This tip is from UmbriaLovers, 2 locals travelling in Umbria, the "green heart of Italy"
We love Cheese, and we love Wine as well. That's why we could not miss the "Pairing cheeses with sweet wines" event, organized by the association "La Strada del Sagrantino" (the Street of Sagrantino). Moreover, the event was FREE and held in a beautiful historic room of the Comune of Montefalco.
The tasting was structured as follows:
3 mature cheeses with the Sagrantino Passito (the sweet version of Sagrantino)
3 blue cheeses (one of them was a Gorgonzola) with a Muffato Wine
We had never paired cheeses with sweet wines and, if at a first thought, it could be a bit strange, at the tasting the match was absolutely perfect and delicious (nevertheless, don't we use also marmelade with cheese?!).
They gave us the plate with cheeses put in a precise way, we had to taste them clockwise (from the one in lower part of the plate), taking a little bite of the cheese and then drinking a bit of wine. Before to eat them, they suggested us to do other things, similar when tasting a wine:
- we had to touch them to feel the consistency
- we had to watch them and see their colours
- we had to sniff them, to understand the scent
- we could taste them to get the flavour
They suggested us also to let some air inside the mouth while eating them, as we do with wines.
Despite the fact that all of them were delicious - also because pure traditional products that came from the hills, produced by locals, with healthy animals which graze, breath and eat in a natural environment - it was definitely interesting to understand the different feelings we had from the different pairings.
The cheeses in fact were put in a sapidity order, every time we moved on, we found a stronger and more intese flavour. The guide did not tell anything at the beginning, leaving us to get our favourite parings (at the end of the day is all about personal taste, not just theory), then he explained the concept:
basically the two flavours, the one from the cheese and the one from the wine, has not to dominate each other, they have to be balanced. Only at this time, both products have the chance to give all their properties and goodness.
That was true. Once they explained it to us, we realize that the more pleasant tasting was the one where we could feel both flavours, during time. It was heaven!
Other things learnt:
- get out the cheese from the fridge 2 hours before to eat it
- cut the cheese and eat it, do not prepare yet cutted pieces
- eat small pieces at time, if the products is good, you don't need much quantity to be satisfied
- buy the cheese in small quantity and eat it immediately, instead of buy it once a month or every 15 days
- look for quality. Here we talk about the product. The ones from the supermarkets and big malls are really without-flavours compared to the ones traditionally made. So, don't take the easy way of big stores but hunt for the small producer, you could spend some time (probably during enjoyable sunday trips) but you'll then have a better quality and health
- enjoy. don't just eat but, look, touch, feel, smell, experience it
Now the pairings.
the 3 mature cheeses were (in order of sapidity):
- Cimbro, a cheese from Verona
- Pecorino Umbro, from Umbria (BEST MATCH)
- Pecorino Classic
with a Sagrantino Passito (Passito=Sweet) wine from Montefalco, Antonelli's cellar, 2005
the 3 blue cheeses were:
- blue d'alpe (blue from alps)
- gorgonzola dop (BEST MATCH)
- blue di mucca (blue of cow)
with a Muffato della Sala wine from Antinori's cellar, 2006.
Just a note: the muffato wine (muffato=mouldy, sounds bad but tastes good) is called this way because it's the clime that determines the production. The fog in the mornings and the hot-dry of the afternoon, permit the grows of the noble mould on the grapes that gives then the fantastic taste to the wine.
Written and contributed by Umbria Lovers