Wine & Cheese Pairing

The Love of Cheese & Wine

Napa Valley Wine & Cheese Pairing

Wine & Cheese Pairings

Raise a glass to one of the best duos in history, Wine & Cheese. Many pairings that are considered classics, emerged from the centuries-old relationship between a region’s cuisine and their wines. This powerful duo remains the key to our heart and maybe some Castle doors. While enjoying our Castello wines, there are a few tried & true combinations that will standout.

There are many factors that go into the pairing of wine and cheese. The best pairings complement each other particularly well when considering texture, fat, acidity, and salt.

In addition to drying and concentrating the cheese, age introduces new flavors. Rind cheeses like Brie remain gooey and spreadable, but the cheese develops earthy notes after a few months of aging in the caves. Older cheeses like Gruyère acquire deep nutty flavors. Blue cheeses develop pungency from the mold in their veins. Washed-rind cheeses like Époisses develop a funky, flavor that you either love or hate.

Wines also run the spectrum from delicate to bold, and their depth and complexity can correlate with their age. Young wines are fresh and spirited, with lively aromas and bright flavors of fruits, flowers, citrus, herbs, or spice. Wines that have spent time in cask or bottle have had a chance to acquire more nuance. In addition to their primary fruit, they take on secondary notes of oak, toast, earth, oxidation, minerals, and more. Like cheeses, these wines tend to be more complex and savory than their younger counterparts.

Italian Cheese and Wine Pairing

A Divine Pairing From The Gods

In a study at ChemoSens in France, researchers determined that cheese improved the perception of fruit aromas, reduced the duration of astringency of red wines, and heightened the taste of white wine. Cheese which is customarily high in fat, coats the mouth and blocks taste receptors to beverages. The acidity and sweetness of a well-paired wine can cut through this creamy barrier to create an excellent mouthfeel.

Cheeses vary in moisture content, fat content, texture and flavor. Wines also vary in acidity, sweetness, body, and structure. A few basic guidelines will bring you cheese & wine success.

The main concept behind pairings is that certain elements (such as texture and flavor) in both cheese and wine interact with each other, and thus finding the right combination of these elements will make the entire dining experience more enjoyable.

Spumante Cheese Pairing

Rules of Cheese & Wine Pairing

Pair by flavor intensity. Consider the effect age has on the intensity of wine. We can see how young cheeses might partner best with sparkling crisp whites, dry rosés, and reds with good acidity. Older cheeses need wines with more body and complexity. The oldest cheeses, those that are the most rich and nutty, pair best with wines that have ample body and structure. Cheeses become bolder and more complex as they age, taking on concentrated flavors. If you have a 3 year aged cheddar, it’s going to have a richness to it that needs a wine with an equal amount of depth.

Pay Attention To Texture. Cheese changes drastically in texture, which is based on what type of milk, what style of cheese, and how long it has been aged for. Young, fresh, and rindless cheeses are soft, and when served at room-temperature can become gooey. Hard cheeses, on the other hand, need to be crumbled or cut.

Watch those tannins. Tannic rich red wines pair wonderfully with bold aged cheeses, tannins help bind to protein and fat. T same process makes tannic wines feel far too astringent with young cheeses; they tie up what little fat’s available, leaving you with a chalky and metallic aftertaste.

Salt loves sweet. Sweet wines balance the salty cheeses like Blue cheese, aged Gouda or Feta. The salt in the cheese increases the sweetness in the wine.

Cheese loves fruit and nuts. Fruits go very well with young cheeses like Brie. Sweet dried fruits are wonderful with salty cheeses like Blue, Buttery, bitter nuts are tasty with rich Cheddar.

Wine and Cheese Pairing

Castello Wine & Cheese Pairings

Explore our favorite Castello wine & cheese pairings. Try these basic wine and cheese combinations at home.

Kick it up a notch. Add these elements to elevate a cheese pairing to a sweet and salty palate sensation. These items also make a great addition to any charcuterie board.

  • Nuts – Buttery, bitter nuts are tasty with rich cheeses like Cheddar.
  • Fruits – Fruits go very well with young cheeses like Brie. Sweet dried fruits are wonderful with salty cheeses like Blue cheese.
  • Balsamic Reduction – Serve over hard cheeses or a Caprese Salad. A reduction of balsamic will elevate a cheese pairing to a sweet and salty palate sensation.
  • Honey – This is an elegant addition to any wine & cheese board. Honey adds a fair bit of complexity to a long list of cheeses. The key to pairing honey and cheese is to pair a light honey with a mild cheese and more rounded flavored honey with a more intense cheese. Among the best honey & cheese pairings are Provolone cheese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Honey & blue cheese create a contrast that could create a fan of even the harshest blue cheese critics. Goat cheeses, Gorgonzola, Pecorino Romano, Brie all go great with honey.

