It’s Wine Month in Virginia, and all that happy swirling and sipping is bound to make you hungry; and let’s face it: What goes better with a glass of wine than a wedge of fine cheese? It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned wine-and-cheese aficionado or an amateur taste tester: With a little knowledge, you can easily master the art of pairing these two culinary delights, which bring out the very best in one another.
More good news: Given the caliber of the Commonwealth vintners and cheesemakers, Virginia’s the perfect place to launch your epicurean journey—or if you’re already an expert, to get to know our outstanding local products firsthand. In this blog post, we’re laying the groundwork for you with four commonly adored and universally palatable local wines and cheeses. What are you waiting for? There’s some beautiful Wine Month pairings to be had!
White Wine: Early Mountain Wine’s 2016 Chardonnay Reserve
Even though chardonnay is among the most popular table wines in the U.S. these days, it’s not typically the first choice for pairing with cheeses. Why? Well, chardonnays often have very oaky undertones that can become overly strong when they’re amplified by the similarly rich and creamy taste in many cheeses. Fortunately, that’s a nonissue with the 2016 Chardonnay Reserve, which, as Early Mountain Wine notes, “walks the line between a fresh-fruited, low-oak style and a creamy, barrel-fermented style.”
Red Wine: White Barrel Winery’s Chambourcin
If there’s a more romantic beverage on Earth than a classic, sultry glass of red wine, well, we’d like to know about it. White Barrel Winery’s delicious Chambourcin, which tantalizes the taste buds with its “vibrant cherry undertones,” makes it an ideal, antioxidant- rich red to pair with a Virginia cheese.
Sparkling Wine: Afton Mountain Vineyard’s Sparkling Bollicine
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes join forces in Afton Mountain Vineyard’s Bollicine, a wonderful Virginia brut made in the Champagne style. This effervescent winner is the perfect complement to a feta.
Dessert Wine: Abingdon Vineyard & Winery’s 2014 Creekside Blush
Rosé wine is definitely having a moment. The summer’s most popular libation for preppy partygoers, a nice chilled glass of rosé now lands on the menu for all-out autumn enjoyment. The Creekside Blush boasts a light and energetic flavor—and just a touch of welcome bite.
Caromont Farm: Bloomsbury
Made from top-grade Jersey Milk from North Garden’s Silky Cow Farm, Caromont Farm’s Bloomsbury is a luscious, buttery brie-like cheese that’s downright lovely going tag-team with a nice white or fruity red.
Goats-R-Us Cheese: Camembert
Nothing like a soft, oozing camembert to make happy hour with a glass of Virginia vino head straight into heavenly territory. Goats-R-Us over in Blackstone makes a fantastic farmstead camembert from the fresh milk of its charming gaggle of goats.
Sullivan’s Pond Farm: Sandy Bottom
A standout among Sullivan’s Pond Farm’s artisanal goats-milk cheeses, the irresistible Sandy Bottom has a creamy semisoft texture and a zesty black-pepper crust.
Wine & Cheese Pairing Chart
Salivating yet? Yeah, we figured. It’s time to test out your pairing chops with this wine & cheese pairing chart, courtesy of Wine Enthusiast Magazine. With this handy tool, pairing Virginia’s world-class wines and cheeses is easy as can be. Feel free to reference it during your next wine tour to impress all your friends – and if you’re loving a specific combo be sure to share it with us on social media using #vafoodie. Now go track down some of those culinary matches made in heaven the Commonwealth specializes in!
WANT MORE LOCAL WINES AND CHEESES? CHECK OUT OUR “DRINK LIST” AND “EAT LIST.” FOR MORE IDEAS ON CELEBRATING WINE MONTH IN VIRGINIA, READ OUR ON-THE-ROAD FEATURE HERE.