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Pairing Wine with Cheese Starring Italy


Vino e Formaggio Italiano "Wine and Cheese - Italian"

What is Cheese Anyway? Cheese is a rather general term describing curdled milk (or cream). To curdle milk means to separate the whey from the curds. Milk proteins (casein) are ostensibly broken in half. One half precipitates out of the milk, becoming a solid (the curds). The other half remains liquid (the whey), though it ceases to be white. The distinction between true cheese and things like cream cheese, sour cream, mascarpone, creme fraiche, etc. is the way in which the milk is curdled. Milk can be curdled either by acid and/or by rennet. To be considered a true cheese (e.g. cheddar, swiss, brie, et. al.), acid AND rennet coagulation (i.e. curdling) is required. First, a culture is added to the milk (or is already present in the milk in the case of some raw milk cheeses). This culture "ferments" the milk, slowly lowering the pH (raising the acidity) of the milk. Then, rennet is added - this is an enzyme derived from the fourth stomach chamber of an unweaned ruminant animal (e.g. a calf, kid, or lamb). This enzyme literally breaks apart the proteins in the milk, an action facilitated by the presence of acid (and heat), and separates the milk into curds and whey. The whey is poured off (either to make ricotta, or to feed to hogs). The curds are then cut, releasing more whey, drained, and molded (this is a gross simplification - most of the textural variations in cheese stem from this process). At this point, the curds have become cheese. False cheeses like creme fraiche, mascarpone, sour cream, etc. are curdled very lightly and without the use of rennet. The acid required can be produced by natural or added bacteria, vinegar, lemon juice, etc. The variations in the acidcurdled "cheeses" come from the extent of acidification, coagulation, variations in fat content, types of cultures, etc. For example, creme fraiche is cream (thus, high in fat) that is lightly coagulated (lower acidity). Sour cream is cream that is more heavily coagulated. This slight difference in acidity and cultures will cause sour cream to fully curdle (i.e. turn chunky) when boiled, whereas creme fraiche will not.


Pairing Wine & Cheese Here are a few basic guidelines: Salty with Sweet The salty flavor of blue cheeses, and even some washed rind cheeses, balances out the sweetness of dessert wines, and vice versa. Try Stilton with Port or Epoisses with Sauternes. Regional Try pairing cheese and wine produced in the same region. Manchego or Zamarano with Albariùo wine, and Beecher's Flagship Reserve Cheddar with a Washington state Syrah are examples of regional pairings that work well. Hard with Tannic Harder types of cheese such as cheddar or Parmesan can handle more tannic wines. Although certain tannicy wines pair well with creamier cheeses such as Brie. Acidity with Acidity Repeat after me: Goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc. You will not be disappointed. Why? The acidity in goat cheese gives it a tangy zip that matches perfectly with the crisp acidity of Sauvignon Blancs. Try French Selles-sur-Cher with Sancerre. Rich and Creamy with Bubbles If the only reason for this pairing is complete decadence, so be it. Champagne or any sparkling wine paired with a rich, creamy cheese is one of life's great pleasures. Try it with the Cowgirl Creamery's Mt. Tam or a wedge of rich, dense Gruyere. The pairing of cheese and wine is undoubtedly one of life’s greatest pleasures. Yet, cheese can enhance or ruin a good wine in a heartbeat, and vice versa.


Today, we will focus on REGIONAL with Italy! Italian cheeses are made mainly from cows milk, but a few are also made from sheep milk, goats milk and the famous mozzarella cheese is made from buffalo milk. The most famous cheeses are produced and marketed under the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) system which defines the area where the cheese is produced and the methods of production used. The list below shows how most Italian regions have several cheeses. A few are produced in two or more adjoining regions, for example Caciocavallo Silano is produced in several southern Italian regions.

Aosta Valley Fontina, Valle d’Aosta Marche Casciotta d'Urbino, Formaggio di Fossa Fromadzo di Sogliano Basilicata Caciocavallo Silano, PeMolise Caciocavallo Silano, corino di Filiano Piedmont Bra, Castelmagno, Gorgonzola, Grana Calabria Caciocavallo Silano Padano, Murazzano, Raschera, Robiola di Campamia Mozzarella di Bufala CamRoccaverano, Taleggio , Toma Piemontese pana, Caciocavallo Silano, ProvoPuglia Caciocavallo Silano, Canestrato Pugliese lone del Monaco Sardinia Fiore Sardo, Pecorino Emilia-Romagna Formaggio di Fossa Romano,Pecorino Sardo di Sogliano, Grana Padano, ParSicily Pecorino Siciliano, Piacentinu Ennese , Ramigiano-Reggiano, Provolone Valgusano, Vastedda della valle del BelÏce padana Trentino-Alto Aldige Asiago, Grana Padano, Friuli-Venezia Giulia Montasio Provolone Valpadana, Spressa delle GiudiLazio Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, carie, Stelvio or Stilfser Pecorino Romano, Ricotta RoTuscany Pecorino Romano, Pecorino Toscano mana Veneto Asiago, Casatella Trevigiana, Grana Padano, Lombardy Bitto, Formaggella del Lu- Monte Veronese, Piave, Provolone Valpadana, inese, Formai de Mut from Alta Taleggio Valle Brembana, Gorgonzola, Grana Padano, ParmigianoReggiano, Provolone Valpadana, Quartirolo Lombardo, Taleggio, Valtellina Casera


TODAY’S PAIRINGS Emotivo Prosecco paired with Asiago Cheese This sparkling wine is aromatic and fresh with lemon pear and apple flavors. Lively and crisp on the palate with a dry and refreshing finish. Asiago (ah-zee-AH-goh) is a cow's milk cheese first made in the northern Veneto region of Italy. It’s crafted in two flavor and texture profiles. One is Pressato, the fresh Asiago. The other is the big flavored aged Asiago, Asiago d'Allevo. The fresher version will be a light straw color; with a semi-soft texture plus it will taste mild and a bit sweet. As this cheese ages, it becomes a darker color and delivers a sharper and nuttier sensation. The texture also becomes harder so you can grate it on or in your favorite dish. Asiago is a pleasing substitute for Parmesan.

