Sure, most Bay Area folks know their wine. But they probably don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to pairing it with good cheese. Sarah Dvorak, owner of the adorable new Valencia Street shop, Mission Cheese, is here to help. Before you host your next cool cocktail party, take a look at her fast-and-easy tips for coupling your vino and queso to pitch-perfection. Your guests will surely thank you!
Keep clicking to peep Dvorak's cheese and wine cheat sheet, plus get a virtual tour through her stunning shop!
Are there any hard and fast rules when it comes to pairing wine and cheese like a pro?
“In general, white wine is almost always easier to pair than red. The problem with red wine and cheese is that they fight sometimes. It’s hard because certain cheeses will bring out the metallic characteristics in red wine or the red wine will just roll right over the cheese.”
So, it sounds like white wine and cheese might be the way to go. What cheeses go best with it?
“I definitely recommend a drier white wine because you need that acid to cut through some of the fat of the cheese. It’s a great wine to pair with your lighter goat cheeses, like a Sofia or Humboldt Fog. These more delicate cheeses are really hard to pair with red wine. But if you stick with a drier white wine or a drier rosé, it goes great.”
What would you suggest for red wine fans?
“I would go with more flavorful cheeses like an aged Gouda or a sharp Cheddar. Cheddar can kind of stand up to red wine. The Grenache that we carry is slightly peppery and has good fruit levels and it’s a pretty cheese-friendly wine. It really compliments the nutty sharpness of most of our cheddars.”
And what if you’re a beer drinker?
“An IPA, like Racer 5, with a cheddar pairing is my favorite! IPA’s are a really hoppy type of beer and they’re delicious with a clothbound cheddar. We also have two Belgian-style beers on tap. One is slightly darker and one is more of a farmhouse ale Saison. They are both really, really cheese-friendly and Belgian styles in general go really well with cheese. The darker beer is great with a washed-rind cheese like Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery and anything a little bit stinkier. Whereas with the Saison, you can go with a lighter cheese like a Humboldt Fog.”
Any other pairing tips?
“Blue cheeses generally go really well with sweet dessert wines. And sparkling wines are amazing with a triple-cream cheese like MT Tam from Cowgirl Creamery or Kunik, a cheese from New York. Together, they're dreamy!”
You have over 60 types of cheese here. If you had to pick just one to eat all day long, which would you choose?
“That would be so hard! I really love them all. But right now, I think I’d eat Ascutney Mountain, which is from Vermont. It’s not super pungent and it’s also not super mild. It’s just creamy and I love the texture.”
We’re guessing you actually do eat cheese all day, even though you are so tiny! Do you think cheese gets a bad wrap for being fatty?
“I think it does! Based on the amount of nutrition and protein you get out of a little hunk of cheese, it does get a bad wrap. But there are people in the cheese world who are working to get rid of the stigma!”
Photos by Shilpi Tomar