One marriage no one can object to is the mouthwatering combination of wine and cheese. Each is delicious on its own, but when you pair the two, something magical happens.
As explained by John Jonna—who has more than 30 years of professional experience in the wine business—there are three basic principles of wine and cheese pairing: country-to-country, style-to-style, and power-to-power.
In his latest episode of Vino Talk, Jonna explores the country-to-country principle by pairing Michigan wines from Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, MI and Michigan cheeses from Old Europe Cheese in Benton Harbor, MI.
Here are Jonna’s top four Michigan wine and cheese pairings:
Reny Picot Mantoro and Cabernet Franc
Also known as “Michigan Manchego,” this Reny Picot Mantoro is made with cow’s milk instead of sheep’s milk and aged 4-6 months. The flavor profile is a delicate balance of sweet and salty, and is generally tangy with a light nuttiness. There’s also a lasting sweetness and distinct acidity that tingles as it melts on your tongue.
Arcturos Cabernet Franc is the result of premium fruit from two of Black Star Farms’ best vineyard sites. Dark skinned fruit aromas dominate the nose and are followed by flavors of blackberries, plums, and oak in the finish.
Why it Works: This wine and cheese pairing demonstrates the power-to-power principle (when you have a stronger cheese you want a stronger wine). Mantoro also has a Spanish background so it naturally pairs better with red wine.
Saint Rocco Brie and Dry Riesling
Reny Picot’s award-winning Saint Rocco Brie is a triple crème Brie containing 70% butterfat. The high percentage of butterfat is what creates a silky smooth, melt-in-your-mouth, all-out indulgent and unforgettable cheese-eating experience.
Arcturos Dry Riesling is vibrant and fresh with lush citrus and stone fruit aromas and flavors balanced by a bracing acidity. There is a voluptuous depth of fruit flavor synchronized with continuously evolving aromatics as well as a dry, crisp finish.
Why it Works: This Dry Riesling pairs well with Saint Rocco Brie because the wine has a higher acidity that cleanses the palate between bites.
Smoked Gouda and Pinot Gris
Reny Picot Smoked Gouda is creamy, buttery, salty, and boasts slightly sweet caramel undertones while the subtle smokiness adds yet another layer of intrigue to this cheese.
Arcturos Pinot Gris is crisp and complex yet refreshing with melon, delicate floral notes, and subtle minerality. There is lush fruit on both the nose and the palate, and a body that comes from well-developed, fully ripened fruit.
Why it Works: The undertones of caramel in the Smoked Gouda play nicely with the fruitiness and aromatics of the Pinot Gris.
Aged Gouda and Sur Lie Chardonnay
Reny Picot’s Gouda aged for seven months has just enough time to develop those sweet and savory dichotomous flavors, which creates a harmonious and unexpected balance of salt and sugar—like salted crème caramel.
Arcturos Chardonnay Sur Lie showcases fruit flavors of apple, citrus, and pear followed by floral notes and a great acidity to cleanse the palate. There is no oak used in the fermentation or aging, so you get the pure expression of fruit and soil in one of the great grapes of the world.
Why it Works: This Chardonnay is aged sur lie—meaning it is kept in contact with the dead yeast cells and not filtered—to further enrich the wine. The additional flavors developed by this technique elevate the additional flavors developed by the Gouda during the aging process.
Of course, sometimes the best pairings happen when you break the rules—so don’t overthink it. Remember that often the only thing that matters is that you really like the wine and the cheese and so pairing them together only seems natural. No matter what your style, a sumptuous pairing of Michigan wine and Reny Picot cheese is sensational gustatory pleasure and always a good idea.