If you’re in your twenties and fresh out of college, the days of drinking ’til you’re dizzy or stumbling in your heels are kinda coming to a close. With age comes maturity and taste level… or so they say.
But you don’t become Olivia Pope overnight. Wine and cheese pairings aren’t exactly common knowledge for the average twenty-something. Enter David Morris, Master Sommelier at Jean-Georges Restaurant in NYC. He’s one of the most highly trained wine connoisseurs in the world. I sought David out for basic, workable wine-and-cheese knowledge that would give me the appearance of experience in fancy wine boozing. Scroll on to read his tips.
B+C: What are the most basic facts adults should know about wine and cheese pairings?
DM: “I think the most important things to consider are flavor intensity and texture. It is most important to match these aspects to ensure a quality pairing. Richer, fuller wines require a richer, fuller cheese. I think a really easy way to look at it are regional pairings. It’s not crazy to think that the wines and the cheese produced in the same region will taste wonderful together — this is the way the world works. What grows together goes together. Then you can shake it up, perhaps by taking the same grape from a different region of the world to see how they react. Usually you’ll be successful.”
B+C: What are some good go-to combos of wine and cheese for a last-minute party or get-together?
DM: “Goat Cheese and Sauvignon Blanc, Stilton and Port, Syrah and Smoked Gouda, Triple cream and Chardonnay, Gruyere and Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer and Muenster or Epoisse, Cabernet and Aged Cheddar — any of the above!”
B+C: What “sommelier secrets” could help me appear cultured quickly?
DM: “Get to know the basics so that you are leading the conversation when you are out to dinner or at a wine shop. Pick up a book like Wine for Dummies and get to know the basic vocabulary that will help you to more accurately and thoroughly convey the kinds of wines that you want to drink. Just knowing the right words makes you look like a boss.”
B+C: What’s with the red vs. white wine debate?
DM: “It’s a matter of taste. In debates like this, there is not a right or wrong answer — it is all about personal taste. White wines are lighter, more fruity (generally), less concentrated, don’t have tannins and are generally less intense on the palate. They are clean and crisp. Red wines have a certain weight to them that some really enjoy.
There are those that think ‘bigger is better’ as their wine selections go. Red wines also have tannins, an astringent quality that comes from the skins and seeds of the grape. They cause the top of your tongue to dry out and your lips to stick to your teeth. You find them in tea, nuts and hops as well. People that only drink white wines generally do not like tannins.”
B+C: How much should I spend on a good bottle of red?
DM: “A good bottle of wine is one that you enjoy drinking, and doesn’t cause anxiety because of the price. However, you can see a pretty good jump in quality from $10 to $20 dollars.
The best advice I have is to find a wine store in the area that you live or work in and make friends with the people who work there. Hopefully they know the wines and will be able to listen to what you have to say and make recommendations based on your desired price point. Once you establish rapport and trust, they can introduce you to a whole world of selections you had never even considered before.”
B+C: How do I store wine if we didn’t finish the bottle after opening at the party?
DM: “You could just put a cork in it. You could get a bottle of Argon gas ($10) from a wine store and use that to top the bottle off with inert gas that protects the wine from oxidation. There is also the Vacu Vin ($30), which is a system that replaces a traditional cork with a rubber stopper that then allows you to pump the oxygen out of the bottle, preventing further oxidation of the wine. If you want to get really crazy, there is a device called a Coravin — it allows you to take a glass of wine out of a bottle without even removing the cork from the bottle. Pretty neat stuff.”
Do you have a favorite brand or type of wine? Tweet us @BritandCo with the hashtag #wineandcheese and let us know!
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(Photos via MTV Network, Getty)