(StatePoint) Summer is a time for picnics, festive garden gatherings and poolside parties. For hot days and warm evening entertaining, keep things cool by creating a delicious, yet easy-to-prepare spread of wines, cheeses,Â fresh fruits and nuts.
Choosing cheeses to go with your favorite wines does not need to be difficult. Start by thinking of each component of the wine and cheese as a complementary or contrasting flavor, considering the texture, sweetness and flavor intensity of each. Experiment by tasting each on its own to get a sense of its characteristics. Then, see how they taste when combined. You can do this on your own while planning your event or make it a fun activity with your guests.
As part of their hospitality program, the culinary team at St. Francis Winery & VineyardsÂ in Sonoma County, CA looks to local cheese producers for interesting choices to pair with their certified sustainable wines.Â To help hosts recreate the winery experience at home, here are a few pairing tips for preparing summer spreads that feature some of the best wines and cheeses of Sonoma County:
Pair wines and cheeses of equal flavor intensity. Bold wines can overwhelm some cheeses. One pairing example of balanced flavor intensity is Laura Chenel Goat Brie paired with St. Francis Sonoma County Chardonnay 2016 (SRP $16.99). The goat brie is delicious for summer, with a light creamy quality that carries notes of grass and nutsÂ and has a clean lemony finish. The Chardonnay has delicate aromas and flavors of green apple, juicy pear and melon. The combination is a bright, crisp wine that nicely matches the cheeseâ€™s flavors and weight.
Pair bold reds with aged cheeses. Aged cheeses are richer in flavor. This aspect of their character counteracts the tannins of a bold red wine, making for a delicious pairing. Consider serving Vella Dry Monterey Jack, an aged cheese similar to Parmigiano with a sweet flavor reminiscent of butterscotch, with Sonoma Valley Merlot 2015 (SRP $20.99). The expressive Merlot, with aromas and flavors of red cherry, plum, espresso bean and savory spices, complements the cheese beautifully. The aged Dry Monterey Jack cheese highlights the smooth texture of the Merlot wine.
Add an array of fresh fruits to your spread. After assembling the cheese board, add color and texture with fresh fruits of the summer season. Strawberries, cherries, grapes, raspberries and figs are festive choices. For an added cool factor, put frozen green grapes in your glass of Chardonnay to keep it chilled without diluting the flavor.
With these pairing tips, you are sure to have an entertaining and delicious cheese and wine filled gathering.
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