Winter Wine and Cheese Pairings -- 5 Favorite Winemakers’ Suggestions
With Winemakers’ Quotes and Comments
I asked five of my favorite winemakers to suggest their favorite wine and cheese pairing. From Napa Valley to Texas to Penedes, Spain, here are some examples of excellent wine and terrific cheese combinations. I hope these winemaker suggestions will “seed” your plan to host a wine and cheese pairing at your next gathering or holiday event.
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Celia Welch, Consulting Winemaker, Schramsberg and Keever Vineyards (also Corra and Scarecrow Wines - among others.)
Celia Welch is one of the most celebrated winemakers in America. See a previous article: “The Highest Priced Wine at Napa Auction – Crafted by Celia Welch.” Her 2015 Scarecrow received the highest wine rating onVivino for all of 2019.
“Tricia, I absolutely LOVE cheese…pretty much any type from anywhere…but do try to limit my noshing on high-calorie foods during the holiday season. A small bite of a boldly flavored cheese can be a great way to add flavor excitement to an appetizer for a holiday party. I place a bit of Point Reyes blue cheese on an endive leaf, alongside a bit of candied pecan (or local walnuts) and dried cranberry. It’s beautiful, delicious, and easy to serve to guests. And while the Schramsberg Blanc de blancs may be the obvious choice alongside, I’d also suggest the Keever Sauvignon Blanc, which has the both the mid-palate body and the crisp finish to pair beautifully with this flavor combination.”
– Celia Welch, Winemaker
Richie Allen, Rombauer Vineyards, Napa Valley: Sauvignon Blanc and La Tur Italian Cheese
One of Napa Valley’s most celebrated wineries, Rombauer Vineyards, has a site dedicated to Wine and cheese: An Introduction to Wine and Cheese Pairing. Richie Allen is Vice President of Viticulture and Winemaking; I interviewed him in 2021--see “Rombauer Vineyards: Chardonnay Giant, But Don’t Forget the Reds.” Richie has a wonderful wine and cheese pairing to recommend.
“Hi Tricia, my go-to cheese at the moment is La Tur from Italy; it’s a soft-ripened cheese made from a blend of sheep, cow, and goat’s milk. That and a Rombauer Sauvignon Blanc is a match made in heaven. The creamy softness of the cheese and the bright acidity of the wine play off so well. Add some honey-comb to the cracker with the cheese and you will see some very different flavors in the wine come out too.” – Richie Allen, VP of Winemaking and Viticulture
Dr. Bob Young, MD, Co-Founder Bending Branch Winery, Comfort, Texas
Dr. Bob Young, MD, and his winery, Bending Branch, Comfort, Texas, has been the subject of several of my articles on Texas wines and “healthy wines” as his wines have been measured as high in antioxidants. See Wine Wanderings newsletter: “Have a Healthy Wine: Bending Branch Winery, Comfort, Texas: An Interview with Dr. Bob Young, MD.”
Texas Tannat and Manchego cheese
“Tricia, the tannins from the Tannat complement the rich structure of the Manchego cheese. Both the wine and cheese have complex profiles that can stand up to each other. In the winter weather, choosing a bold wine like Tannat feels very warming. It’s a winning selection for a dinner party, and Tannat stands up to a hearty main course.” – Dr. Bob Young, MD, Co-Founder
Familia Torres Red Blend and Aged Cheddar
I have profiled this international wine family in several newsletters, including “Familia Torres: Wine Dynasty- Interview with Miguel Torres, GM. Live from Torres Headquarters.” This hundred and fifty-year wine family and corporation was chosen this year by Drinks International, “The World’s Most Admired Wine Brand.”
Familia Torres Purgatori Cataluña Red Wine and 15 Year Wisconsin Aged Cheddar Cheese
“We would love to recommend Purgatori by Familia Torres, as it is a red wine from Costers del Segre, a DO from Cataluña, a wine which is fruit driven with very soft and silky tannins. This would match really well with a 15yrs aged cheddar from the Cheese Brother´s from Wisconsin. The idea behind this match is to balance the richness of the cheese with the fresh acidity and lots of red fruit brought by the Cariñena and Garnacha.
Chimney Rock Stags Leap, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Piave, Cow’s Milk Cheese
Elizabeth Vianna has perennially been one of my favorite winemakers, and the Chimney Rock Winery in Stags Leap, Napa Valley, is a fantastic place to sample the best of Napa. See newsletter: “Chimney Rock Winery: Stags Leap – Napa Valley.”
“Tricia, my favorite cheese pairing for any of our Stags Leap District Cabernets is a beautiful piece of Piave, a delicious nutty cow’s milk cheese from Piave. I love it at any holiday occasion as a savory option to dessert! Cheers!
– Elizabeth Vianna, Winemaker/General Manager
2019 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, North Coast, California, $80
Wine Spectator, 92 Points
2021 Keever Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, $40
Celia Welch, Winemaker, only 230 cases produced.
2021 Rombauer Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast, California, $30
Wine Spectator, 90 Points
2022 San Francisco Chronicle, Double Gold award
2017 Torres Purgatori, Costers del Segre, Penedes, Spain, $42-$47
2016 vintage had 95 Points, Decanter Magazine
A deep red wine made as a Mediterranean Rhone-style blend- dark cherry red color with intense violet aromas and elegant tannins.
2018 Chimney Rock Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap AVA, Napa Valley, $115
Decanter Magazine, 90 Points – A Blend of 75 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and 1% each Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Floral, dusty, and herbal on the nose.
Produced on a family farm since 2000, this is Californian’s classic style blue cheese: Rindless, all-natural and gluten-free.
Dense and creamy blend of cow, sheep, and goat’s milk. The rind is soft, wrinkled, thin, and delicate.
1 Year Manchego, D.O., $26/lb.
Perhaps Spain’s most famous cheese, Manchego is a D.O. (Denominación de Origen) protected cheese, meaning the traditional recipe must use 100% Manchego sheep milk.
Complex and sharp, a decade and a half of aging.
Piave Vecchio, DOP $25/lb.
Often likened to the king of Italian cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Piave is a deliciously nutty, pasteurized cow’s milk cheese from the Veneto in northern Italy.
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