Wine & Cheese Pairings

Cabernet Sauvignon & Cheddar

Americas most popular wine has a bevy of cheeses that work well. Complex flavors often stand up the best to sophisticated profile of Cabernet Sauvignon. Your best bet is aged Cheddar which will stand up to the strong cheddar with its lingering after taste.

Why it works: These semi-hard/hard style cheeses help to elevate the dark fruit flavors of the wine. However try to remember the bigger the oak in the wine, the fewer the cheese choices you have.

Also try: Aged Gouda, Comté

Cabernet Sauvignon and Cheddar cheese pairing

Merlot & Cotswald

This is where rich fatty cheeses can play, cheddar or my fave, Cotswald which I lovingly call Baked potato cheese as it is creamy, buttery, and full-flavored like cheddar. The cheese has chives and onions so it is rich & savory. Perfect for the tannins in merlot.” – Castle Sommelier Mary Davidek

Why it works: Cotswald is a creamy Double Gloucester cheese laced with onion and chives. The rich creamy Cotswald plays well with the tannic Merlot.

Also try: Asiago, Brick, Muenster, Gouda and Colby

Merlot Wine & Cotswald Cheese

Sangiovese & Pecorino

Both eternally popular in Italy, the pair have been friends for well over 100 years. The beloved Italian grape brings bright cherry, earthy tomato, and savory garden herb to the table while the aged Parmigiano-Reggiano brings a rich complex nuttiness. Sangiovese also pairs well with the very popular Parmesan and Mozzarella.

Why it works: Sangiovese is known for its full body, acidity, and bold character. The complex character of a Pecorino brings a rich nuttiness with the vibrant acidity of Sangiovese.

Also try: Parmigiano, Grana padan, Fontina, Mozzarella

Wine & Cheese Pairing

Pinot Noir & Grueyere

Pinot Noir works well with most soft cheeses but the nutty flavors of the Grueyere play a great contrast to the dark fruits in Pinot Noir. The subtle acidity and polished tannins further the complex relationship in the pairing.

Why it works: The berry fruit in the rich red wine complements the flavor of this medium-firm cheese without overpowering it. They both have just enough aroma and complexity to make things interesting.

Also try: Comté, Emmenthal, Goud

Food and Wine

Spumante & Brie Cheese

Triple-cream soft cheeses (brie, Camembert) are the perfect match. But there are more great cheese pairings with Champagne and other sparkling wines.

Why it works: The sparkling wines crisp acidity plays well with the complex buttery and earthy flavors of Brie. The sparkling notes help temper the thick creamy texture and leave a refreshed mouthfeel.

Also try: Camembert, Roquefort

Spumante & Brie Cheese

Gewürztraminer & La Tur

La Tur is an Italian triple cream from the Piedmont region of Italy and is made from an equal mixture of cow, sheep and goat milk. Typically with double and triple creams a bright white wine like dry Gewurztraminer can work best. Typically salty cheeses and Gewürztraminer are not the best together, so opt instead for mild cow’s milk cheeses.

Honey can be added to this duo for an extra flavor sensation.

Why it works: The heavy triple cream can be easily cut through by the bright dry Gewürztraminer, making for a refreshed palate and mouthfeel.

Also try: Muenster, Gruyère, Roquefort, Capocollo, Stilton, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Boursin, Swiss cheese, Pepper Jack

Gewürztraminer wine paired with La Tur cheese

Pinot Bianco & Goat Cheese

“The tang sweetness combined with a creamy goat cheese like Sonoma chevre by Laura Chenel or Capricho de Cabra from Spain, drizzle a little of our Basil grape seed oil on it and total Goat love with Pinot Bianco.” – Castle Sommelier Mary Davidek

Why it works: The crisp acidity of Pinot Bianco is the perfect compliment to the creamy fatty notes of Goat Cheese.

Also try: Feta, Baby Swiss, Gouda, Majorero, Mahon, Dry Jack

Pinot Bianco & Goat Cheese

Pinot Grigio & Goat Cheese

Because of its tangy and salty flavor, it pairs well with the crisp fruitiness of Pinot Grigio.

Why it works: The crisp acidity of Pinot Grigio is the perfect compliment to the creamy fatty notes of Goat Cheese.

