The Golden Rule doesn’t exist
In recent years both wine and cheese have changed greatly.
The trend today is towards white wine as a replacement of red wine with cheese, especially if it has an even, soft white texture.
Until the eighties the tendency was to prefer red wine (catapulted by the emphasis on the cardiac beneﬁts of red wine, vis-à-vis white wine, due toa higher tannincontent).
Coexisting research on habits has shown that people choose their combi- nation of cheese/wine, ﬁrst due to family tradition. Later, during college years, the palate opens up to its surroundings. It’s a period for observation and fre- quent testing and trialing.
Once past the thirties, taste is deﬁned and becomes consolidated. Travels tender an important inﬂuence. Twenty years on, taste is more mature and requires regular updating, traversing the three colors: white, rose, and red.
During adulthood both the diner and the taster conﬁrm that our grandpar- ents were very savvy; then individual rules are made, which later on, hispart- ner will surelymodify.
Avail yourself of great allies for your enjoyment
In the happy combination of cheese and wine, allies are needed. Bread is the ﬁrst one, and you already know which one not to offer. The other, artisa- nal one, led to the bread+ tomato combination in Spain and Italy that function as a tray or sandwich for any conceivable combination.
Recommendation: try with white, rose and young reds. Extra virgin olive oil is the second one you should consider. It offers aromas, taste and color.
The third ally in your enjoyment are regional combinations.
Try those created by regional afﬁnity or contrast. Both cheese and wine have an agricultural origin, and speciﬁc, ﬁnite, typical characteristics.
Worldwide gourmet culture has as a starting point for the enjoyment of differences, that segmentation of territories in all the renowned wine produc- ers.
Combining cheese, wine and bread can be accomplished by anyone; but those who try regional pairings stand out, dazzle and make a difference.
Ambience is the point
A table set with cheese, wine and bread only needs ambience; not décor, just ambience, a staging that can go from rusticity to elegance with anever- present personaltouch.
Rules of harmony are not written on stone, or on paper; common sense alone will do:
-No deluxe glasses, just the adequate ones for the chosen wine.
-Are decanters necessary? If you have them, it’s ﬁne, but remember, the serv- ing temperature is what’s essential; hence, in order to preserve its coolness, it’s better to keep it in its own bottle.
Themostfrequentmistakesinambience:defectivecorkscrews;paper,not cloth napkins; scarce bread; not offering water; wines that become warm as the eveningprogresses.
Alberto Soria Writer / Journalist specialized in Gastronomy, Wines and Spirits / University Professor