Restaurant Report

Free Newsletter - Subscribe Today

Restaurant Management
Restaurant Marketing
Restaurant Service
Restaurant Operations
Restaurant Accounting & Finance
Restaurant PR
Restaurant Design
Chef Talk
Online Store
Buyer's Guide
E-mail Newsletter
Advertising Info
About Us
Our Sister Site:

Follow Restaurant Report on Twitter

Restaurant Report on Facebook

Wine & Cheese
by Phillip Silverstone

Wine barrel On my frequent nibbles around Europe, I am afforded the opportunity of sampling the fare at stellar dining establishments - places who seem to go bonkers at the merest hint of an award from the tire company (Michelin). I really don't understand why a company that's made its name in rubber gets all these chef's aprons in such a twist - but I digress. So Alistar Little in London, Le Grand Vefour in Paris, and the Cipriani in Venice do have the pleasure of my company on occasion.

That said, given the option of super-hyped, mega-chefs verses wine, cheese and pate in the company of someone special… for me, the wine and cheese win hands down every time. It's not that I'm a cheap whatsit, or that I'm lacking in culinary refinement, it's simply because I get enormous pleasure cheese surfing with so many delightfully stinky fragrances hovering over the counter.

When I see cheese, I immediately visualize its wine counterpart. You can just picture the personal ad: "Fresh, no rind, cream cheese type, seeks very light, very young Bardolino for serious relationship. No sour dough or old baguettes please." Wine and cheese parties have always been the easiest soirees to organize. In fact, I quite often save the dozens of wines I'm sent to evaluate and invite friends to sample them with me. Our guests arrive laden with an assortment of small portions of exotic cheeses. If you're thinking about throwing a wine tasting, it's just as much fun researching the cheeses available in your local gourmet store or farmer's market and trying to match the personality of each cheese with its grapey blind date.

Like most aspects of wine and food, no two opinions seem to be alike when it comes to wine and cheese matches. My suggestions are not etched in rind, but they work for me. Drink red wine with hard cheeses and white wine with soft cheeses…but just like the old red wine with fish concept, there are always exceptions.

Here are some recommendations:

Wine For cream cheese and Mascarpone, try a white Vinho Verde from Portugal. When it comes to seriously smelly Gorgonzola, it's generally accepted that the sinfully decadent sweet, luscious French Sauternes is the perfect partner. Wining Brits and Anglophiles will attest to the fact that Stilton and Port are the consummate couple. Mild Cheddar enjoys the company of light reds, while well aged Cheddar fairs well with a not too intense Cabernet Sauvignon. Cheshire is one of my favorites, and believe it or not, a glass of cider (and I'm talking about the alcoholic variety) is a treat with this cheese. I've also enjoyed Cheshire with German Riesling. Riesling works well with Gouda, but then so does Shiraz from Down Under. And if you like goat cheese, try a Sancerre from France.

Cheese has so much in common with wine - its flavor changes with age; it's produced from regions all over the world with names most of us can't pronounce; and we're often intimidated at the cheese counter, especially if the featured cheese is the Vacheron Mont d'or and all you want is some low fat Edam. The bottom line is this (there's always a bottom line in all things related to wine) - if in doubt, let your taste buds be your guide. When they first invented cheese, they didn't have some bloke on a mobile phone calling his counterparts in the wine regions around the world telling them to get busy: "Good morning Franz …Cedric here, how's the weather in Vienna today? Now listen old chap, some bright spark just invented a cheese which she calls Tilsit, so be a good fellow and invent the Gruner Vetliner grape for me. Splendid. Must dash, an American chap is about to invent something called cheese whiz, so I have to alert young Dr. Pepper immediately."


Phillip Silverstone Phillip Silverstone is a syndicated broadcaster and columnist. His book, "Cheers! The World of a Wine-osaur" (Camino Books, $12) is available in bookstores everywhere.

Copyright © 1997-2020 Restaurant Report LLC. All rights reserved.