Wine and Cheese Matching is (Generally) Gross. Discuss.

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Most people would agree that wine and cheese is the perfect pairing, but in reality, the two don’t often work together. In some cases, the combination is positively gross.

First, a disclaimer. Let us acknowledge that drinks pairing is very personal. You are, of course, entitled to do what you want, and this is as much opinion as it is science.

Still, we’re not sure who decided that cheese and wine were meant for each other, and when. Wine writer and delicious. magazine drinks editor Mike Bennie thinks it was borne from convention, fostered by lack of imagination, and encouraged by a perpetuation of classic wine and food thinking (i.e., cheese comes at the end of a meal when the heavy reds do, too). Wine educator and writer Clare Burder thinks that we took the few wine and cheese pairings that do work and concluded that they all do.

But consider this.

“When you eat cheese, you get a lactic build-up in your palate, which ends up negating a lot of the nuance in wine,” says Bennie. “If you’re drinking a big red and you have a cheddar alongside it, the creaminess of the cheddar will end up staining your palate in a way that means you won’t be able to appreciate the wine. Nor will the wine be able to cut through that creaminess in order to refresh your palate and encourage another mouthful.

“It creates a sluggish, pleasure-less experience, like stuffing cottage cheese through fishnet stockings. It’s just not the right combo in terms of the way things fit in your mouth.”

Burder agrees. “Pairing wine and cheese is largely a disservice to both,” she says, especially with wines that are high in tannin. “Tannins in wine bind with the fat in cheese, leaving everything else behind and forcing the cheese to dissolve in the wrong way in your mouth.”

Soft cheeses in particular can make red wine taste metallic, thanks to trace compounds of iron in wine which can bind to aldehydes (a type of organic compound) created during the cheese fermentation process.

Bennie and Burder both believe there are much better pairing alternatives (namely beer, cider, sake and whisky), but for those of us who want to keep the wine and cheese dream alive, it’s not completely hopeless. There are a couple of pairings that work well.

One of the most famous is Comté and Vin Jaune (“Yellow Wine” made from white Savagnin grapes), both from the Jura in France. Vin Jaune is made in a similar way to sherry (although Vin Jaune is unfortified), and like sherry and some dry vermouth, its intensity and pungency can stand up to cheese. It is, says Bennie, “the most sublime food and drink pairing in the galaxy.” It’s also a reason why we kept the bar offering at MOULD on the funky side.

More conventional wine and cheese pairings exist, too. Sauvignon Blanc and fresh goat’s cheese is a firm favourite of Burder’s, and she also believes that there’s room for success between Chardonnay (although be careful with oak) and white mould cheeses. Sparkling wine can also work really well, thanks to a hint of sweetness and the cleansing cut-through of its bubbles.

While white wines tend to be a safer bet than red, fruity reds can often do the trick, and this comes down to sugar. “The savoury, umami, salty flavours in cheese are elevated by sugar,” she says, so, like eating cheese with quince paste, pairing cheese with a wine that’s on the sweeter side can really work well.

Whatever you do though, and disclaimer aside, avoid big reds and cheddar. “The classic, men-in-suits-kind-of-dining always crescendos into a slab of cheddar and a big, thick, rich Shiraz,” says Bennie. “That is fucking horror. It’s sumos fucking. It’s no good.”

Some combinations to try:

Yarra Valley Dairy Fresh Pyramid with Sauvignon Blanc
Yarra Valley Dairy Gentle Goat with a Yarra Valley Pinot Rosé
Yarra Valley Dairy Le Jack white mould with Serrat Chardonnay (current vintage)
Yarra Valley Dairy Fresh Ashed Goats Pyramid with Dappled Appellation Chardonnay (current vintage)
Yarra Valley Dairy White Savourine with Dappled Appellation Gewurztraminer (current vintage)
Yarra Valley Dairy Yering (camembert) – Steels Gate Blanc de Blanc
Yarra Valley Dairy Bullseye + St Ronan’s Methode Traditionale Apple Cider
Binnorie Dairy Labneh or Feta with a young Hunter Valley Semillion
Comté and Vin Jaune or other oxidative wine
A washed rind cheese with red vermouth
 

Images courtesy of Yarra Valley Dairy

 

 

 

 

People’s Choice 2017

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Picking a favourite cheese at the first ever Mould: A Cheese Festival, was a bit like picking a favourite child! Each was delicious in its own way. But, you still managed to vote for your favourites. Here’s your Top Five for 2017.

