A sampling of specialty cheeses, matched to a favorite wine or beer, can kick start a romantic evening or even serve as a main course for a special evening in.
Cheese pairing recommendations from Liz Symon, sommelier and wife of Chef Michael Symon.
Castello® Creamy Havarti
This pairs nicely with a rich, ripe Chardonnay. A top value for new world Chardonnay is Willamette Valley, Ore., home of the St. Innocent Winery. Its fantastic 2010 Chardonnay from the Freedom Hill Vineyard is rich with roasted pineapple notes, as well as lemon curd and vanilla and spice qualities that are harmonious with this cheese. ($20) retail.
Castello® Aged Havarti
This cheese offers richness, developed flavors and textures that are fun with a modern concentrate red wine like Malbec. Mendoza, Argentina-based Catena is one of the first producers that put Malbec on the map. The 2011 has ripe dense blackberry notes, tobacco, cocoa and sweet vanilla extract attributes. ($14) retail.
The aromatics and funk of the classic cheese work nicely with the contrast of a German Riesling. The 2011 Dr. F. Weins-Prüm Estate Riesling from Mosel, Germany offers a touch of sweetness and sharp focus of bright white peach, nectarine, green apple and lemon. ($13) retail.
Castello® Alps Hirten
With rich flavor and structure, this cheese needs a wine of equal complexity. The 2009 Bodegas Muga Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain delivers with a bold black cherry fruit component, along with smoke and leather tones. The structure is big and dry with new oak presenting flavors of dill and caramel. This is a great wine from a historical producer at a very fair price. ($30) retail.