Also try: Fresh Mozzarella, Mild Cheddars, Brie, Baby Swiss

Pinot Grigio & Goat Cheese

Vermentino & Fiore Sardo

Believed to date back to the Bronze Age, Fiore Sardo hails from the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia, Italy. A lighter, crisper white wine like Vermentino, tends to be refreshing and fruity which works well with the semi-hard, smoked cheese.

When drinking Vermentino you should always avoid overly pungent fromage and focus on fresh cheeses.

Why it works: This is one of those hyper-regional parings. Both Vermentino and pecorino come from the small island of Sardegna, Italy. Engulfed by the salty sea, both the grape vines and the scrubby bush the sheep feed on take on similar light, savory, citrus, and salty characteristics.

Also try: Ricotta, Buffalo Mozzarella, Goat Cheese, Pecorino, Feta

Pesto Pasta

Gioia & Pepper Jack

Dry fruit rosé can handle a little spice and heat. This sangiovese based rosé is no different boasting bright berry and melon flavors. Rosé boasts a versatility that allows it to work well with several different cheeses.

Why it works: The bright fruit can help graze through the spicy notes of Pepper Jack.

Also try: Comté, Monterey Jack

Rosé wine & pepper jack.

Il Passito (Sauterne Style) & Blue Cheese

Big salty cheese pair wonderfully with the sweet flavors from the sauterne. The sweetness of Il Passito is an excellent foil for the sharp savory flavors of a number of famous and strongly-flavored cheeses.

Why it works: Balance plays a big role in making these combinations so special.

Also try: Blue Cheese (Stilton or Roquefort), Port Salut, Red Square, Triple Cream Brie, Epoisse

sweet wine and blue cheese pairing

Moscato & Gorgonzola

Moscato is a sweet, fruity wine with hints of candied peach, orange blossom, and honeydew melon. Gorgonzola is a blue cheese that ranges from creamy and soft to firm and crumbly. It’s full-flavored with earthy undertones of saltiness. The age of Gorgonzola determines the overall creaminesss. This wine & cheese pairing is also tremendous with the addition of honey.

Why it works: The sweet notes of the Moscato is balanced perfectly with the salty flavors from Gorgonzola.

Also try: Munster

Moscato & Gorgonzola
Cheese & Wine Whiz

Semolina Cake w/ Herb and Citrus Syrup

Recipe Date: March 8th, 2021
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Semolina Cake with Herb and Citrus Syrup

Adapted with changes from Azlin Bloor, Lins Food

Italian semolina cakes are traditionally desserts made with a rich cornmeal or grain created for celebrations like Carnival. This moist dense cake incorporates a touch of sweetness when it is adorned with an infused simple syrup of perfume-y lemons or citrus. With our semolina cake, we used fresh-picked Castello rosemary and lemons to create a dynamic flavor profile pairable with our Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay – a perfect treat for anytime of day!

Cake Batter

220g (7 4/5oz) fine semolina (semolina flour)

120g (4 1/5oz) ground almonds (almond flour)

1 tsp baking powder

240g (8 2/5oz) salted butter

240g (8 2/5oz) caster or granulated sugar

3 large eggs

80g (1/4 cup) Lemon Curd

Rosemary and Lemon Syrup

125ml (1/2 cup) water

100g (1/2 cup) white sugar

1 lemon – rind and juice

3 sprigs rosemary

2 Tbsp limoncello (optional)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180˚C/160˚C Fan/350˚F.
  • You will need a 20cm (8″) round cake tin. Grease and line it as required. Mine doesn’t need lining, just greasing. Set aside.
  • Place the semolina, ground almonds and baking powder in a large bowl, mix and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugar for 1 whole minute until pale and light in texture. Depending on the speed of your mixer, you can reduce the time.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, along with a tablespoon of the semolina mix with each egg. Beat at high speed for a good 30 seconds between each addition. Adding flour with your egg, or in this instance, semolina and almonds, will stop the eggs from curdling. I do this for all my cakes. If your batter does curdle, it doesn’t matter, your cake will still be fine, if just marginally different in texture.
  • Fold in the lemon curd, then the semolina and almond mix. Fold in or beat on the lowest setting.
  • Pour your cake batter into your prepared tin and bake for 1 hour. If your oven runs hot, check it at the 55 min mark. 
    • Side note: If you notice your cake browning at the top darker than you prefer, take some foil to cover the edges and top about 30-35 minutes into baking. 
  • Take it out of the oven and pour half the syrup all over. Leave to cool slightly before taking out of the tin and serving. Folks with a sweet tooth, can add their more syrup to the individual slices.

