Wine tasting to include imported cheeses

By By Stan Torgerson / wine columnist
March 13, 2002
There have been times when local wine and cheese tastings have not been treated with respect in this column. Nondescript supermarket yellow cheese mixed in with chunks of white, cut in little cubes and served with wines that come in bottles with screwtops are not my idea of going first-class.
Wine and cheese tastings can be, and should be, something special. Memorable tastings call for unusual cheeses paired with wines which complement the subtleties of the cheese and add to the flavors and pleasures as well.
It's one thing to talk about it. It's quite another to demonstrate. We've never done that in the several years we have been conducting monthly tastings; March 28 will be the first.
We are fortunate to live so close to New Orleans, a city which has several stores which feature French, English, Spanish and other cheeses that simply cannot be purchased in Meridian. We spent last weekend in the Crescent City and had the pleasure of doing research in order to select the cheeses that will be featured two weeks from tomorrow.
This will give you an idea of what to expect.
There will be six different cheese varieties served, paired with six wines that will embellish their flavors.
One can be found in my refrigerator virtually every day of every winter and spring month, including today. It is the Explorateur, a French soft white cheese that is virtually beyond compare.
Explorateur ($20 a pound) is never produced in warm weather. It is available only from September through April. It is not easy to find and my favorite New Orleans cheese store was sold out last weekend. But they have ordered enough for our tasting on the 28th and we will have it for those who attend. It is to be spread on crackers, somewhat like Brie or Camembert or goat cheese, but has a much better flavor. Explorateur demands a toasty champagne and we will make our choice this week.
I will say more about the other wines to be selected in next week's column.
We will also serve another French white cheese, the St. Andre. This is a triple cream cheese, rich, smooth and made to be accompanied by burgundy wine. We have the right burgundy in mind to partner with the St. Andre.
A special treat will be the famous Montgomery cheddar from England, a cheddar that may be among the best in the wine-tasting world. Clive Coats, one of the great experts in the field, an author, lecturer and editor of his own wine publication, will not give a tasting unless it is accompanied by the Montgomery cheddar. He is holding a tasting in New Orleans tonight and you can be certain Montgomery cheddar will be served. In all probability, we will pair it with a full-bodied cabernet sauvignon.
One of the love-it-or-not-love-it cheeses is Roquefort. Lesser versions are called blu cheese and it can made in America, Denmark or several other countries. But the greatest of all roquefort is made in France and, to me, the greatest of these is the Carles.
Carles roquefort is stored in underground caves for long periods while the blu mold that gives the cheese its startling flavor develops. To give you a yardstick, Carles roquefort sells for $18 a pound, pricey but darn well worth it.
Now comes the surprising part. Roquefort's ideal tasting partner is port wine. Many of you are no doubt asking yourself, "How can this be? Port wine is sweet." Yes it is, but sweet or not, it marries roquefort beautifully. It will be presented as the final wine and cheese combination of the evening.
There will be two other examples of imported cheese served, but we are awaiting word as to whether the shipment of our choice will arrive in time or if we will have to make a change to another type.
One thing that is certain. All cheese will be served on Bremner Wafers, the absolute choice as the finest cracker for wine and cheese. You'll see.
Because the cheese we have selected ranges from $11 to $20, and the cost of the wines which will accompany them is considerable, the price per seat for this event will be $30.
We have also estimated the maximum number who can attend; when that number of places has been sold, reservations will have to be closed.
Please call 482-0930 to make your reservations or send your check to Wines Unlimited at P.O. Box 5223, Meridian, MS 39302. As usual, the tasting will be held at Northwood Country Club and will start at 6:30 p.m.

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