Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Sparkling Wine and Cheese!

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Our cheeseboard- La Tur, Beehive Hatch Chile Cheese, Wensleydale and Cranberries, and Vermont Creamery St. Albans with Charlito’s Cocina Chorizo seco

Can you believe we’ve only had a handful of Wine and Cheese Friday sparkling wine entries? We really like this type of wine so we figured we could take this chance to learn some more, and who can resist the bubbly? Sparkling wine is always festive, but what better reason to drink some bubbles than Valentine’s Day. It’s only a few days away, you know. Learn more alongside us and then give a new bottle of bubbles a try on Feb. 14. Of course, we’ve got some cheeses in here too for you to pick up.

Bubbles at Wine101 Hamden

Have you ever looked into sparkling wine regarding the grapes or where they come from? There are many great options from all over the world, and even different colors of wine to choose from. Today we’ve got a red, two whites, and a rosé option with varying levels of dryness.

Cheeses at Wine101 Hamden

Raise the bar this Valentine’s day with some decadent cheeses! As you know from reading our website, we love cheese! We’ve matched up quite a variety of them below, each with different textures, origins, and flavors, to go with our sparklings.

Wine 101 Hamden

The tasting occurred at Wine 101 in Hamden, CT in preparation for a #WiningHourChat with Chris, the proprietor, and Maria & Neil from WineAndCheeseFriday, all as the featured guests. Chris put together a great selection of 4 wines, all under $20. Ready for your “Easy on the Wallet” intro to bubbly? How can you resist the “pop” of a tasty sparkler? Let’s get started.

Bottle: San Venanzio Prosecco
Cheese: La Tur
San Venanzio Prosecco and La Tur
$15
grapes: Glera
white wine
Veneto, Italy
cheese: 3 milks, soft-ripened, Italian cheese

When you’ve tasted Prosecco, did you know it had different grapes than other sparkling white wines? Prosecco is actually a wine that has specific DOC requirements, including the sourced grapes and the region of Italy. I picked up mineral aromas and crisp, clean flavors with a touch of honey on this wine. When choosing a cheese, I’m always partial to a cheese that includes cow, sheep and goats milk, so Chris did great picking out the La Tur! As soon as he opened the package, I could smell the funk coming off it and some enticing milky aromas. For flavor, it definitely had a good funk and coated my tongue. Give this messy cheese a try, it was my favorite of the evening! And if there wasn’t enough funk already, the wine made the cheese even more funky.

Bottle: Korbel Natural
Cheese: Vermont Creamery St. Albans
Korbel Natural & Vermont Creamery St. Albans
$17
grapes: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Sonoma, California
white wine
cheese: cow milk, aged, Vermont cheese

Have you heard of Methode Champenoise? It’s how sparkling wine producers describe the process of making bubbly wines. The transformation from a still wine to a sparkling actually occurs entirely inside the bottle. Want to learn more about the wine making process? Then check out Wine Folly’s article, https://winefolly.com/review/how-sparkling-wine-is-made/. Besides being the method used in Champagne, sparkling wine producers like to include the grapes used in the Champagne region as well. So although this wine is from California, it uses the grapes and method similar to what’s used in France. I thought it was a bit musty at first but then the aromas turned clean and citrus. When we came back to it again, the aroma changed to apple. There was a flavor of honey, yeast and a nice texture of bubbles. Neil and I have tried cheeses from Vermont Creamery before, but this was our first time with St Albans. It had a strange combination of funky and clean aromas. The flavor was also clean but there was some brine from the wash of the cheese during aging. Similar to the first pairing the wine jacked up the funk on the cheese.

Bottle: Mercat Brut Rosé Cava
Cheese: Wensleydale & Cranberry
Mercat Brut Rosé & Wensleydale and Cranberries
$16
grapes: Macabeu, Xarel.lo, Parellada & Monastrell
Barcelona, Spain
rosé wine
cheese: cow milk, young not aged, Britain

I’ve heard of Cava in the past, but all I really knew about it was that it was another kind of sparkling wine. This type of wine uses specific grapes from an area in Northern Spain. I found the Cava to smell musty and strawberry but it was the driest wine of the evening. Since it was so dry, I couldn’t notice much flavor. Neil, on the other hand, described it as “surprisingly delicate” with cranberry and pomegranate flavors. It actually fascinated him so he sat off to the side pondering it some more. This cheese is one we probably have a couple times per year, and we love the texture, creaminess and the flavor of the cranberries. This one didn’t disappoint with the texture, Neil thought it was super creamy. I picked up cheddar type aromas with some sweetness. The flavor was tangy and the cranberries were fresh, not dried! When we tasted the cheese with the wine, the wine seemed mineral and clean but didn’t change much.

Bottle: Rosso All’ Antica Lambrusco
Cheese: Beehive Hatch Chile Cheese
Charcuterie: Charlito’s Cocina Chorizo seco
Rosso All’ Antica Lambrusco with Charlito’s Cocina Chorizo Seco and Hatch Chile Cheese
$15
grapes: Ancellotta, Marani, Salamino
Reggiano, Italy
red wine
cheese: cow’s milk, semi-firm, Utah

Lambrusco is a wine that many people have tried in the past and wouldn’t think to try it again now. That’s not because it’s bad, its just a past trend that went wrong. Lambrusco is a type of wine that can actually range quite a bit from sweet to dry. The one we tried that evening Neil described as “way to easy to drink,” but that’s not because it was sweet. This particular example actually smelled great, so much like red berries, and also like graphite. Neil thought the texture of the bubbles was very faint. I think the wine was very light and clean, as well as earthy. Chris, Neil and I would all recommend that you give Lambrusco a try again, but maybe this time, buy it at a wine shop, not a grocery store! ?

We tasted the Charlito’s Cocina Chorizo seco, dry cured pork, alongside this wine. It was so smoky, but you could taste the pork too. The wine cleansed the palate which helped when tasting it together with the chorizo, but it also brought out the graphite in the wine. Let’s not forget the cheese in this pairing! This one was so out of the ordinary. It smelled and tasted like pizza, with a spicy tang, even reminding me of a meatball grinder. Just like with the chorizo, the lambrusco helped to cleanse my palate. I’d guess with two pretty intense foods like chorizo and spicy cheese, it’s great to have a palate cleanser that will help you enjoy all of it. This was my favorite pairing of the evening!

Our Wine Lineup- San Venanzio Prosecco, Korbel Natural, Mercat Brut Rosé Cava, and Rosso All’ Antica Lambrusco

Are you wondering how the pairings might be mixed and matched by putting different wines and cheeses together? We were too, so we tried a few bonus pairings. First we tasted the Mercat Brut Rosé Cava with the Hatch Chile Cheese. The cheese seemed the same to me, but the bubbles were a little more obvious in the wine. Neil found the wine to change too with more fruit. Next up was the Korbel Natural and La Tur, which caused the wine to decrease the funk of the cheese. I’d say this may have been a better match for the La Tur because the Prosecco increased the funk. Finally we paired the Rosso All’ Antica Lambrusco and La Tur. This was another nice pairing because the wine and cheese went together pleasantly.

What a fun night of pairing so many bubbles and cheeses with Chris! We knew we liked sparkling wines before, but now we know a little more about them. And what a great variety of cheeses to match up against them. This just might have to become an annual event at Wine 101 Hamden. They actually do already offer wine classes and cheese classes in the store, so check out their website for more details.

Curious about how the questions surrounding these wine and cheeses played out back in October on #WiningHourChat? Check back for our midweek entry all about the Twitter chat! http://wineandcheesefriday.com/co-hosting-wininghourchat-with-chris-from-wine101-hamden/

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