Surprising Flavor from a Perfect Pairing
I'm very excited about my first wine and cheese pairing of 2012, because both components are complex and flavorful: suberb on their own and marry together in a super surprising (and delicious) way - which is the #1 goal when creating a perfect pairing!
2010 Pighin Pinot Grigio Collio is a beautiful golden color and very aromatic with hints of hazelnut, white fruit and subtle spice. The palate is delicate, but expressive with layers of flavor, literally each sip brings out something new - if you don't think of enjoying white wine with food, give this a try! It is rich and earthy, medium to full-bodied and has a hint of peach, a ton of minerality and a textured mouth feel that is a very different from many Americanized, flat/light Pinot Gris you may have tasted and said "yuck". Azienda Fratelli Pighin is a magnificently beautiful family-owned estate located in the prestigious D.O.C Collio zone of Grave-del-Friuli, in northeast Italy, and they remain a benchmark producer for Pinot Grigio.
After enjoying a few sips of Pighin, I pick up a piece of very stinky Grayson, a gooey, golden, washed-rind cheese from Virginia. Meadow Creek's Grayson looks like Tallegio and smells like feet, which is great, considering this cheese is produced by the Feete family. This cheese smells dirty and straight from the barn, but tastes mild and amazing. It is creamy, with a thick paste that coats your mouth and I immediate think of using it in mac + cheese. The flavor is deep and hearty with onions and meaty beef on the palate, it could be a meal. The taste tames the scent and although it does smells like feet, Grayson will knock your socks off.
Once I have covered all of my tastebuds with the cheese, I take a hearty sip of the wine. It tastes like banana! In a good way. Thankfully I'm tasting with a number of others, confirming the banana burst and full-bodied tropical fruit that I find within this wine and cheese combination. The hazelnut flavor in the Pinot Grigio is also amplified when paired with the cheese and the meaty character of the cheese is humbled by the layers of fruit in the wine.
While both the Pighin and the Grayson are outstanding on their own, this pairing truly brings out the best of each other, while creating a new flavor together. That being said, a perfect pairing like this is able to work because 3 tasting principles are at work: the weight - each component is similar, medium to full bodied, with big aromatics, that greatly play into the what you experience while tasting. The texture - the wine and cheese "feel" similar in your mouth, they coat your tongue with creamy, smooth layers. Finally, the flavor - the wine is hearty and earthy, which is a great clue that the taste will be enhanced with food. The cheese is tastes like a meal itself, and of course, meals are always better with wine - I can't wait for you to try this combination! When you do, please post your thoughts here or share with our Facebook community!