Cheese and Wine Pairing Uncorked: Warming Up with Aged Gouda

"Sweet dreams are made of Cheese, Who am I to Diss a Brie I travel the Roquefort and the Seven Cheese Everybody's looking for Stilton." ~ Unknown

One time, guest-contributor Sara Kahn has a timely article which she shared with my readers last year and I thought since it was trending once more, I'd trot it back to the forefront. Sara Kahn of former cheese fame found she had an undying passion for gourmet cheese. Sara discovered that shopping for the right cheese could be overwhelming, time-consuming and even downright confusing. She thought there had to be better ways to enjoy the cheese she so dearly loved and wanted find a simple way to share that passion with others.

So she established The Cheese Ambassador [now defunct] to offer a simple, yet very convenient way to select and serve the world’s most excellent cheeses from just about anywhere. She did so by providing the perfect combination of exquisite cheeses along with a comprehensive cheese course guide, where clients could learn how to better enjoy gourmet cheese for themselves, which sounds like a deliciously enriching experience. I would say to please follow her on twitter @CheeseSpot or connect with her on Facebook and be sure to "like" her page, but it appears she has all but disappeared off the scene into the black hole of the internet. That said her advice is still sound and the recommendations remain.

It was in January, just a couple of weeks before the Super Bowl, we had plans to hang with family and have a few friends over the weekend. But instead of an elaborate spread and fancy cocktails, we settled in with hearty yet straightforward fare and a few bottles of red.

Being 'The Cheese Ambassador,' our guests have come to expect the evening to include a sampling of gourmet cheese. We started the meal with a chunk of 4-year-old Gouda and challenged the gang to a mission they were all too happy to accept - determine the best wine match. Aaah, Gouda. A traditional cheese that has been reinterpreted the world over. Gouda is traditionally a cow’s milk cheese from Holland, but you can now find it made from goat, sheep, and cows from an international collection of dairymen.

The Dutch pronunciation of Gouda is “how-duh” with the “how” tickling the back of your throat. A special type of Gouda is called Boerenkaas. “Boeren” meaning “farm” and “Kaas” meaning “cheese.” It’s a simple name for a complex cheese. This is not your ordinary grocery store Gouda enveloped in red wax. Boerenkaas is a farmstead cheese made with unpasteurized cow’s milk from a single farm. Deep burnt-gold in color Boerenkaas becomes rock hard and concentrates in flavor as it ages. Break off a chunk and notice the butterscotch aroma. The taste is intense and piquant. Its caramel and nutty flavors are accented by the salty, crunchy protein crystals (a hallmark of aged cheeses) that melt in your mouth.

Anytime Wine & Cheese Pairing: This cheese packs a punch and can stand up to full-bodied red wines. We paired the Boerenkaas with two New World, high-alcohol wines – a Merlot from Sonoma and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina. The salty and nutty flavors of the cheese nicely contrasted with the jammy, berry flavors of the Merlot while the piquancy of the cheese matched the bittersweet chocolate notes of the Cabernet Sauvignon. The group was split on selecting the winning match. But that’s the beauty of cheese and wine pairings – there are no right or wrong answers. It’s all about personal taste, but at the same time, some cheeses do naturally pair better with specific styles of wine.

Recommended Wine: I would recommend the Hess Collection Cabernet, Allomi Vineyard 2013, as an everyday wine to that can stand up to cheese of this type. That said if you're not feeling this recommendation, may I also suggest a robust Shiraz from down under. Aged cheddars also make a tasty pairing partner with Cabernet Sauvignon, the dryer the better.

Price and ABV: A very even-keeled 14.4% just waits to be uncorked, a well-made wine, I'd describe as well-polished wine for a princely-paupers price. Considering the SRP is a mere $32.00, but if you do your homework, you could possibly find it in the mid-twentysomething price range. But don't fret if you're unable to find this vintage, the Hess Collection produces this bottling in a reasonably consistent style, saving a reserve of the previous year to blend into the current vintage. But if this bottle from the Allomi Vineyard is a bit too pricey, go for the lesser expensive, more generic 'green' labeled bottle.

The Blend: Okay so you may be wondering what's in the blend, here you go 86% Cabernet Sauvignon 11% Petite Sirah 3% Petit Verdot; which spent 18 Months in 25% New American Oak. Similar to the Silver Oak style for quite a bit less money. Fifty-four thousand cases produced.

Tasting notes: In the glass color showed dark cherry and crimson. On the palate, the gentle spice in the nose and front palate followed by a long tri-berry cobbler mouthfeel with good acidity, a delicate structure; with a persistently pleasant finish. It’s what I’d call a very food friendly wine, which is immediately approachable after uncorking and there's no real need to decant.

Other Pairing Suggestions: I think BBQ roasted chicken, grilled pork, caramelized onions, Baby Back Ribs, sautéed greens, roasted vegetables and aged Jack or an aged Gouda will enhance the fruit flavors in this wine.

What's the Score: If you'd like to know the score: I scored this wine 89 points. Then taking into account this wines QPR scores it boost this wines overall rating to 91 points.

Sara was kind enough to send a sample of some of the cheese she offers at The Cheese Ambassador. Whoa and wow were the words I used to describe the experience. The variety, the quality of the hand-selected cheeses sent was impressive.

Let me tell you I was really impressed by the taste, freshness and overall quality of this cheese. The selection of cheese's from CA come packaged very smartly, so you don't have any spoilage issues or concerns. So get online and check out all the fantastic cheese products on her site and put in your order.

The wine you see above can be purchased at a variety of places either online from the Hess Collection or at your favorite grocery store wine aisle. It's a widely distributed, while I believe this wine is an absolute must to have with this pairing, or just anytime you’d like a very dependable, great tasting, Tuesday evening style of Cabernet ready to puts a smile on your face. There is as suggested above alternatives to this pairing, explore, explore and find one that suits your own palate. Until next time, sip long and prosper cheers, everyone!
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