Rosemary Syrup

  • Use a vegetable peeler and peel long strips off the lemon, then slice these strips thinly.
    • We peeled (2) lemons for extra flavor!
  • Place the lemon strips, water and sugar in a saucepan on low heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Take it off the heat and add the lemon juice and rosemary sprigs. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then strain and stir in the limoncello if using. Keep the syrup aside until needed. You can hang on to the lemon peel and rosemary for garnish
Notes:

Yield: 12 servings

Prep & Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Salute!


Wine Pairing – Pinot Bianco



Pesto Pasta

Ziti Rigati w/ Pesto Guanciale & Romano

Pesto Pasta

Recipe Date: March 1st, 2021
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Ziti Rigati with Fava Bean Pesto Guanciale & Pecorino Romano

From Amy Gulick Italy Magazine

When asked to create an Italian-inspired dish using Castello products, Executive Chef of Oak Avenue Catering, Shannon Kelly delivered! “My inspiration for our pasta dish is simply SPRING! In the middle of Winter I crave the warmth and sunshine of springtime. Fava beans express to me the essence of spring and I feel this dish utilizes these simple but flavorful ingredients to capture springtime on a plate.” Footage of the chef recreating the dish coming soon!

 

Oak Avenue Catering Fava Bean Pesto 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen fava beans
  • ¼ – 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Castello Basil Grape Seed Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon and juice
  • Salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions

Put favas into the bowl of your food processor along with the cheese, zest, juice, salt and red pepper flakes and pulse a few times. Add the oil and continue to pulse until you have a somewhat chunky but

amalgamated pesto. Taste the pesto and season. Process longer if you want a smoother consistency.

 

Ziti Rigati with Fava Bean Pesto Guanciale & Pecorino Roman

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces guanciale or pancetta, cut into thin strips
  • 1 pound of Castello-imported Ziti Rigati Pasta
  • Castello Basil Grape seed Oil
  • Salt for cooking pasta

Directions

Cook your pasta al dente in plenty of salted water, and in the meantime cook thin strips of guanciale/pancetta in grape seed oil until just turning crisp. When the pasta is ready add it to the guanciale/pancetta along with several scoops of your pesto, some grated pecorino Romano and freshly ground black pepper. Add a small amount of pasta water to make a creamy sauce. Sprinkle some more grated Romano cheese and drizzle some basil grape seed oil over the top and serve with a glass of Castello Vermentino!

Notes

Yield: 6 servings | Prep & Cook Time: 1 Hour

Enjoy and cheers!

March 2021 Competition

The entry rules are as followed:

Call Wine Club with any questions at 7079676274!


Wine Pairing – Vermentino



Flourless Chocolate Cake

Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Recipe Date: February 1st, 2021
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Torta Tenerina—Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake

From Our Sweet Adventures

The Origin of the Torta Tenerina: A Love Story

Torta Tenerina translates to “very tender cake.” This decadent and traditional Italian dessert, with its’ crispy edges and melting chocolate center, hails from Ferrara of northern Italy. In 1896, King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy Met Elena Petrovich of Montenegro at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice during the International Art Exhibition. History states it was love at first sight and the couple soon wedded on October 24,1896. The two had a loving marriage and ascended to the throne in 1900. queen Elena became known as “the bride with the tender heart.” The people named the cake after her and often referred to it as the Torta Montenegrin or Torta Regina del Montenegro as well.

Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups (283 grams) of grated 70%
  • chocolate bars
  • 4 eggs (separated)
  • 3/4 Cups granulated sugar (separated into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate slowly by stirring constantly. Then add the butter in increments until a silky-smooth mixture forms.

Whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture turns pale yellow and begins ribbon stage.

Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture and mix thoroughly. Then add the cornstarch and a pinch of salt into the batter until combined. At this point, the batter will be thick and paste-like. Set aside.

In another bowl, create a meringue by whisking together the egg whites with the remaining sugar until medium-stiff peaks form.

Carefully fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture in three increments. You do not want to over mix or you will lose air in the batter.

Pour the cake batter into the greased springform pan. Level it out evenly. Then bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes. You will know when the cake is finished baking when it feels firm to the touch.

Note: To compliment the rich flavors of this cake, pair it with a glass of La Fantasia or our La Castellana

 

 

Notes

Yield: 8 servings | Prep & Cook Time: 50 minutes

 

Enjoy and cheers!


