1. Like with Like: Sancerre with Goat Cheese
The first pairing was a 2010 Sancerre Cherrier Les Fleuins with two of my favorite goat cheeses: Vermont Butter and Cheese Company's Cremont and Bonne Bouche. The Cremont has just a bit of cow milk in it, which adds a really delicious richness. They're each excellent alone, but the Sancerre was crisp and floral, and could cut through the creamy paste of the cheeses. The wine had a great level of acidity, which matched the tanginess of the goat milk. We called this our like with like pairing, and compared it to two people who work well together because their characters are similar. The marriage analogies weren't in short supply.
2. Opposites Attract: Riesling with Taleggio
Next was a Dr. Loosen "L" Riesling from 2011. Aromatic, slightly sweet, but with excellent acidity. I picked Taleggio: Washed rind, pasteurized cow milk, slightly funky, super creamy and milky. Its stinkiness was offset by the sweetness of the wine, in the same way that sometimes two people who are very different from one another make great partners. This is the opposites attract concept at work.
3. Tried and True: Rioja with English Farmhouse Cheddar
The last pairing was a 2005 Castillo Ygay Marquis de Murrietta Rioja Reserva with Keen's cheddar, a clothbound English farmhouse cheddar. I also picked up a few wedges of Wisconsin's Sartori SarVecchio , which tastes almost like a really mellow parmesan: not as salty and much more sweet. Really delicious with the Rioja, which was pretty robust with definite notes of fruit and spice. You'd not necessarily think of a cheddar to pair with it, but everyone agreed that they couldn't imagine one without the other.
I've always been a proponent of cheddars with big reds, and so we referred to this pairing as a tried and true matchup. We related this pairing to our friends getting married: each of them elevates the other, and is better for it. Tried and true, indeed.
Nora Singley used to be a cheesemonger and the Director of Education at Murray's Cheese Shop. Until recently she was a TV Chef on The Martha Stewart Show. She is currently a freelance food stylist and private chef in New York City.
(Image: Maxim Khytra/Shutterstock)