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ROCHESTER, NY -- Wegmans Food Markets has just rolled out private label brie cheeses in three flavor profiles -- mild, medium, and intense -- and is introducing Fromage Flights, consisting of cheese and other food accompaniments, for the 2007 entertaining season.
Since selecting a soft-ripened cheese such as brie can be more complicated than choosing other cheeses, due to factors including degree of ripeness and method of making the cheese, "We wanted a simple way to help customers find the flavors they preferred, so our people could help them find the right choice that would be fully ripe when the customer was planning to serve it," noted Wegmans Cheese Shop group manager Cathy Gaffney.
The brie cheeses are made in France by cheesemakers whose products have been carried at Wegmans stores for years. The mild brie with a milky taste is the Fromager D'Affinois brand, the medium brie with a buttery flavor is the Marquis de Lafayette brand, and the intense brie, with an earthy flavor similar to that of Camembert, is the Le Chatelain brand. Prices for the three cheeses run between $10 and $13 per pound.
The wrapped Fromage Flights come with instructions on how to plate and serve eight people equal cheese courses and accompaniments.
In addition to the Brie Flight, which features all three of the Wegmans-brand flavor-profiled brie cheeses, plus caramelized walnuts, craisins, and 34 Degrees brand Spiced Cherry Fruit Spread, the line consists of the following Holiday pairings: Stilton and dried apricots, Denhay Farmhouse English Cheddar with caramelized walnuts, Delice de Bourgogne (a triple-crËme cow's milk cheese) with 34 Degrees Spiced Cherry Fruit Spread. The Brie and Holiday cheese flights cost $39.99 each.
In other Wegmans news, the retailer is facing some obstacles in its quest to sell liquor in some Pennsylvania and New Jersey stores.
David Shipula, president of the Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania has taken issue with Wegmans store manager Blaine Forkell's alleged inference that Pennsylvania residents were in "dark ages" regarding beer sales. "It's apparent from quotes attributed to their Warrington [Pa.] store manager, Blaine Forkell, that they see most Pennsylvanians as morally and socially misguided," retorted Shipula in a statement. The state bans beer sales where food or gasoline is sold, and the association opposes changing that legislation.
Elsewhere, although the Wegmans in Cherry Hill, N.J. has acquired a liquor license and is now planning a store-within-a-store concept at the location, but a report by the Cherry Hill Courier Post notes that a 1995 town ordinance mandates that alcohol be sold only in standalone liquor stores. On Dec. 27 the township council is scheduled to approve an amendment to the ordinance that will define "standalone" as a completely separate establishment with its own outside entrance. Wegmans spokeswoman Jeanne Colleluori told the paper that the retailer was unaware of the ordinance and would have to review it before commenting.
Family-owned Wegmans operates 71 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.