Wine and Cheese Party

by angelika on June 25, 2011

I was honored to be asked to attend a summer wine and cheese pairing event hosted by Whole Foods and Simi Winery. The event featured the best summer value wines paired with a lovely cheese selected by the regional cheese buyer. As an avid wine consumer and someone who loves cheese almost as much as the French, I was eager to participate to say the least. The event was held at Simi Winery, and then telecast to several Whole Foods locations in the bay area so more customers could join the fun. I found the panel of tasters to be full of useful information about the wines as well as the cheeses. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and loved the wines. I now have some new favorites to add to my summer shopping list. One of my favorite parties to host is a wine and cheese cocktail party, and with these selections I have all the guesswork done for me.

When setting up a cheese board, it’s great to have a small selection of very different cheeses. I like to have one blue, one hard cheese like a cheddar, and then some sort of goat or sheep cheese that has a more pungent taste. This way you appeal to every kind of taste. I like to have a sliced fruit, like an apple or pear and a jelly of some sort. This time I had some fig jelly. Sliced warm artisan bread is also a must. We had an apricot walnut bread that was delicious. 
Another fun thing to do with a tasting party is to use the correct glass for each wine. I never did this before I met my husband, but he was a real wine enthusiast and had this whole collection of Reidel glasses, so I was converted. It is much easier to get the notes from a wine in the correct glass. I am sure there is some scientific reason why, like air to surface volume or something like that. We happen to have Montrachet Chardonnay glasses and Sauvignon Blanc glasses along with our Cabernet and Bordeaux glasses. So we…created a lot more mess and tasted out of four different glasses. 
Reidel Vinum Tasting Set at Williams Sonoma
Here are the four summer value wines we sampled from Whole Foods, along with their cheese pairings. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. 
Simi Chardonnay ($13.99) paired with Farmstead Gouda
This is a Burgundian chardonnay using a natural ferment and it is oak aged. The notes are ripe apple and pear with a touch of buttery popcorn finish. I am a big chardonnay drinker, and I loved it. I thought it went well with the gouda, but I would drink it with anything, especially on a hot day. 
Innovac!on Torrentes Pinot Grigio ($9.99) paired with UK Seaside Cheddar
This is my favortite of the four wines. It is a 1 liter bottle, so for $9.99 an incredible value. (those of us with small children know how important a good value wine is) It is an Argentinean wine made of 90% Torrentes grapes and 10% Pinot Grigio, and sustainably farmed to boot. It is very floral, food friendly, would go with almost anything. This would be an exquisite wine to make a white sangria from. The cheddar it was paired with was delicious and a wonderful match. 
Perrin Cotes du Rhone ($12.99) paired with Fourme D’Ambert
This is my least favorite of the wines, but I still found it enjoyable. It is very light, young tasting, and grown using organic practices. Very fruity notes with blackberry and cherry really coming though. If you are a BBQ kind of person this would be a great choice as a light summer red. This wine was paired with a blue cheese. I was not a big fan of this blue, but my husband devoured it. He loved this pairing, as it went more to his taste.  
Vitiano Cabernet Sauvignon Sangiovese ($11.99) paired with P’tit Basque
This is a delicious Tuscan blend. Medium bodied, nice rich fruit with plum and cherry notes. It is also a gorgeous deep red color with a really enticing bouquet. I really enjoyed this wine, it wasn’t overly tannic like some cabs can be. I think it would pair nicely with a lot of food. The experts recommended pairing it with grilled salmon. The cheese it was paired with is a P’tit Basque, which is one of my favorite sheep cheeses. It is a nice semi firm cheese with a delicious nutty flavor. I thoroughly enjoyed it with this wine, and with the apple slices. Cheese and apples being among my favorite snacks. 
A big thank you to Whole Foods San Rafael for donating the wine and cheese, and for having all around excellent customer service. I was not compensated for this review in any way, I just had a great experience and wanted to share it with all of you. 
A votre santé! 

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