Wings — lots of ’em — barbecue, chili, guacamole, other dips, maybe a veggie platter. And beer. All will be standard fare for your Super Bowl party Feb. 3.
What’s missing? Cheese, of course. Make that cheese and wine. As in a super-pairing party.
Why not add a twist to the food and drink you’re planning for the party?
Place three or four stations throughout your house, each with a specific group of cheeses and wines. Let people sample them, compare them and find a winner before the big game even starts. (This wine and cheese party formula could be used anytime during the year.)
Daniel O’Neill, recently retired general manager from Midlothian’s Ruth’s Chris Steak House — and a wine and food connoisseur par excellence— said not to slap any wine and cheese together.
“When pairing cheese and wine, it can become complicated due to the amount of different styles of wine and the different variety of cheeses,” he said. “When you’re shopping for wine and are unfamiliar with selections, it can be intimidating. The same thing happens at the cheese case with an overwhelming abundance of different cheeses.”
O’Neill offers some general guidelines for pairing:
- Lighter-bodied white wines pair with soft cheeses.
- Oaky chardonnays and medium-bodied wines with medium-hard cheese.
- Full-bodied wines pair best with semi-hard or hard cheese.
- Dessert wines or port pair with blue-veined cheeses.
Also, O’Neill says, consider the alcohol content when trying to come up with the right pairing.
“Wines with higher alcohol of 14 percent and above taste better with hard cheeses like aged Pecorino or Reggiano,” he said. “It will cut the fat. Wines with lower alcohol of 12 percent or below match the flavors of soft and lighter flavored cheeses. The lower alcohol complements the delicate flavors of these soft cheeses.”
If you’re still in doubt about how and what to pair, O’Neill says, a Champagne or sparkling wine is a great go-to wine that pairs with anything.
“There is no ‘wrong’ pairing,” he said. “It all depends on personal preference. Even beer makes a great match with most cheeses.”
One other tip: “Don’t forget to remove your cheese from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before serving,” O’Neill said. “Doing so will increase the flavors of the cheese and make it more enjoyable.”