Blue cheeses provide the biggest challenge when matching with wine. They can be sweet, salty and spicy. These attributes clash with the tannins in red wines, producing a metallic taste. The solution is sweet wine.
Methods for making sweet wines
Quality sweet wines are made by dehydrating grapes, which concentrates the sugar. If this is high enough, then some remains after fermentation. Examples of how these are made:-
- A fungus called botrytis cinerea, also known as ‘noble rot’, can infect individual grapes under the right conditions. The infected grapes look revolting, but taste delicious.
- ‘Ice wine’ where grapes are left on the vine until the weather gets cold enough to freeze them. If they are pressed in this state, the juice is very concentrated.
- Grapes are allowed to dry on the vine, or after picking, to become raisin-like.
Examples of these types of wine are:-
- Sauternes/Barsac from the Bordeaux region. Also look for Loupiac and Monbazillac, less expensive and from the same grape varieties and region.
- Sweet Chenin Blanc wines from the Loire – Coteaux de Layon, and Quarts de Chaume. Vouvray is made in many styles, and the sweet versions are labelled Moelleux or Liquoreux.
- Sweet Alsace wines, particularly Selection de Grains Noble.
- Tokaji from Hungary. The more Puttonyos declared on the label, the sweeter the wine.
- Sweet Muscats, made in many countries.
Adding alcohol to stop the fermentation:-
Grape spirit can be added to partially fermented grape juice. This stops the fermentation and retains much of the grape sugar. This method is used to produce sweet red wines. Examples are:-
- Banyuls or Maury from Southern France.
Cheese and wine – a match made in heaven.