Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wine and Cheese

So five years ago today, I got married to a wonderful man who I don't deserve. So far he hasn't caught on, and I ain't telling him.

Anyways, we're celebrating tonight by having a few friends over after dinner for a wine and cheese cocktail thingy. I don't what you're supposed to call these things. The important part, is that i get to show off my wine and cheese knowledge.

Actually, I don't really have much knowledge of wines. My husband and I both freely admit we choose wine based on the pretty labels or if it "sounds cool". And you know? That's absolutely fine. Even wine experts drink what they like. They just call it oenology. (Dave Barry once wrote that oenology sounded like an unnatural sex act. That's awesome.) But I can name different varietals and describe some of the differences and I'm starting to learn how to pair things (Hint: Carmenere goes GREAT with leftover italian sausage pizza).

Cheese is another thing entirely. Wine is intimidating. You hate to ask for advice, for fear of being made to feel dumb. Cheese is not. No matter how fancy it sounds, or what "region" or "milk" they use. It's just cheese. You can make a goddamned sandwich with it. However, with that in mind, a cheese plate seems to be one of those infinitely classy things you can set out for guests.

I picked three varieties of cheddar for this plate. Usually I throw in a brie and a blue cheese, but since this is an "after dinner" sort of party, I'm trying to keep it light. Besides, me and my friend Jeff are the only ones that adore stinky cheese. I've got a crumbly Vermont cheddar, a wax covered sharp Wisconsin cheddar and a "celtic cheddar" that's lower in fat than what's typical. All cheeses we've had before and enjoyed.

Cheese and fruit are natural pairings. Some are considered "classic" like pairs and brie. I'm not too fussed over that though. Fruit helps take out that "the inside of my mouth is coated in cheese feeling". We foodie types call it a "palate cleanser". We chose dried mango, dried currants and fresh grapes. Trader Joes also does a chili spiced dried mango that I adore, but again, I'm the only one that will eat it, so it didn't stay in the cart today.

Nuts are also a good part of a cheese plate. We picked out lightly salted cashews for ours.

This is when I get to feel all artsy fartsy. Just arrange things on the tray, plate, platter, whatever in a way that looks pretty. I tried to alternate dark and light colors. Pay attention to how you cut the cheese. I always try to keep it bite sized for parties.

These are the wines for tonight. Why yes, we are big fans of Trader Joes. Why do you ask?

From left to right. A rose' that was on sale at Trader Joes today. I have no idea if it's any good, but it was three dollars and they've never let me down before, so I bought two bottles. A Three Buck Chuck "Valdeguie" varietal. I know nothing about it, except that it's a red I actually like. A Pinot Noir ("Cool! It has knights on it!"). And a Three Buck Chuck Shiraz.

So when our guests come over tonight, we'll throw out some crackers, cut up a pie, and snack our way to long term marital bliss.

Wine and cheese: Super swank and easy to prepare. Try it some time.


Anonymous said...

England may not have the finest food tradition, but cheese is one area where we shine.

If you're fond of blue cheese, look out for Shropshire Blue. It's a rich orange crumbly cheddar-style cheese with pungent aromatic blue veins running through it. It manages to be both crumbly and melt-in-the-mouth, which is awesome.

Ani Cheval said...

I am Seriously lacking in friends who enjoy the wine and cheese soiree' these days. That's one thing that was lovely about my ex. He did enjoy the finer things in life like wine and cheese and gourmet food right alongside his blackmetal. I do have hopes for one or two of my friends being lured to the dark side, though. As we're getting older they're starting to let go of the need to be shocking and thus they are occasionally submitting to things like a fashionable wardrobe and art shows and film festivals.