August Cheese Club: Iowa

cheese_club_logo-1240x1240Abondance CheeseAbondance AOP
Rodolphe Le Meunier
Haute-Savoie, France

Abondance, is a semi-hard, traditionally French, mountain cheese produced in the Abondance Valley of Haute Savoie, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. The cheese is made exclusively from unpasteurized cow’s milk sourced from its own breed of cattle, Abondance, as well as Taurine and Montbéliarde. Abondance features a slightly grainy and creamy paste with floral, vegetal, and nutty aromas. On the palate, there’s a beautiful balance of sweetness to acidity; it tastes intensely fruity and buttery with a hazelnut flavor.  Before eating, remove the natural rind its gray layer underneath.

WINE & CRAFT BEER PAIRINGS:
Abondance cheese pairs wonderfully with a dry white wine from the Savoie region; or a light red, such as a Gamay Beaujolais or a light Pinot Noir.  Additionally, this cheese pairs well a crisp, pale lager or a kolsch.

WINESTYLES: Crisp and Fruity
BEERSTYLES: Crisp and Clean

PRODUCTION:
Abondance cheese has had an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) designation since 1990.  AOC designations were created to ensure products with long histories and strong senses of terroir will guard their identity and uniqueness in the marketplace. With this designation, a cheese producer cannot call a cheese Abondance if it is not made within the confines of a singular region, or according to traditional methods and specifications, similar to wine AOCs like Bordeaux, Bourgogne, and Champagne.

Abondance was originally made by monks at the Abbaye d’Abondance (Abondance Abbey) in the 12th century. In the late 1300s, the monks were the official supplier of cheeses to the Avignon popes. This rich, ivory-yellow cheese is made in the area’s mountain chalets from batches of raw milk that combine morning milk with milk from the previous evening. The milk is heated in a copper cauldron to 90° F to warm the curd that is formed, without cooking it. The curd is then cut, drained, put into a round wooden mold, and pressed for a day with a weight on it. It is then salted either by hand, or soaked in brine, then cave aged on spruce planks for six months at a temperature of 54° F and a humidity level of 95%. The cheese is brushed with brine and turned while aging.

Tomme d’Abondance

Comté Fort Saint-Antoine CheeseComté Fort Saint Antoine
Marcel Petite
Jura, France

Comté Fort Saint Antoine is a semi-firm, unpasteurized, aged, cow’s milk cheese from the Jura and Franche-Comté regions of Eastern France. Century-old techniques are used to make Comté, which is the most produced and consumed cheese in France. Made with unpasteurized cow’s milk, from Montbeliarde Cattle or French Simmental (or crossbreeds of the two), the taste is complex, nutty and caramelized with a lingering, but not sharp, flavor. The combination of sweetness and saltiness give this cheese an intriguing flavor. This mature Comté is firm but supple, with a buttery and oily texture. It is traditionally sold in huge blocks and matures for a year before it is ready for sale. The natural cave atmosphere of the fort allows this longer aged Comté to have a rich, nutty, fruitier and more flowery taste than its younger aged counterparts. Considered one of the finest cheeses in the world, a wedge of Comte reveals a pale yellow interior and a texture that can vary from silky, flabby to crystalline.

WINE & CRAFT BEER PAIRING: Comté Cheese is very versatile and pairs beautifully with a Chablis (Chardonnay), a Champagne, or a Pinot Noir. It also pairs well with a light lager, a blonde ale, or a pilsner.

WINESTYLES: Silky, Bubbly and Mellow
BEERSTYLES: 
Crisp and Clean

PRODUCTION:

In 1966, Marcel Petite discovered a defunct military fort in a forest of Haut Doubs, at 3600 feet altitude. The fort’s structure of cut and vaulted stone, covered with a thick layer of soil, providing ideal conditions for “affinage lent” (slow maturing). Petite realized that his Comté cheeses should be aged in their natural environment, near the mountain cheese dairies where they are made. This hard mountain cheese is matured to perfection in the silence and darkness of special caves where the cheese gets its unique taste, texture and color. There are several maturing cellars in the region where Comté is ripened for a minimum of 4 months to 18 or 24 months. Comté generally will get its name from the cellar where it was ripened, such as Comté Fort Saint-Antoine. Today, over 100,000 wheels are ripened for 10 to 20 months, in the Cathedral of Marcel Petite Comté.

Comté was one of the first few kinds of cheese to receive an AOC status in 1958. It is one of the most popular AOC cheeses in France with around 40,000 tons of annual production.

Comté Cheese Production

© Comté Marcel Petite

Comté Production

© Comté Marcel Petite

 

Monthly Cheese ClubDon’t let your Wine Club go home alone!

