Emily gave me a cheese-tasting-party pack and wine-trivia coasters for Christmas. So, we MUST put them to use! Some dear friends came over to help us with the tasting. Prep was fun and easy.
First up was the white wine course. Cheeses were a plain Chevre, a Gruyere Reserve, and a Fontina. Our main discovery was that Gruyere Reserve is dry, salty , and delicious--not creamy like young Gruyere. We drank a fruity, non-oaky Chardonnay with this course (Ferrari Carano from Sonoma). It wasn't nice and buttery for sipping, but it was perfect with the cheeses. The chevre was delicious on endive leaves and the Fontina and the Gruyere were perfect on bread with a bit of Fig/Sweet Onion/Rosemary relish or with apples.
Next was the red wine course. The cheeses were a 1-year Manchego, a young raw milk Gouda, and a Dry Jack Vella. The wine was an M. Autumn Merlot from Napa. The Manchego was magnificent and went perfectly with the membrillo (quice paste) and with the date walnut bread, both of which are traditional accompaniments in Spain. The Dry Jack Vella was the big discovery in this course. We'd never had it before and it was delicious. The Gouda was flavorless compared to the other cheeses, so next time we're going to try an aged Gouda. Olives and Serrano ham completed the course.
Even though we were stuffed, we persevered for the Port course. Our friend brought a beautiful, 30-yr aged port (Graham's 1985) and it was the smoothest I've ever had. Stilton is the standard with port and it was indeed perfect. We discovered that toasted walnuts and good chocolate are also fantastic. We didn't need the farmhouse cheddar, but it was good with the beautiful fresh fruit salad they brought.
All in all, this was a really fun way to enjoy a good time with good friends and no cooking was involved!