Wine Pairing – La Castellana or La Fantasia



steak florentine recipe

Florentine-Style Steak

steak florentine recipe

Recipe Date: February 1st, 2021
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Bistecca Alla Fiorentina (Florentine-Style Beef Steak)

From Flapper Press

In the 16th Century, the Piazza San Lorenzo served as an international crossroads in Florance, Italy. When the English knights visited the Piazza, they would express their appreciation of the Florentine Streak shouting “beef steak,” influencing the Florentines naming the meat “bistecca.” This hearty steak, typically the T-Bone of a cow, is grilled over charcoal for a caramelized outside with a rare and juicy inside.*

Ingredients

  • 1 Porterhouse steak, cut 2-3 inches thick, 3-3.5 pounds
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2-4 sprigs of rosemary (optional, for serving)
  • Lemon wedges (optional, for serving)

Directions

Prepare your grill, with coals or wood embers. Using an electric grill or cast-iron griddle would work as well.

Heat the surface of the grill. Place the Porterhouse steak standing on the bone to warm the interior and soften the fat fiber. Continue for about 15 minutes.

Now heat the grill to a very high temperature. Place the steak on its’ side for 5 minutes without moving the meat. The meat should roast without burning and come away with beautiful grill markings.

Final Touches

When the meat is done to your liking, remove it from the grill and let it rest for about 15 minutes in a warm place for the juices to settle.

Carve the filet and strip the steaks off the bone. Slice each steak against the grain and place on a serving platter with lemons, rosemary, and salt.

 

Notes

Serves: 3-4 People | Cook Time: 25 min

 

Enjoy and cheers!


Wine Pairing – Il Barone or Cabernet Sauvignon



Pasta Recipe

Cacio e Pepe

Pasta Recipe

Recipe Date: December 2nd, 2020
Difficulty: Easy
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Cacio e Pepe

From Laura in The Kitchen

The Cacio e pepe pasta, an incredible dish of the ancient Roman Sheppards’ dating back to the 5th century. This remains a simple dish for the everyday people that is now quite famous in Italian cuisine. We are pairing this pasta with our Pinot Noir that gives a complimenting spice when paired together. The recipe below is by Laura Vitale of the Laura in the Kitchen Youtube channel. She began cooking in the kitchen of her Grandmother in Naples, Italy and brought her love of creating “food that feeds the soul” to the United States.

Ingredients

  • 8oz of Spaghetti
  • 3oz of Finely Shredded Pecorino (see notes below)
  • 1-1/2 tsp of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Salt

Directions

• Fill a pot with water, add a generous pinch of salt (not too much) and bring to a boil, add the pasta and cook 2 minutes shy of package instructions.

• In a large skillet (I prefer a non-stick heavy duty skillet here) add the ground black pepper, toast for about a minute, meanwhile reserve a couple of cups of starchy cooking water and set aside while you drain your pasta.

• Add 1/2 cup of the starchy water to the bowl of shredded cheese, stir and set aside.

• Add an additional 1/2 cup of the starchy water to the skillet with the pepper, then add the spaghetti (make sure the heat is on low) and start adding your cheese mixture, constantly stirring until Emulsified and adding any additional cooking water if needed. Continue the process until your sauce comes together.

Notes

This dish is one you need to practice, so many things can create a clumpy split mess so I hope these tips help avoid that. Make sure your cheese is grated finely using a Microplane and make sure it’s at room temperature. Keep an eye on the heat level, you might need to remove the pan completely from the burner to avoid overheating the cheese. Avoid using a thin metal pan, it gets way too hot and heats unevenly, most of the time I’ve tried making this dish in anything besides my heavy duty all clad non-stick skillet, it turned out a mess. Don’t over-salt your water, I know it looks like I added a lot of salt in the video but keep in mind I don’t use fine table salt, I use coarse kosher salt so it’s technically triple the size of a regular fine salt. This is a dish that needs to be eaten HOT, right off the stove and traditionally it should be served on warm plates to keep the sauce from setting and hardening the second it hits a cold surface. Use the best (imported if possible) pecorino Romano you can find, if you use a cheaper version or pre-shredded I can guarantee you it will clump in a second! I also use a bit more cheese but it’s easier to start with 3oz and once you have the technique down you can add another ounce. I hope these tips help, for such a simple dish it’s the technique that really matters and it does take some trial and error.

 

Enjoy and cheers!


Wine Pairing – Pinot Noir, Il Rubino