Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
- Vermont Bijou
The deft hand that goes into making these elegant, lighter-bodied styles of pinot noir require cheeses that won't act like sledge-hammers in the presence of such delicacy. Don't be fooled, though. These wines have a backbone, which is why they go with a variety of cheese styles rather than just one or two.
Look for cheeses that range from slightly creamy to semi-firm and are not too salty. Cow, sheep, or goat's milk cheeses are all compatible.
Here are some examples of cheeses that make particularly good companions for this style of wine. If you can't find these cheeses, try and find similar ones based on these descriptions.
Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery "Bijou" - This surface-ripened goat's milk cheese made in Vermont has earthy yet slightly tangy flavors and a faintly chalky texture. Its overall texture is light, bright, and dense but not heavy.
Manchego - The unofficial national cheese of Spain, this sheep's milk cheese is sold when it's very young all the way through to a long-aged, nutty and salty version. For this style of wine, a younger Manchego - three to four months - is best.
Gruyère - The Swiss and American versions of this complex cheese are equally stellar and particularly compatible with lighter-style pinot noir because of the cheese's hints of fruit and nuts. These characteristics join beautifully with the red fruit and earthy characteristics of these wines.
Thin oil-brushed baguette slices, toasted, lightly toasted almonds, Castelvetrano olives (or any other mild, meaty and not too briny green olive)
Goat Cheese-Cranberry Crostini
Brush ¼-inch thick baguette slices with olive oil and toast until golden brown. Spread with fresh goat cheese and top with chopped dried cranberries and a light sprinkling of finely chopped tarragon. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve.
Laura Werlin is one of the foremost authorities on cheese in the United States. She is the award-winning author of five books on the subject, a sought-after speaker at food and wine events, a spokesperson for consumer and trade organizations, and a frequent television and radio guest.
Each of Laura's books has been honored with domestic and international awards including the James Beard award for her book The All American Cheese and Wine Book, She has just finished her latest book, Grilled Cheese, Please, which will be released in March 2011.
Werlin is known for her approachable yet authoritative teaching style and is frequently asked to speak at prestigious events, most notably the annualFood & Wine Magazine Classic at Aspen, the South Beach Food & Wine Festival, the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, and the Artisan Cheese Festival in Sonoma County in California. She is also a regular instructor at the Cheese School of San Francisco.
Laura's website is laurawerlin.com