Join our Cheese Club and bring home a match made in heaven!

If you enjoy pairing cheese with wine, this is your club!  Each month you’ll discover specialty and artisan cheeses to pair with your Wine Club. Monthly cheese selections are chosen by your local WineStyles participating location. It’s the perfect opportunity to Taste, Learn and Enjoy® amazing artisan cheese every month! Only $19.99/month and your wine won’t be lonely!  Click to learn more >

July Cheese Club: Iowa

cheese_club_logo-1240x1240Iberico BonvallisBonvallis – Iberico Cheese
Valladolid, Spain

Bonvallis Iberico Cheese is a Manchego-style cheese, one of the most eaten in Spain. An authentic Iberico Cheese must have, by law, a maximum of 50% cow’s milk, a minimum of 15% goat’s milk, and a minimum of 15% sheep’s milk. If these amounts are not specified on the label, the cheese cannot be labeled ‘Iberico’. Bonvallis Iberico Cheese is compact and firm in texture. It features herby, grassy flavors from the goat and ewe milk, and a smooth, creamy texture from the cow’s milk. It is slightly lactic, yet mild and buttery on the palate; making this cheese tasty and aromatic.

WINE & CRAFT BEER PAIRINGS:
Bonvallis Iberico Cheese pairs wonderfully with wines from our Bubbly wine style category, such as a Cava. Additionally, Iberico cheese pairs well with our Fruity & Spicy beers, such as a cider.

WINESTYLES: Bubbly
BEERSTYLES: Fruity & Spicy

PRODUCTION:
Located in Valladolid, the capital of Castilla y León, the family-run dairy, Bonvallis, has produced their cheeses since 1984. The region of Castilla y León is well known for its vast production of sheep and blend cheeses, and cured meat products. Long cold winters and dry hot summers are the perfect conditions for manufacturing their products. Bonvallis Iberico can be semi-cured (around 2 months), cured (4-6 months) and aged (over 7 months).

Idizabal DOPAraz
Smoked Idiazabal Cheese
Basque County, Spain

Smoked Idiazabal by Araz is a traditional, farmhouse, hard cheese made from raw milk of Latxa or Carranza sheep in the Basque and Navarra regions of northern Spain. Named after the village of Idiazabal, the cheese received Spanish D.O. (Denomination of Origin) in 1987, which defines the basic regulations for the product’s manufacturer. Idiazabal is produced in the shape of a cylinder, with a smooth and hard natural rind that is pale yellow to amber in color. The cheese has a compact texture that is dry, but not crumbly, and feels pleasantly oily in the mouth. The rind carries the marks of the wooden moulds in which it was drained and the cheese itself has a characteristic smoky flavor, coming from the fireplaces it is stored near during the summer.

WINE & CRAFT BEER PAIRING: Idiazabal Cheese pairs beautifully with a medium-bodied tempranillo from our Fruity wine style category. It also pairs well with Fruity & Spicy beers, such as a cider or a sour.

WINESTYLES: Fruity
BEERSTYLES:
Fruity & Spicy

PRODUCTION:
In the summer, the sheep migrate to higher pastures to graze on the blossoming, new grass. During this time, the artisanal cheese makers milk the sheep, make the Idiazabal cheese and leave it in the rafter to mature for a minimum ripening of 2 months. At the end of summer, when the cheese makers return back to the lowlands with their sheep, the cheese has ripened and is ready for sale.

Monthly Cheese ClubDon’t let your Wine Club go home alone!

Join our Cheese Club and bring home a match made in heaven!

If you enjoy pairing cheese with wine, this is your club!  Each month you’ll discover specialty and artisan cheeses to pair with your Wine Club. Monthly cheese selections are chosen by your local WineStyles participating location. It’s the perfect opportunity to Taste, Learn and Enjoy® amazing artisan cheese every month! Only $19.99/month and your wine won’t be lonely!  Click to learn more >

WineStyles Thanksgiving Guide

Happy Thanksgiving

Dust the dining room. Count the chairs. Polish the wine glasses. Thanksgiving is almost here! #happythanksgiving

Are you ready to prepare all the trimmings for the table? Or perhaps you’re visiting family or friends and don’t want to show up empty handed! Either way, we’re here to help.

Shop WineStyles, Earn Bottle Bucks!

