Experts' knowledge

Brief information about cheese

Cheese is a milk product occurring when casein, a milk protein, coagulates. The longer a cheese is ripening, the more water it loses, and the harder it becomes. The German Cheese Regulation divides cheese into groups, depending on the water content in the fat-free mass: from soft cheese to hard cheese. Moreover, cheeses are differentiated according to the milk that they are made of: sheep milk, goat milk, or cow milk.

Where are the holes from?

They are produced by lactic acid bacteria and heat during fermentation; blisters are formed by carbon dioxide, then they burst and leave holes.

Is the rind eatable?

Natural rind is almost always eatable – unless you are from France. The French insist in removing the rind. In the end, it is a question of taste. Only when there is a warning on the cheese that the rind was treated by natamycene (a conservative) it is recommended not to eat it.

How does mold develop?

White mold is caused by penicillium candidum, a mushroom. Sprayed on the loaf, it gives brie its champignon-like taste. The blue-greenish mold comes from the penicillium roqueforti mushroom.

 

Cheese categorized

Cream cheese is white, creamy, and mild. Quark, ricotta, mozzarella, or goat cream cheese are counted among them. They should be stored cool and be used up soon.

Soft cheese ripens from outside in within one or two months. It is usually flat with a creamy and buttery consistency. Brie cheese and camembert with their typical fine mushroom layer are counted among them. A brie cheese and blue pinot noir – will make you as happy as never before.

Semi-hard cheese is various and is called semi-hard because it can be cut into slices. Gouda, Appenzeller, and similar sorts containing 30 to 50% fat in dry matter are counted among them. Raclette is a semi-hard cheese, too. Why don’t you once again invite friends to a raclette and open a bottle of silvaner, pinot blanc, or chasselas. Your guests will be enthusiastic.

Hard cheeses have a hard consistency and ripened very long. Broken into pieces like parmesan or grated like emmentaler, it is often used to scallop a meal. We recommend rather to buy a piece of it and to grate it yourself when needed. As a reward for your pain, you will get the full aroma. Parmigiano reggiano can easily be stored in a small burlap bag – and cooled, of course.

Blue-veined cheeses get their blue-greenish mold from penillium roqueforti; so roquefort is counted among them, too. Soft or semi-hard representatives of this category are also called fine mushroom cheeses. Combine blue-veined cheese with fresh baguette and a glass of pinot gris beerenauslese (selction of berries), and you can serve a vesper deluxe (vesper = rustic dinner in Baden and Swabia).

Time to enjoy: the perfect cheese platter

For the perfect delight, choose a special cheese from the special retailer. Don’t forget to take it out of the fridge and to remove the packaging early enough because the oxygen supports the development of the aromas, like in wine. The ideal serving temperature for cheese is between 15 and 20°C. Lay a moist cloth over the plate until to the meal so as to prevent the cheese from drying out.

Now let’s talk about the configuration of the sorts. Imagine a clock-face, position the mildest cheese at “twelve o’clock”, like cream cheese, and slowly increase the intensity, for instance, with nutty hard cheese and ripe camembert, followed by red smear cheese and powerful blue-veined cheese like gorgonzola.

Serve the cheese platter together with bright or dark bread – and, of course, with the matching wine. Take also care about the right temperature. As a rule of thumb can be said: Sparkling wines are served at 6 to 8°C, light fresh white wines at 8 to 10°c, spicy semi-dry white wines at 9 to 12°C, rosé wines need a temperature of 9 to 11°C, light fresh red wines need 12 to 15°C, powerful, full-bodied red wines 15 to 17°C, the ideal temperature for sweet wines is 10 to 12°C. There is one point that often is forgotten: The wine is warmed up by 1 to 2°C when poured out.

 

Dreamteam cheese and wine – how they can find each other.

According to the five tastes we humans can perceive, there are some rules that should be considered. Depending on the taste dominating in a given cheese or wine, there is a matching partner – or not. Here our two taste heroes present themselves quite human.

Acidity. Cheeses with a pronounced acidity, like goat cream cheese, often neutralize the perception of the acidity in a wine. As a result, semi-sweet wines easily lose balance. Wines with fresh acidity, like dry Rieslings or Müller-Thurgaus, are the right choice.

Sweet taste. If both the wine and the cheese are sweet, the sweetness of the wine and the sweetness of the cheese neutralize each other. So the cheese should be as sweet as the wine – or at least not sweeter. This should be considered above all for hard cheese, for instance Gouda, above all in combination with sweet side dishes, or sauces like fig mustard.

Salt. Blue-veined cheese, pecorino, or sheep cheese (pickled in brine) show a pronounced saltiness. A wine with a pronounced acidity can easily appear hard. A mild, juicy drop, for instance pinot gris or chardonnay, match much better. Or you could try if the fruity sweetness of selections is a fine counterweight to the salty cheese.

Bitter taste. Slowly ripened sorts like cave cheese often appear bitter, and combined with the bitterns and acidity of the wine they easily become unpleasant. So you better should do without tannin rich red wines or dry white wines. Elegant powerful wines like a traditional pinot noir from Baden are the better choice. The wine can be intense – but with as few tannins as possible.

Umami. This fifth, less-known quality of taste intensifies the perception of bitterns and acidity in a wine. So they often appear metallically when combined with full-bodied cheeses. We recommend smoother red wines with a juicy fruit, like pinot meunier, rosé, or even a sparkling wine with pronounced acidity.

Harmony for your palate

Here we have compiled some approved combinations out of cheese and wine for you, literally with a delight guarantee. Have fun with it! 

  • Swiss Appenzeller with Auxerrois
  • French brie with blue pinot noir
  • French chaource with pinot blanc
  • Old Dutch Gouda with a ripe Riesling late harvest
  • French livarot with traminer
  • German romadur with pinot meunier or pinot noir
  • French roquefort with rulaender selection of berries