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Red, Wine, and Blue

Hook's Blue
Hook's Blue
Courtesy of

In my last few articles, I dove into some excellent white wine and cheese pairings.  As the season cools with autumn air, it’s time to discover some reds and their “meatier” cheeses.  As the whites, these were all tasted as part of House Red’s and Marion Street Cheese Market’s wine-cheese tasting partnership.


There were three reds matched with three cheeses.  The first pairing was a Pinot Noir from Australian brand Kim Crawford, but renamed as the new venture Mud House.  Mud House Pinot Noir is from New Zealand’s Central Otago region, and reminded me of the taste of Raisinets, a combination of dried sweet fruit with a hint of chocolate.  As a new release from woman winemaker Nadine Worley, it was an excellent find.  It was complemented by an equally new discovery of cheese—a French cheddar variety called Salers that was a favorite of the court of Louis XIV in the 17th century.  Salers is a cow’s milk cheese (and the name of the cows themselves!) whose diet of wild flowers and grass give the cheese a nutty, earthy flavor.  Taken together, the Mud House (New World wine) and Salers (an Old World cheese) married well, two strong players balanced by the other like Thelma and Louise or Butch and Sundance.


 We also tasted a 2007 Sonoma Valley Cabernet called ‘E” from the Enkidu Winery and the modern name and its purpley onyx color reminded me of one of those black velvet paintings that try to look opulent but are really kitschily approachable.  It matched with a domestic Vermont white cheddar—Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.  It’s attributed with drawing attention to the state’s artisanal cheeses and allowing them to blossom—offering significant financial and distribution support for smaller creameries.  It’s hard for me to not like a cheddar, and Cabot’s crumbly, melt on your mouth creaminess was truly unique.


I would be remiss to not introduce a blue cheese here, as a classic red wine pairing, and our tasting did not disappoint in this regard.  We tried Hook’s Cheese Company’s Blue Paradise, a Wisconsin-made double cream--meaning it is made with milk fortified with cream in the cheese making process.  While a port wine is often matched with blue cheeses as a dessert course, we tasted it with a Shiraz from Italy’s Orvieto region.  Typically Shiraz (or Syrah, depending on where it comes from) is attributed to Australia or France, so I loved the novelty of it coming from Italy.  Coming from the Casale del Giglio estate in the Lazio region about 15 miles from Rome, it had a smooth palate with a unique hint of earthy, spicy clove that,  much like the Pinot/Salers matching, brought two strong players together in a pairing better than its parts alone.


In the chilly autumn air, warm up with these reds and explore the journey of these excellent cheese discoveries.  They can be found at House Red and Marion Street Cheese market, and on-line.