Shavuos is coming up, and while some restrictions have been partially lifted in some places, many people are still in lockdown, or cannot gather together even for a casual BBQ in the backyard. Chances are most of you have all become experts in using the Zoom app, whether for the kids’ virtual classes, Torah shiurim, family reunions, work meetings, etc. I have myself organized and participated in multiple “Zoom events” to talk about wine, educate, and inform my colleagues and fellow wine enthusiasts, and I have many more such events scheduled over the coming weeks.
Shavuos for many is also an occasion to try new dairy recipes, new wines, and have some fun playing around with pairing wine and cheese. While we cannot use Zoom on yom tov, one can always take a moment to do a Zoom with friends and family before or after Shavuos and taste some wines and cheeses together.
What I suggest is as follows: organize a group of friends/siblings/cousins/coworkers to each buy two to three different types of cheese (let’s say for example a Danish blue cheese, a French Gruyère and some goat cheese) and purchase three different types of wine that are relatively affordable as to allow everyone to participate within the limits of a reasonable budget. All participants would get the same three kinds of cheese and the same three wines. They would taste each cheese while drinking a bit of each wine to see which wine goes best with which cheese and discuss their experience. Of course, do not expect to agree with everyone.
Here are the wines I suggest along with tasting notes, as well as my experience tasting them with the aforementioned cheeses:
Herzog, Lineage, Momentus, NV: Bright straw with light green reflections. On the nose, ripe Meyer lemon, pears, stone fruit, as well as hints of freshly baked sourdough bread. Light to medium-bodied, off-dry, with an almost creamy texture. Nice, focused bubbles, vibrant, with slightly sweet pear, honeydew, white peach, medium-plus acidity as well as pleasant yeasty notes and sweet lemon on the refreshing finish.
Vitkin, Pinot Noir, 2018: Deep ruby red towards garnet in color. On the nose, ripe cherries, raspberries, red currants with hints of clove, green foliage, and fresh herbs. Light to medium-bodied, with a silky, juicy texture. Medium intensity, with notes of ripe red berries, red cherries, followed by notes of kirsch, tobacco leaves with hints of cloves and nutmeg, medium to medium-plus acidity, with hints of roasted herbs and earthy, savory notes as well as soft tannins on a moderately long, elegant, and round finish.
Psagot, Rosé, 2019: Very pale pink, with on the nose ripe raspberries, fresh roses, red cherries, and black plums. A medium-bodied, fruit-forward rosé, with flavors of stone fruits, cherries, earthy minerals, grapefruit, watermelon, dragon fruit, and strawberries. Well balanced by refreshing, lively acidity with a mouth-watering and moderately long finish.
Herzog Lineage Momentus: Not surprisingly, sparkling wines usually pair well with almost everything. The acidity and bubbles cut through the fat of the goat cheese really nicely, and its subtle sweetness balanced out the saltiness of the gruyère and blue cheese really well. A winner!
Vitkin Pinot Noir 2018: The relatively light body and soft tannins allowed for both wine and goat cheese to not overwhelm one another, however, it was a bit too light with the gruyère and the blue cheese, which overpowered the taste of the wine but also tasted bitter due to the tannins. If you must have red wine with cheese, go with a light-bodied, low tannin wine like this one but only with cheeses that are neither very heavy nor salty.
Psagot Rosé 2019: The lively acidity and good body of this rosé make this wine a good pairing with the goat cheese. It also worked nicely with the gruyère – a really good balance there – and the fruitiness helped to handle the saltiness and funk of the blue cheese. Probably the best choice of rosé with cheese.
Have fun, enjoy, and send us some feedback! Chag sameach!