Seasons of the Vine – May/June 2012

0011Pairing Wine and Cheese

Often, white wines are easier to pair with cheese than reds. This is because the high acidity of many whites gives them versatility. The acid cuts through the rich buttery cheese and enhances the taste of the wine.

    Tannins often clash with cheeses, so red wines are generally less successful. However, local reds derived from cold climate grapes are lower in tannins. The basic guidelines below apply to all wines: local or regional (USA), old world or new world.

Basic guidelines
• Soft, creamy cheeses are lovely with crisp whites and “bubblies”
• Semi-soft cheeses, particularly ones with hints of sweetness, are great with a fruity or slightly sweet white
• Most hard cheeses pair nicely with whites
• For semi-soft cheeses with a red, go with a fruity, low-tannin red or soft Pinot Noir (Four Daughters winery has one fermenting)
• Several semi-hard cheeses work well with red wine
• Aged hard cheeses call for a bigger red (the bigger and more tannic the red, the harder the cheese)
• Most blue-veined cheeses go well with sweet or slightly sweet wines
• Strong, pungent cheeses pair well with sweet, fortified wines like Port or late harvest

Goat cheese is in a category by itself. It’s high in acid and best served with a wine of at least equal acidity. Minnesota varietal wines often carry an edge with a higher acid profile. On a worldwide scale, goat cheese pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc. A caveat, there are a range of styles in goat cheese and wines.

    Feta is another fresh cheese which calls for a Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. While flavors are more likely to clash when pairing cheese with a red wine, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some reasonable combinations.

    Taste a pairing before you serve it to guests. Keep notes and remember: we all learn from mistakes.

News from Area Wineries (check individual websites for a current listing of special events throughout the year):
Cannon River Winery (Cannon Falls), 507-263-7400 or

Four Daughters Winery (Spring Valley), 507-346-7300,
Thursday Four Course Dinners (by reservation only) includes a tour by the winemaker.  

Post Town Winery (Rochester),
507-251-1946, Wine and cheese pairings, 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month through May 26, 2012, 2-7 p.m., $5, call for reservations. Tasting room open every Saturday beginning in June. Note: certain online navigational tools have been directing visitors incorrectly. The location is on the west side of Rochester on the frontage road just northwest of Highway 14 and West Circle Drive (County 22).

Salem Glen Winery (Rochester),
507-365-8758, Minnesota chocolate sample now available
with wine pairing recommendations.

Whitewater Wines (Plainview),
Now open for the season with two new dry reds: Leon Millot and Marechal Foch.

Upcoming Events/Tours
May 26-27, Top the Barrel,
12-5 p.m. Sample from the cask at member wineries.

June 2-3, June Bloom Wine Event,
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sample fine wine, cider and food from wineries on the Great River Road Wine Trail. Advance tickets $25 per person ($30 day of  event). Visit

June 23-24, Three Rivers Wine Trail Annual Wine and Art Crawl, 12-5 p.m. Enjoy great local wine and exciting local art at five wineries on the trail: Cannon River Winery, Falconer Vineyards, St. Croix Vineyards, Northern Vineyards and Winehaven Winery. Complete your wine trail passport for a complimentary glass of wine.

June 24, Bluff Country Winery Trolley Tour, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Spend the day touring Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery, Scenic Valley Winery and Lanesboro. $49 per person includes wine-tastings and trolley tour, See ad page 47.

July 21-22, Cannon Falls Wine and Art Festival, 12-4 p.m. Watch for more information in the July/August issue of Rochester Women.  

Margo Stich is food editor for Rochester Women magazine.