I’m almost positive that somewhere in the backlog of ‘Notes from Wine Country’ blog postings, I’ve made at least one, perhaps two, references to my love of good cheese paired with equally good wine (and what a joy it is when the match is perfect). I mean, let’s be honest, it’s the ultimate food and wine equation:
HAPPY = (Good Cheese + Good Wine) / X
Of course, there’s the value of ‘X’ to be considered here. So let’s assign a value of PERFECT for X. But PERFECT is an inconsistent constant, and there’s the rub. You see, for all the cheesemongers and wine geeks out there who claim there are many great wine and cheese matches, truthfully, there are just a paltry few that are a perfect match: Sauternes and Roquefort, Tawny Port and Stilton, Sancerre and Chevre, etc. There are many more bad matches to be found, some of which are traditional pairings.
Now I recently had a new (for me, anyway), delicious European cheese called Etorki. This is a sheep’s milk cheese from the Basque region near the Pyrenees. The Basque area straddles both the Spanish and French side of the mountains, but technically, this ivory colored, buttery, and slightly nutty cheese is a fromage and not a queso (translation: it’s French!). Apparently they’ve been making it for millennia out of the milk of a certain breed of sheep, the Manech. Basque shepherds traditionally serve it with black cherry jam.
Now the jam part got me to thinking. What if I try a jammy, fruity red wine as a foil for the Etorki? Well I sampled it the other day with a rich Spanish Garnacha (Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos). It was a pretty good match. Was it PERFECT? Well, not quite. But with Etorki now available at select ABCFWS store locations, I plan on picking up some more and having fun with my recalculations!
Jim Greeley, Wine Supervisor (and admitted wine geek), SW Florida
Follow me on Twitter @AbcWineJimG