Zinfandel is the descendant of Italy’s Primitivo grape and one of American’s most widely planted red grape varieties. This grape is capable of producing top quality red wines which can ravel Cabernet Sauvignon. It offers an array of flavors including black and red fruit, spice, pepper, tar, and licorice. There are three distinct styles of Zinfandel: 1) fresh and fruity, easy drinking with light tannins 2) medium-bodied with fuller flavor with noticeable spiciness and ripe tannins and 3) a big, concentrated and powerful style with intense fruit and unbelievable richness.
Zinfandels are best served at room temperature with beef, lamb, burgers, or ribs.
Wines made with Pinot Noir are known for their elegance and refinement. They usually offer an exotic bouquet along with a velvety, mouth feeling texture. Pinot Noir has flavors of ripe fruit, cherry, chocolate, toast, and spices. Most famous in the Burgundy region of France, where it is the only grape permitted to be used in the famous red wines of Cote d’Or. Generally Pinot Noirs are low in tannins and pair with salmon, turkey, pork, and cheese. Pinot Noir sales increased greatly when the movie Sideways was released several years ago.
Currently Merlot is the world’s most popular red wine. It was originally used as a blending grape in Bordeaux to soften the Cabernet Sauvignon. Because of its fresh, ripe fruit flavors, Merlot has captured the attention of the everyday wine consumer. Merlot offers red fruit components such as cherry, plum, and currants with hints of cedar prominent with oak aging. Merlot is capable of producing wines which are full-bodied and tannic, but most wines focus on a friendly, soft, and fruity style. Merlot should be served at room temperature with lamb, duck, veal, and cheese.
First of all, wine and cheese pairings possibilities are endless, so to simplify I will attempt to provide a general overview.
To start, let’s divide cheese into four major categories:
- Bloomy – Creamy, decadent cheeses, with a soft rind
- Hard – Stiff cheeses, which are often sharp and/or salty and can be aged
- Blue – Pungent, often salty cheeses, with a blue tinge
- Fresh – Soft, often spreadable cheeses that can be tangy or mild and usually are not aged
Which wines go with each category of cheese?
- Camembert Champange
- Brie Chardonnay
- Robiola Sparkling Wine
- Taleggio Pinot Blanc
- Gouda Merlot
- Cheddar Cabernet Sauvignon
- Parmesan Chianti
- Double Gloucester Zinfandel
- Pecorino Valpolicella
- Gruyere Sauvignon Blanc
- Fontina Bardolino
- Gorgonzola Port
- Stilton Sauternes
- Blue Riesling
- Combozola Eiswein
- Ricotta Pinot Grigio
- Mozzarella Sauvignon Blanc
- Goat Chenin Blanc
- Feta Beaujolais
- Burrata Tocai Friulano
Why not experiment and try different cheeses with different wines and see what you like the best!
Pinot Grigio tends to me a crisp, light wine and can very slightly depending on the source. It is normally medium-bodied with a rich finish. Serve with seafood, poultry, pates, and pork.
Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used to make white wine. It originated in the Burgundy wine region of Eastern France …… but is now grown wherever wine is produced. The grape produces wines that are lean, crisp, and usually with high acidity and with characteristics of honey and tropical fruit. The region where the grape is grown will effect the characteristics of individual wines. Wines are usually medium to light bodied. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation tend to have softer acidity and fruit flavors with a buttery taste. Chardonnay wines can be aged either in oak or stainless steel.
The Chardonnay grape is also used in making sparkling wines, including Champagne. This grape continues to be one of the widely planted grape varieties.
*Malolactic fermentation, also know as MLF, is the process in winemaking in which tart-tasting malic acid, which is naturally found in grape must, is converted to softer tasting lactic acid.