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Some things just go together: Chips and dip. Wings and sauce. Sundays and football games. And, of course, wine and cheese.
Sure, wings and salty snacks are a staple of Super Bowl parties, but that doesn’t mean that wine and cheese can’t be part of the celebration, especially as Americans become more knowledgeable and enthusiastic about artisanal wine and cheese pairings. Wine and cheese pairings are a popular part of romantic Valentine’s Day dinners, too. And progressive grocers know this, which is why they employ associates who know specialty cheeses and cross-merchandise pairings with their wine and spirits departments.
Bridlewood Winery, a 40-acre estate vineyard in Santa Ynez, Calif., offers its tips for the best matchups between its wines and artisanal cheeses, for big parties as well as small plates. First, according to Bridlewood’s “wine ambassador” and cheese and wine pairing expert Lindsey Jessup, offering a variety of cheeses allows guest contrasting tastes and textures. "By balancing the variety of flavors, you'll have a dynamic and complete cheese plate that can be the perfect complement to your wine selections,” she explains.
To start with, Jessup suggests four different cheeses to offer guests balance: an aged, hard rind cheese, a soft ripened cheese, a blue cheese and a mild cow’s milk cheese. For the accompanying wines, she offers up her expert playbook:
• Mild and hard cheeses match a wider range of wines than soft, ripe or mature cheeses
• In general, white wine may pair more easily with a wider range of cheeses
• More tannic red wines pair better with harder cheeses