Maretima Pinot Grigio paired with Santa Teresa The bouquet has scents of sage, lemon verbena, green apple with hints of tropical fruit (banana, and pineapple). The palate is savory, fresh, medium-bodied with a pleasant acidity. Ideal for aperitifs, pairs well also with vegetables soups, fish and goat cheese. Santa Theresa is a young, mild Pecorino Sardo Dolce cheese from Italy that s treasured for its delicate flavor. It s only aged 30-40 days, so you can taste the gentle hints of green grasses and herbs that the sheep pastured on, along with lemony aromas and subtle hints of thyme. Smooth, creamy texture and sweet flavor make this a great choice for antipasto, baked pasta dishes and on salads. Milk: Sheep. Origin: Italy.

Emotivo Rosso paired with Taleggio Deep ruby red with violet highlights. The bouquet is slightly spicy and fruity with hints of tobacco, blackberries, blueberries and mulberries. Ripe fruity flavors of cherries and plums with rounded tannins. Taleggio is produced from curds of cow milk, pasteurized or not, which are cut into small pieces and then transferred to 8 inch square molds. They are then washed with brine and transferred to aging rooms, or in the case of the most traditional producers, caves where air from the original ripening caves circulates. The brining process continues weekly during the 35-40 day aging process and the beneficial mold that develops is continually scraped and pressed back into the cheese causing it to develop an edible thin, pink-gold colored rind with small dark mold spots. Taleggio, like most washed-rind cheeses, has a mild, fruity flavor but an extremely pungent aroma, redolent with mushrooms, yeast and earth. It is most frequently eaten on its own, although it’s creamy texture permits blending into the risotto and polenta dishes of the region.

Maretima Nero d'Avola paired with Ubriaco del Piave PO-SI This wine has an intense perfume, with hints of violet, clove, small well-matured red and black fruits with notes of black pepper. Pairs with grilled, roasted and braised meats. Ubriaco means drunk or drunken in Italian. It can also be spelled Umbriaco. This cheese originates from ancient times in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy when Olive Oil was scarce and expensive. Grape pomace and wine was plentiful after harvest and was substituted to preserve cheese. Ubriaco is a hard cheese made from cow's milk, which is soaked in wine and covered with the crushed grape skins (grape pomace – the remains from pressing) for a period of time (days/weeks). The cheese is then allowed to further mature for six to ten months. It results in a cheese with a pale yellow-gold color, with a dark purple to light violet rind (depending on the grapes and age) and firm, slightly crumbly texture and some tiny holes.

Maretima Chianti paired with Fontina val D’Aosta and Fulvi Geniune Pecorino Romano Bright ruby red in color. On the nose it presents notes of red and black berry fruit. The palate is round and soft with a pleasant freshness, slightly tannic. Pecorino Toscano cheese (Tuscan pecorino) is a hard ewe’s milk cheese produced in Tuscany, and is made with full cream and pasteurized ewe's milk. Fontina is the symbol of agriculture in Italy's tiny, French speaking Aosta Valley region. The cows that produce the milk for Fontina Val d'Aosta graze on high-altitude Alpine pastures dotted with wildflowers and native herbs. Fontina is a great cooking cheese, as it melts evenly without losing any flavor. Extremely aromatic (some might say "stinky"), Fontina is best noted for its value as a savory and fruity table cheese, its slightly grassy flavor embodies the taste of a true raw milk cheese. Made from unpasteurized cow's milk, aged 90 days.

Ca del Monte Valpolicella paired with Gorgonzola Ruby red, with garnet notes. The bouquet is slightly spicy, floral and fruity, with hints of iris, violet, almond and berries. The palate is silky, warm and elegant, with oak notes in the end. Gorgonzola is one of the world’s oldest blue-veined cheeses. The Cheese is mainly produced in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy, Gorgonzola. Unskimmed cow’s milk is used while preparing the cheese. Generally it takes three to four months to attain full ripeness. This cheese has crumbly and soft texture with nutty aroma. It can have a mild to sharp taste depending on its age. Gorgonzola Dolce (also called Sweet Gorgonzola) and Gorgonzola Piccante (also called Gorgonzola Naturale, Gorgonzola Montagna, or Mountain Gorgonzola) are its two varieties, which vary in their age.


This mini publication is brought to you by The Wine Cellars, Inc. Written and Edited by Reneé Rowe Copyright ©2013 Renee’ Rowe. All rights reserved.

Pairing Wine & Cheese Italian Style  

Pairing Wine & Cheese Here are a few basic guidelines: Salty with Sweet The salty flavor of blue cheeses, and even some washed rind cheese...