Last month, the government of France called upon its citizens to eat more cheese. With millions under confinement, French cheesemakers found their fromage languishing in their warehouses. That kind of industry asking citizens to “Do it for your country” is a call to arms I can get behind.
U.S. artisan cheesemakers have the same problem. Goats, cows, and sheep keep producing milk and cheesemakers have lots of product to sell, so it may well be time to get out there and, well, be cheesy. As the French call the campaign, “Fromagissons!” which means “Let’s act for cheese.”
You may not be ready to host 8 people for dinner yet, but having a couple of neighbors over for wine and cheese seems doable. For choosing cheese, we say start with what you’re drinking. It’s all about matching styles. Here are a few suggestions, right down the middle, to get you started.
Champagne, or any dry white sparkling wine for that matter, loves salt so go with creamy salty cheeses like double or triple crème brie. Don’t be afraid to try easy finds like Saint Andre or unique French favorites like the Langres; leave it in the balsa box and pour a little champagne top! My pick: a gooey wedge of Brillat-Savarin.
Is your Riesling from Germany, Alsace, or Austria? Look for a nutty Comté or a stinky, gooey Munster. The sweetness of a good gruyere works well with Rieslings, especially those from California and Washington. If you’re making a cheese board, throw in a little tangy fresh goat cheese for some contrast. My pick: 36-month aged Comté.
Sauvignon Blancs, especially those with a little fruit like those from New Zealand, like slightly sharp cheeses and stand up to goat cheese well. And that funny cheddar someone bought with cranberries or lemon peel worked in? It should pair perfectly. My pick: Cypress Grove Psych-Dillic, a creamy, fresh goat cheese with dill and dill pollen.
Whether it’s old world or new world, heavy or light, classic Burgundy or a lush California version, these wines love cheese. Look for raw cows-milk cheeses with a developed bite like Citeaux or aromatic washed-rind cheeses like Epoisses. Aged goat works, as its strong flavors have mellowed and compliment the minerality and fruit a good Pinot brings to the table. My pick: Capriole Goat Cheese Juliana, an aged tomme covered in flowers.
Cabernet and Bordeaux blends love sharp cheeses with long aftertastes. Strong gouda is a classic cheese to pair with Cab, but don’t discount a sharp cheddar (from as far north as possible). These wines also can make sharp and savory Italian cheeses, like the aged pecorinos with peppercorns or truffles, really shine. My pick: Moliterno Al Tartufo aged with truffle paste.
Most of us don’t need an excuse to eat more cheese, but know that in today’s world, you’re doing your part as a good citizen.