First things first – remember you can earn Bottle Bucks for your Thanksgiving shopping! Throughout November and December, spend $100 at participating WineStyles stores, and you’ll get $15 back in Bottle Bucks to use on more goodies! WineStyles is your one-stop shop for premium wines, craft beers, artisan cheeses and gourmet foods perfectly suited for your Thanksgiving feast. View details here, and find your local WineStyles store here. Offer void where prohibited.

bottle bucks

What to serve before dinner:

Wine: Bubbly is perfect for a pre-dinner apéritif. Plus it starts off your feast on the right foot. It is a celebration after all! Toast your guests as they come through the door and make them feel right at home. It’s even a good idea to keep out some bubbles for an in-between courses palate cleanser. Bubbly does a great job at cutting through fats and sweets.

Food: Put together a simple yet stunning cheese and charcuterie board in no time at all. To please everyone’s palates, opt for a diverse selection of tastes (smoked, tangy) and textures (hard, soft, grainy) so there will be plenty of variety for your guests to nosh on. Once your cheeses and charcuterie is cut and displayed, add some colorful cheer! Colorful pickles, mustard, olives, cherries and nuts will make your board look tasteful and polished. Pick up all the artisan cheese and charcuterie you need at your local WineStyles store.

cheese board

Above: Cheese board with variety of cheeses

 

charcuterie board

Above: Charcuterie board with baguette, pickles, olives


What to choose if you want 1 or 2 wines to go with the whole feast:

Choosing just one or two wines to go with your Thanksgiving feast is possible. Granted, each dish on your table may not be the perfect “match made in heaven” pairing to your wine, but we can get pretty close. Here are our best red and white wine picks for you:

Red: Fruity Pinot Noir 

A high-acid, low-tannin Pinot Noir, such as from the Willamette Valley in Oregon is your best bet for a red wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner start to finish. The key-word here is “fruity”. A dry red can lose its presence among all the fruity, sugary, and salty dishes on the table. The fruit-forward flavors of cranberry and cherry in a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir will complement your turkey dinner and all its dressings. Hint: At your local WineStyles store, ask for help selecting the perfect Pinot Noir for your dinner under the Fruity style section.

White: Semi-Sweet Riesling

A semi-sweet Riesling such as Weingut Geierslay from Mosel, Germany is your best bet for a white wine that can stand up to the turkey and all its dressings on the big day. You may remember this particular wine from your October Wine Club selections! (View Wine Club details and our special holiday sign-up offer here.) Riesling is incredibly versatile with typically low alcohol content and high acidity. It will complement just about anything you pair it with, and the touch of sweetness may be welcome by friends and relatives who aren’t wine connoisseurs.

tgivingwines

Thanksgiving-friendly wines at your local WineStyles store


What to pair with ___insert dish here____

Ask your local WineStyles staff to help you pick the perfect wines to pair with all your Thanksgiving dishes, whatever they may be. If you want to branch out and try a little something different that will pair perfectly with each and every dish from ham to pie, we commend you! WineStyles is here to help make your Thanksgiving one for the memory books. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Mystery Behind Cheese and Wine, Explained

Great things take time. We are all familiar with the age-old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Whether you’re painting a city block mural or writing a once-in-a-lifetime novel, know that life’s greatest achievements are the result of many smaller efforts strung together with great love and care.

CheeseWine1

Create a beautiful and delicious gift, or treat yourself! All the spreads will look lovely atop a brightly colored cheese plate!

Achieving greatness is not often the result of just one lucky lightning strike, but rather dedicated mini-moments of daily discipline exercised over time. Great endeavors, great love, great art, and of course great wine and cheese all take time and care. It is when that time and care are given that we are truly wow-ed with the results.

At WineStyles Tasting Station, we like to appreciate all the finer foods of life, so let’s take a moment to appreciate two of our favorite aged delicacies: Cheese and Wine!

cheese-makerWine has been around since man’s first fire-side dinner party way back in the late Stone Age (nationalgeographic.com). Cheese, on the other hand, came into our lives only 8-10,000 years ago and wine couldn’t have been happier that it finally showed up to the party (nationalhistoriccheesemakingcenter.org).

Cheese and wine are notoriously great when paired together, perhaps because wine pairs so well with many delicacies – chocolate, pizza, leftover Easter candies, to name a few. Although they are so enjoyable together, the pairing process can be difficult to understand. After all, these are two very different items, right?

Precisely!

There is a reason the most popular food pairings of all time make our collective mouths water. Think peanut butter and jelly, sandwiches with pickles, and soda pop with a bag of potato chips. Each of these pairings are so satisfying because they lend a harmonious balance to our taste buds.

Let’s break it down to a gastronomical level. LiveScience.com puts it simply, saying:

CheeseWine2

Choose a rustic slate board for an extra dose of chic. Wine, cheese, and jam make the perfect trio for your taste buds!

