Get Mindful with Wine and Cheese

The simplest definition of mindfulness is the act of noticing new things, so why not let our sense of taste and smell lead us to a moment of mindfulness?

Wine and cheese are a classic pairing that has been around for hundreds of years. There seems to be debate as to where the concept it originated, but ultimately each region has its own spin on it, which is largely attached to the principle “what grows together goes together.” It’s why Italian’s pair Parmigiano-Reggiano with Pinot Grigio and Prosecco.

But often these days many places host wine and cheese pairings without being intentional with the presentation. Not all cheeses complement all wine styles so it’s not necessarily a home run when it comes to pairings. In season three of the Major Crush Winecast we had the pleasure to interview John Ash, who is often referred to as the “Father of Wine Country Cuisine,” and he shares that white wine is usually the better choice for cheese pairings. Red wines often overpower the cheeses, unless it’s a strong cheese like bleu cheese.

As part of the decantU experiences, we often use cheese for our pairing exercises because they offer the perfect way to showcase how food can alter the taste of wine—either for good or bad.

If you’re up for an experiment on National Wine and Cheese Day or any day, gather with a few friends to try this…

Select either a soft goat cheese or creamy brie or both and open a white wine and a red wine. Start with the white wine by taking a few sips (spitting is allowed because it takes two to three sips before you fully taste a wine) and jot down the first things that come to your mind when you taste it—is it fruity, does it seem acidic, does it dry your mouth out, is it creamy, is it tart or bitter? What else do you notice?

Now take a bite of cheese and while there is still some in your mouth take another sip of wine. How has the wine changed? Do you enjoy the wine more or less with the cheese? Why?

Repeat the process above with the red wine.

This very simple exercise can be done a variety of ways, but the aim is to gain an appreciation for how much the flavors of food can impact the way a wine tastes and feels on the palate.

It also offers an opportunity for an act of mindfulness—noticing something you haven’t before.

And who knows you might discover a party in your mouth!