine and food shouldn’t fight each other. Don’t pair a light wine with strong flavoured food or vice-versa.
When we talk about cheese, of course there are all kinds of possible flavours, therefore there are a lot of wine options.
Many people like to pair cheese with white wine, which is a good choice, but if you, like me, love red wines, you don’t need to give up on them. The only thing to have in mind is to get a lighter red wine.
For this plate I opted for the Casillero del Diablo Reversa Merlot. Merlot is a versatile grape that can result in bold and strong wine, as well as fresh and fruity ones. This was a good choice because it’s smooth with plummy and herbs flavours. Translation: perfect with parmesan, blue cheese and gruyere!
If you’re asking what you should do if you have to pair different cheeses with one wine I got you covered: choose a wine that pairs with one or two of the cheeses and always alternate them in a way you consume them together and use the lighter taste one to clean your palate. In this case I had the parmesan and blue cheese to eat with the wine and the brie clean my palate.
And let’s be honest: after some bites and sips, the order doesn’t matter anymore!
My last tip
My last advice is the same advice I always give for any cuisine or type of food: choose based on what makes you happy. At the end of the day (or the night in this case) the colour of the wine or the cheese doesn’t matter, but the experience you’ll get from them.