  1. Shaw River Buffalo
  2. Tolpuddle Goat Cheese
  3. Milawa Cheese
  4. Bruny Island Cheese Co.
  5. Coal River Farm

Five minutes with Tivoli Road Bakery

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South Yarra’s Tivoli Road Bakery is (in our educated opinion) one of Melbourne’s best bakeries. It’s why we’ve enlisted it to be our Official Bread Partner – all the cheese boards will be sold with hunks of Tivoli Road bread – and it’ll also have a stand selling a range of goodies to eat in or take home. We caught up with the owners, Pippa and Michael James, ahead of the event.

What’s your story? What led you to open Tivoli Road Bakery??

We met working in restaurants in the UK (Michael was a chef, Pippa FOH) and after stints in London, Edinburgh and Sydney, moved to Melbourne. Michael’s cheffing career led to pastry, and then bread, which he fell in love with. Being in the right place at the right time led to us opening Tivoli Road!

Tell us about the bakery. What do you sell, what’s your specialty/ies, who are you inspired by?

It all starts with the bread, mostly sourdough. We also make a range of sweet and savoury Viennoiserie, savoury food for the breakfast and lunch crowd, doughnuts, cookies, cakes and other sweet treats. Coffee, tea, and house made sodas.

Many people inspire us – bread wise Chad Robertson from Tartine in San Francisco and Dan Lepard are amazing. There is also a wonderful community of bakers in Australia that I draw inspiration from, including (but not limited to) Emily Salkeld from Small World Bakery in Langhorn Creek, John Reid from Red Beard in Trentham, and Ian Lowe from Apiece in Launceston.

What’s your favourite bread? Why?

Spelt and honey sourdough. I love the texture and complexity of the spelt, and the flavour of the red gum honey.

What makes the perfect loaf of bread?

Great ingredients, time, patience, love…

You have a book coming out – tell us about that?

The book has recipes from every section in the bakery – sourdough, croissant pastries, savoury items and sweet treats, as well as seasonal baking like hot cross buns and Christmas puddings. We’ve also highlighted some of our awesome suppliers and what they do. It’s a broad and very detailed snapshot of what we do at the bakery and what we believe in.

What are you most looking forward to trying at Mould?

We love cheese! We can’t wait to see what Nick Haddow brings up from Bruny Island. Also Harper & Blohm’s Welsh rarebit and Maker & Monger’s aligote. We nearly drowned in aligote on a walking holiday in France years ago. So good.

Best bread and cheese pairing?

Macadamia and wattleseed sourdough with Stone & Crow’s Nightwalker.

Marrook Farm

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Tell Us Your Story!
David Marks and Heidi Fallding started farming bio-dynamically with the Australian Demeter method more than thirty years ago. David is passionate about milking cows and Heidi about making yoghurt and cheese, so about twenty years ago we built the first dairy factory on a farm in NSW and began making cultured dairy products on our farm on the Bulga Plateau in the mountains of the mid north coast of NSW. Yoghurt, quark and fetta have been our mainstays, but in the last ten years we have been making Swiss style cheeses over the summer months.
We have always prided ourselves in making the most pure and simple dairy products in small batches in the most traditional way. Our cheeses are hand made with great care.

Tell us three things about your style of cheeses and what makes them unique?
We are certified Demeter bio-dynamic farmers who believe that the simplest and purest ingredients make the best food. bio-dynamic practices care for our land and the health of our animals, which we believe is an essential ingredient of good milk. We like the fact that we both know and milk the cows and also make the products from our milk.
Our cheeses are only made over the summer and autumn months with the fresh milk from our Ayrshire/Aussie red cows.
Bulga cheese is a hard cheese, made in the style of a Swiss mountain/gruyere cheese and is matured for at least six months. We are now making Bulga with fresh raw milk. We believe we are the first certified organic/bio-dynamic dairy to be doing this.
Brinawa cheese is a semi-hard washed curd cheese, which is aged at least three months but develops a lovely strong flavour after longer maturation.

Do you have a favourite Cheese pun?
Our farm is whey out of the whey

Hard or Soft?
hard cheese always

Funniest cheese making experience?
Living on a farm , milking cows and making dairy products from our own cows milk is fun!
Some days are funnier than others!