Wine and Cheese Pas de Deux

Last month, we touched on some basics around dessert wines and their terminology. This month – as dinner party season fast approaches with the holidays – let’s wow your guests with some basics around dessert wine and cheese pairings.

I recently spoke to a well-traveled epicurean friend of mine, Carrie Voorhis, who used to manage a cheese and wine shop in Indianapolis, Indiana. Every day she’d help folks like us find the perfect compliments to wines from all over the world. Her high-level take is that many people have an immediate fondness for sweet wines from the very start of developing their palate – as kids, we all loved candy so it’s not a stretch. Many a wine lover begins their education here and graduates on to drier wines. Truth be told, this is how I started out on my Bacchanalian journey, advancing from white zinfandel to merlot to hearty cabs. But make no mistake. “Not that that means a sweet wine is simple or can’t be extraordinary,” Voorhis warns. “One of the most legendary and naturally most expensive wines in the world is a Sauternes – Chateau d’Yquem.”

Often, I prefer to order dessert wine as my primary dessert, rather than accompanying anything. But pairing dessert wine with a lovely cheese platter feels like just the right touch of simple sophistication.
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For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.