End A Meal With Cheese, Fruit, and Wine
To me, there is something very sophisticated about cheese for dessert. I can almost picture that little café in the French countryside.....Anyway, in America the cheese plate usually precedes the dinner, or is paraded out for openings and evening affairs. But in France, in particular, the daily meal ends with cheese. And dessert is saved for special occasions.
Credit: morguefilesThe end of a meal, with fruit and cheese around the table, encourages conversation and relaxation and acts as a kind of signal that the day's work is over, and now we can enjoy the pleasures of our family and friends.
Pairing certain cheeses with fruits, and wines with particular cheeses is a foodies dream. The fruit acts as a bridge between the wine and the cheese, and adds another layer of enjoyment to the meal.
There are so many recommendations as to which wine pairs with which cheese, and the combinations can be endless and sometimes surprising. But if you would like to try serving cheese and fruit with wine in place of that chocolate cake,
Here are some suggestions:
-Simple white wines (unoaked) generally go better with cheese. Here, we are looking for fewer tannins in the wine to interfere with the cheese. If you want to use a red wine, go for a lighter one.
-The richer cheeses can hold up to a more full-bodied wine, like an oaked Chardonnay, or Cabernet.
-Pairing wine and cheese from the same region works well, say, a Parmesan with a Chianti.
-Riesling goes with almost any cheese. Don't ask me why.
As for cheeses, they come roughly in these categories:
Soft- like Brie, Camembert, St. Andre'
Semi-soft-like Fontina, Havarti, and Gouda
Firm- like Cheddar, Jarlsberg, Swiss, Double Gloucester
Hard- like Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago
Blue Veined- like Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzolas
It's not necessary to serve all the different categories of cheeses at one sitting, one cheese, or two cheeses from different categories should suffice.
Just as certain wines pair well with certain cheeses, certain fruits pair well with certain chesses.
Apples and pears
Stone fruits like apricots, peaches, plums
Tropical fruits like mango (not pineapple...)
So here are some suggestions for pairings. Choose two cheeses for a dinner party with accompanying fruit and wine, or stick to one cheese with fruit and wine for more intimate meals.
Soft cheese like Brie or Camembert with cherries or mangoes, and a big oaky Chardonnay
Semi-soft cheese like Muenster or Port Salut with apricots, plums or cantaloupes with a Gewürztraminer
Semi-firm like Gruyère or Emmenthal with apples and walnuts with a medium oaked Chardonnay
Goat cheese with pears or strawberries with a crisp Chenin Blanc
Blue veined cheese with figs, dried fruit, or dates with a sweet, dessert wine or port (heaven)
Bringing out a simple cheese plate with some wine and fruit can be an elegant, yet homey way to end the meal. Enjoy passing around the cheese platter with fruit and set the bottle of wine on the table. Relax and enjoy the end of your work day, and have fun experimenting with your own pairings.