“Because fat is oily, eating it lubricates the mouth, making it feel slick or even slimy. Meanwhile, astringents, chemical compounds such as the tannins in wine and green tea, make the mouth feel dry and rough… We don’t like slimy, but we don’t like puckered up, either.”

There you have it. What first seemed an inexplicable craving to enjoy a cheese plate with your glass of wine is finally explained by science! Next time you’re snacking on something salty or fatty and crave a refreshing soda or crisp glass of wine, you’ll know what’s really going on – your taste buds are searching for harmony. And who are we to deny them that!

Want to learn the basics of pairing Cheese and Wine?

Sign up for our next Boot Camp Class: Cheese & Wine 101 at your local WineStyles!

CheeseWine101

Learn all about pairing your favorite Cheeses and Wines in this interactive class! Best part about it – you get to taste as you learn! Don’t miss out, this class will be both educational and delicious.

Please RSVP at your local WineStyles location. Seating space is limited, so make your reservation as soon as possible!

*Please note: Classes and rewards may vary at different WineStyles locations. See your local WineStyles Tasting Station for details, click here.

Thanks for reading,

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Cheese for Summertime

MaxInterview with Max McCalman, Dean of Curriculum and Maitre Fromager of Artisanal Cheese

What is your perfect cheese/wine pairing for weddings?
Luscious triple crèmes like Brillat-Savarin or Pierre Robert, and a well-aged Gruyère from Beeler. Pair with fine Champagne — a match made in heaven.

Which cheese and wine pairings do you suggest for Father’s Day?
This is the time of the year when we begin to see the broadest variety of types of cheese. The Lauriers are lovely soft cheeses. To add a little sweet for your dad, include a variety of Gouda that has been aged four years. Pairing these two cheeses from opposite ends of the CheeseClock™ is simple, as they both are complemented quite well by lighter white wines.  Or try two-year-old Cheddar or the Terraluna. Pair either one of these two firm cheeses with a glass of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.

Which cheese and wines go best when preparing for a BBQ?
Try Petite Syrah, a Zinfandel or Primitivo, or a Tempranillo. These wines are best paired with sheep milk cheeses, such as Stella Royale and Pecorino Sardo.

Cheese_springWhat’s the best way to store cheese in summertime?
During warm weather it’s important to place it in a chilled storage container, especially a soft cheese.

Tell us more about the new cheeses and what wine they would pair with?
One of our newer cheeses is the Terraluna, which is produced in Utah and comes from clean raw Jersey cow milk. This cheese is in the cheddar family yet it is a little less acidic than most. It offers a deep flavor with a longlasting finish. It’s a versatile cheese partner with many wines, especially Pinot Noir. Another cheese in our caves is the Stella Royale. It is a traditional-style pressed sheep milk cheese from northwest Spain. The paste of the cheese is firm and granular and carries a distinct olive oil aroma just before it finishes with a nutty flavor. Stella Royale pairs well with Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc.

Cheese – A Near Perfect Food

Max

Interview with Max McCalman, Dean of Curriculum and Maitre Fromager of Artisanal Cheese

What cheeses are best during the summer months?
We are coming into a pretty good time of year for cheese. It’s unfortunate that people don’t eat as much cheese in the summer, because that is when a broader type of cheeses are really starting to show. The goat’s milk cheeses in particular are at their best in summertime because the animals have more to choose from to eat. They’re also cheeses that aren’t meant to age and keep for many months.

How are goats’ milk cheeses made?
Milk is saved from four milkings—an evening milking from day one, a morning and evening milking from day two and a morning milking from day three. Goats’ milk contains coagulants, which are then sped up with the addition of cultures and rennets. When the milk has coagulated, it turns into a spongy mass—the curds. These are then cut into little pieces, which allow the whey, or liquid part, to drain off easily. The curds are then put into perforated molds, so the whey continues to drain off. The young cheese is then gently removed from the mold and set out on shelves to dry. After a couple of weeks, the cheese is dusted with vegetable ash, which makes it a little less acidic and allows for even more beneficial mold to flourish. It also takes excess moisture out and puts flavor in.

What’s a good wine/cheese pairing for summer?
Pairing principles come down to a couple of things. A salty cheese will probably pair better with a sweeter or fruitier wine. That’s why dessert wines pair so well with cheese. They give them a balancing partner. Texture comes into play, too. The harder cheeses are more successful with a broader range of wine types.

Any tips on packing cheeses for outdoor dining?
Cheese should be kept out of sunlight, but kept cool. If you are having a picnic, put it in the cooler, but don’t put it down in the ice.  Then bring it up to room temperature before eating—it will taste better. Firmer cheeses are easier to transport. A brie-type of cheese in 90-degree weather is not going to be very pretty. That should be enjoyed indoors.