A Wine and Cheese Pairing How-to for the Holidays

Santa Ynez Valley Style

The holidays are upon us which most likely means you’re at least two drafts into guest lists and menus for an upcoming festivus get-together. Here in the Santa Ynez Valley, we love a good wine and believe, as tradition tells, that there are few better things to pair it with than cheese. We’ve created a mini pairing how-to for holiday events and even threw in a few beer options to ensure you’re covered when it comes to family and friends and their spirit of choice.

A wine and cheese pairing party by Alchemy Fine Events.

A wine and cheese pairing party by Alchemy Fine Events.

A few basic wine pairing principles:

Go White
When it comes to wine and cheese pairings, people tend to think red, but truth be told, white is where it’s at. As local winery, Bridlewood Estate Winery and Laura Werline, an award-winning author and authority on cheese, share, “Compared to reds, white wines, like Chardonnay, work better with most cheeses. Most people don’t like to hear this, but I promise you, it’s true.” The lack of tannins (textural elements like grape seeds, grape skins and oak that make wine taste dry) along with white wine’s lively acidity usually make it the better choice.

If Red, Go Light or Old
Just in case you insist, No way, no how can I go through the holidays without a glass of red wine – may we suggest you look for a lighter, older one? A light, low-tannin wine like a Beaujolais is a great choice. Just make sure to pick one that has had time to age because (vino nerd-alert) tannins mellow over time.

Pair like with like
Just as when you plan a meal and pair lighter wines with lighter foods and heavier wines with heavier foods, so too, light cheeses like goat cheese, tend to pair nicely with a crisper, lighter wine. The rule also applies to beer and cheese: pair mild with mild and intense with intense.

Pair From the Same Region
When in doubt, make this your go-to trick.

Salty with Sweet
A winning combo in all fields of food, the salty taste of a blue cheese and even some washed rind cheeses beautifully balance the sweetness of dessert wines.

Rich and Creamy with Bubbles
Champagne or any sparkling wine paired with a rich, creamy cheese is a great pleasure – and that’s what the holidays are for, right?

 

A few brew & wine pairing cheat sheets:

Image via matchmywine.com

Image via matchmywine.com

Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, and the American Dairy Association (ADA) partnered to create a simple guide (originally found at BeerAdvocate.com):
Sharp Cheddar with Pale Ale
Feta with Wheat Beer
Mascarpone with Fruit Beer
American Cheese with Pilsner
Colby with Brown Ale
Gorgonzola with Barleywine
Gruyére with Bock Beer
Swiss Cheese with Octoberfest Beer
Parmesan with Amber Lager

Wisconsin Cheese has two brilliant and easy online pairing tools that allow the user to pick a wine, beer or cheese which the tools then match to a smorgasbord of pairing options: Cheese Cupid
Wisconsin Cheese Pairing Tool

 

Thanksgiving Buffets in Santa Ynez
Santa Ynez Valley Marriott loves to entertain and this Thanksgiving, we welcome you into our home. Reserve you and your family’s places at our Thanksgiving Dinner Buffet now and let the worry of feast-making to-dos disappear. Our Starting Gate restaurant will be preparing a chef-carved turkey, prime rib of beef, baked ham, poached salmon, jumbo shrimp, a pasta bar, a variety of Mediterranean and local salads and delicious desserts. Reservations are required, so please call (805) 688-1000 to reserve a table. For more information, visit us at syvmarriott.com.

SYVM-Thanksgiving-AD-ver2

A Wine and Cheese How-to for the Holidays
Here in the Santa Ynez Valley, we love a good wine and believe, as tradition tells, that there are few better things to pair it with than cheese. We’ve created a mini how-to for pairing your wine and cheese for holiday events and even threw in a few beer options to ensure you’re covered when it comes to family, friends and their holiday spirit of choice.

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