Tuesday, October 07, 2008

There's a Story in Every Sip...

Our most excellent field trip, part 2...

Note: Very long post below about the wine and cheese pairings we four were introduced to. If this just isn't your thing - I know long posts aren't for everyone, nor is learning about ~pairings~, please just enjoy the photos of this most gorgeous part of our state of CT - and there's more in the slideshow to the right if you're so inclined. Thx., abb.
Looking outside the barn (& art gallery) door...

Well, it's true...you really can teach an old Velveeta Girl new tricks! Catch up with yesterday's post and you'll know that four of we ladies had a wonderful time at The Silo while participating in a Wine & Cheese Pairing Class (Check out Mental P's post as well). Our class was taught by the incomparable sommelier, Carol Berman, founder of Class in a Glass/The Traveling Sommelier

Carol presented us with 5 different wine and cheese pairings. First, she had us swirl the wine in our glass and then sniff the bouquet it gave off. (There is an ~excellent~ photo of moi sniffing said bouquet here. I took that job very seriously!) Carol led us in discovering the subtle scents each wine gave off...citrus...black cherry...almond...we found each wine had its own noticeably different bouquet, even to our untrained nostrils.
We were then instructed to take a sip of the wine and literally treat it as if it were mouth wash so it could hit every bit of our palates. Each of the five wines were completely different. Some were quite lovely on first sip, others so acidic they were almost unpleasant. 
Next we were told to take a bite of the matching cheese, either on a small piece of toast or by itself. Hmm...that first bite was good each time (even for me!), but did it ever get a lot better when we were instructed to follow the second bite of cheese with a quick sip of wine so the two melded together in our mouths. WOW! What a difference in the flavors of both the cheese and the wine! Quite a surprise to we novice wine & cheese tasters!  

First we tasted a very light white wine, Pierre Boniface, Apremont, 2007 (about $13.99/bottle). It was from Savoie in the French Alps. Carol paired it with Reblochon cheese. This is a French cow's milk cheese that is similar in appearance (only) to Brie, but so much better. The wine had definite lemon-lime overtones. Those citrus overtones were definitly calmed when taken with a taste of the creamy and slightly nutty cheese. Delicious! 

Second, we tasted one of the best white wines I've ever had the pleasure of sipping - Domaine Bott-Geyl, Pinot d'Alsace, 2004 (about $15.99/bottle).  I am a dyed-in-the-wool Chardonnay sipper. I've been forever ruined by this wonderful wine! Even upon first sip, it was good. Then we paired it with one of the best cheeses I've ever tasted, namely Lamb Chopper, (yep, that's the name of the cheese), a sheep's milk cheese that is made in Europe for Cypress Grove in Sonoma, CA.  Both the cheese, which was similar in texture to Swiss cheese, but so much smoother in taste, and the wine were perfect on their own...together, they were simply sublime. 

Third, was a very robust wine from Italy that upon first sip was so acidic it was nearly unpleasant. Carol warned us of this, but said to give it a chance because when it was eaten with the chosen cheese, it turned into something wonderful. She also said this is a wine that needs to breath as that only makes it better. Barbera d'Asti, (Tre Vigna, 2006), Piedmont, Italy (about $16.99/bottle), produced by Vietti was paired with a cow's milk Raschera also from Piedmont, Italy. Carol told us that cheeses and wines that come from the same area of a country more often than not make excellent pairings. Makes sense. The cheese was semi-hard, but with a flavor of it's own that wasn't at all like a Parmesan or Romano. Again, a bite of cheese with a mouthfull of wine...totally changed the flavors to one of the sublime.

Fourth was a Spanish red that was not as heavy as the Italian red we tried, but that still had a real presence. Dexcendientes de J. Palacios, Petalos, 2006 (about $23.99/bottle) from Bierzo, Spain was paired with a semi-hard Spanish sheep's milk cheese, Zamarano, Castilla y Leon that was, in my mind at least, the Spanish version of a very good Parmesan. Different, but in the same family. Again, wine and cheese were good on their own. When enjoyed together, both changed and became wonderful! 

The fifth and last wine was a huge surprise! When Carol poured it in our glasses, we all noticed the bubbles and the fact that though it was a red wine, it was chilled.  Never had any of us seen anything like that! We took our first taste and all of us were a bit perplexed as it wasn't anything we were expecting. However, we then took a bite of the cheese and all was well in the universe! What a combination the two of them were. This Italian wine was a Tenute Pederzana, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castlevetro, 2007 (about $17.99/bottle) from Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Strange at first, but when paired with the glorious cow's milk Stravecchio Parmesan Cheese - from Wisconsin (!!), the rediculous became the sublime. I do think this was my favorite...well, that Pinot d'Alsace w/Lambchopper was over the top as well.  (This and the Pinot d'Alsace will be on our Thanksgiving table this year as per Carol's recommendation.)  

Needless to say, we all learned many things - the most important that there really is wine beyond chardonnay and so many delicious cheeses beyond Velveeta! (My mom and sis will be so proud of me! They both think I'm a cheese wimp. They could be correct.)  Carol did a most excellent job educating our novice palates. How will we ever go back to our one-wine, Velveeta cheese days? (Actually I'm the only one that would return to Velveeta - my friends are much more evolved.)  

This was my first experience with The Silo Cooking School and it just makes me (actually all of us) want to go back for more! We four had such a good time! A great theme led by a ~teacher~ who was not only knowledgeable, but a whole lot of fun to learn from! 

We'll be back!   

All of the cheeses we tasted are readily available at 
Whole Foods Market.
The wines, at fine wine stores.

Entrance to The Silo :

expect anything!


  1. What a wonderful summation. I think we now know enough to be a little dangerous...at a cocktail party. It really was one of the best days, ever;)

  2. I love this post! I thought it was really interesting, and I would love to do something like this. I'm glad you gave the details of the wine and cheese; it would be kind of fun to even try some of these pairings at home. Of course, it would be a lot more fun on a Girls' Day Out at The Silo but, hey, you make due with what you have :).

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. what a fun time. sounds like alot of wine. I always go to the store and tell them I like a cheap pink wine that is sweet and not bitter, think I would fit in there lol..??

    Big horn sheep and mt goats have horns not antlers they don't shed, the only strange one is the pronghorn antelope, they do shed the caps of their horns.. ;-)
    Antlers shed yearly, horns stay for life.. hope this helps..

  4. I have never been to Connecticut. It's lovely!

    Glad you had such a good time at the tasting!

  5. Sounds like this is something both my husband and I would enjoy.

    Bear((( )))

  6. In April... :O) Sounds like a lovely time! I've not been to anything like that.

  7. Are the sale pieces still to the right of that door .. there in the rounded part of the silo?

    LOVE The Silo ... and what the Hendersons did for the area


  8. ah. more wine and cheese. :) really should try this.

  9. OK! I want to be sitting at that table in the top photo looking out at that beauty with some wine and cheese Oh! and maybe a little bread :0)

  10. I agree wholeheartedly w/ Ellen B. Sounds great to me!!!

  11. I knew you lived in the East, but not CT. No one there makes fun of your for your Velveeta thing? I was always afraid to mention my mother's Velveeta thing to my St. Louis friends!

    I'm loving this place. Terrific post!

  12. Thank you for the lovely, afforable recommendations!


Thank you for taking the time to leave a thought. It's appreciated! xoabb