For the past two years, I’ve been trying to become a better wine drinker. If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll know that I visited Peller Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake last August for my birthday. We stayed at a very nice resort but the highlight of the trip was visiting the winery, learning a bit of wine history, and earning about pairing wines and cheeses.On a casual week day, I’ll grab the cheapest bottle just to have with whatever left-overs I’m having for dinner. But on the weekends, for those special meals, I try to do a real pairing. My favourite would have to be pairing a light chardonnay wine with Camembert or brie.
Canada has a lot of great wine though. In fact Canadian journalist, Natalie MacLean just launched the search for the best Canadian wine and cheese pairings earlier this month. Natalie is the editor of Canada’s most popular wine review site and gathers together the largest Canadian wine community on social media. Now, she’s put together, The Great Canadian Wine & Cheese Match. Wine lovers from coast to coast can vote via social media for their favourite Canadian wines to match with Canadian cheeses to get ready for July 1 celebrations and summer entertaining.
The Great Canadian Wine & Cheese Match allows wine and cheese lovers to choose their favourite pairings themselves via real-time, online voting. The Twitter hashtag is #CdnWineCheese. Participants can nominate and vote for their favourite Canadian wines to pair with Canadian cheeses in six categories: cheddar, feta, mozzarella, goat cheese, creamy cheese and blue cheese. Voting ends May 31 with the top wines in each category named the best match with each Canadian cheese.
In the spirit of The Great Canadian Wine & Cheese Match, Natalie has also shared with us 6 quick tips on pairing wines and cheeses:
1. The easiest to pair are mild-flavored fresh and semi-fresh Canadian cheeses, such as mozzarella. They go especially well with light whites, of 12 percent or less alcohol, that have bright notes of fruit and crisp acidity, such as Prince Edward County Riesling.
2. The classic match of French goat cheese, or chèvre, is Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Loire Valley, as both carry the essence of fresh air and wild meadows. Try Canadian goat cheese with Niagara Sauvignon Blanc. The racy acidity of those wines cuts through to the chalky heart of this cheese, and enhances the grassy notes in the cheese.
3. Double- and triple-cream cheeses are tough to match with wine because their creamy texture can smother wine and make it taste thin. A good match is a robust white wine, such as a barrel-fermented or barrel-aged Okanagan Chardonnay. Both the cheese and the wine have creamy, buttery aromas and texture.
4. Another good match is Nova Scotia Sparkling Wine — a great fall-back for many tough-to-match foods and many Canadian soft cheeses. Bubbly helps to diffuse salt and cut through fat with its palate-cleansing acidity and effervescence.
5. For hard cheeses, such as cheddar, try a Niagara Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Their flavors even mimic some of those in mature, full-bodied reds, such as notes of earth, nuts, and coffee.
6. The most difficult cheeses to pair with wine are the blues, as their strong taste and powerful saltiness tends to make red wine taste bitter and hot. The best foil for salt is sweet, so avoid dry and off-dry wines and go straight for the sweeter ones like a Quebec Icewine or Hard Cider.