Cheese & Wine Pairing Part I: Pink Party!!!
For the first of a series I'm doing on wine and cheese pairing here on "It's Not You, it's Brie," we're going pink.
The hue is partially inspired by a class I just taught on rosé and summer cheeses at the Cheese School of San Francisco and otherwise inspired by a general love of wines the color of salmon, Barbie logos, watermelon, nectarines and strawberry ice cream.
But more importantly.... I'd like to write about pink wines now because rosés are still in the shops and I want you to drink them! The longer we drink rosés past the stereotypical spring-summer rosé season, the longer importers will keep boating them over and the longer domestic winemakers will sell them past August. Make a t-shirt, and let this be your cause.
Rosés are by far some of the easiest wines to pair with cheese, for 3 main reasons.
1. A good rosé has great acidity.
Cheese, packed with rich dairy fat, craves acidity. If you were going to try to take acidity away from cheese, it would have to enter a 12-step program to help it through the process. Why? Because fats like a little brightening. Ever been underwhelmed by a cream sauce? Chances are it was because the cook wasn't minding the ratio of cream or fat to acid. Cream on its own can be flabby, dull. But add a squeeze of lemon or vinegar and you'll and another dimension to the richness. The same goes for a dish with rich coconut milk- unless you add an acid like lime juice, the coconut has the responsibility of carrying the dish all on its sweetness and fat alone. That's a lot on its creamy shoulders. Acidity = brightness. It helps show off cheese's best features.
2. They have red fruit, but not too much red fruit.
Even the most seductive berry fruit of red wine can clash with some cheeses- especially their rinds. Take a Bordeaux or Cali Cab, for example, and pair it with a bloomy-rinded cheese like Constant Bliss or Fougerous. As soon as you get a slice of that rind in your mouth and make a lovely paste with it and the Cab, you're going to be looking for a spit bucket. Like brown, braided belts and black snake-skin shoes, red fruit and bloomy rinds don't mix. When young, a white rind and a dark red might pass as a pairing, but as the cheese and its rind get older and stronger, the pairing is going to be as unexplainably gauche as Donald and Melanie Trump. Sure a rosé can have red fruit flavors, like strawberry, but normally peach, watermelon, apricot or other pink or stonefruity flavors mellow the redness.
3. Low tannins
Tannins can also conflict with edible cheese rinds. Because rosés are made either by quick press, saignée method, or by adding a touch of red to white, the juice doesn't have enough contact with the skin or seeds (where the tannins are located) to make a textural impact. Plus, pinks don't often see a barrel (wood is another way to impart tannins to a wine) and stainless steel fermentation keeps the rosé fresh and lively instead of tannic or oaky.
To get an idea of how to pair rosés to cheeses, I've included a few pairings that charmed the students of the aforemetioned class I taught. See what you think. Feel free to make substitutions and improvise away.
Brillat Savarin & Mt Tam with a Lini Sparkling Lambrusco rosé
Andante Tomme Dolce with a light Provencal style pink.
Comté- with the funky, earthy Clos Saron "Tickled Pink" Syrah rosé.
Pleasant Ridge Reserve with Ricard Petiot Gamay/Cab Franc blend (as pictured in post photo)
What are your favorite rosé and cheese pairings?