Tag Archives: parmesan

Simple Cheese & Wine Pairings

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When people host a Wine Tasting, I am often asked what cheeses should be served. My number one rule:

Keep it simple!

The last thing I want the host to do is spend a ton of money on expensive cheese or hours preparing mouthwatering appetizers. The tasting is really about the wine. In addition, I don’t want the tasting to be work for the host. I want them to have fun, too. {Although some people just like to do that!}

That being said, cheese does have the ability to enhance the wine as well and is an essential part of an educational wine tasting. I have often converted sweet wine lovers all the way over to the red spectrum, just by showing them how food can really enhance the flavor and the experience.

If you want to throw together some really easy, inexpensive cheeses for a wine tasting or are having a last minute gathering with a few girlfriends, here are a few suggestions. I like to call these “safe” cheeses, because they tend to go with almost all wines.

Safe Cheeses :

  • Mild Cheddar
  • Gouda
  • Hard cheeses like Parmesan or Asiago

But maybe you want your focus to be the perfect wine with the perfect cheese. Maybe you have a favorite wine and you want to know the best cheese pairings to go with it are. Or maybe you just bought an interesting cheese and you’re wondering what wine to serve. Here are a few classic pairings:

White wines:

  • Chardonnay – Smoked Gouda, Brie
  • Gewürztraminer – Swiss, Muenster
  • Pinot Grigio – Asiago, Fresh Mozzarella
  • Riesling – Gouda, Monterey Jack
  • Sauvignon Blanc – Goat Cheese (chevre), Gruyère
  • Sparkling Wine – Brie, Camembert, Parmesan
  • Viognier – Aged Gouda, Goat Cheese (chevre)

Red wines:

  • Beaujolais – Provolone, Brie, Feta
  • Cabernet Sauvignon Aged or Sharp Cheddar, Danish Blue
  • Chianti – Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Ricotta
  • Malbec – Manchego, Taleggio, Cashel Blue
  • Merlot – Cheddar, Gouda, Jarlsberg
  • Pinot Noir – Harvarti, Colby-Jack, Feta
  • Shiraz/Syrah – Sharp Cheddar, Gouda, Edam
  • Tempranillo – Manchego, Havarti
  • Zinfandel – Sharp Cheddar, Muenster, Blue Cheese

Dessert Wines:

  • Moscato – Baby Swiss, Cheesecake 😉
  • Very Sweet Wines – Blue Cheese

When in doubt, do a google search like the following:

{insert cheese name here} + wine pairing

{insert wine name here} + cheese pairing

Seriously people, it’s that simple. You will yield several results. The ones that come up the most often will be your best bets. But then, be the judge yourself. Keep a notebook with your favorites so you don’t have to try to remember.

I’m often asked how these cheese should be served. Slices? Cubes? Let people cut their own?

How to Serve:

The truth… It doesn’t matter. People really don’t care about how beautiful your display of cheeses is. They just want to eat it. I would recommend smaller cubes or a not-too-thick slice for a couple of reasons. You want just a taste of the cheese {not a mouthful}. Big chunks are just too overpowering. And you may also want to try several! Think bite size. Small amounts of soft cheeses can even be smeared on crackers in advance to make it even simpler. But if you are just having friends over and you want to have pretty wedges for your guests to cut themselves, by all means… do that!

cheese & Wine

Just remember, grapes make a pretty arrangement, but they don’t go with wine!

For my hosts that decide to choose one cheese for each of the five wines that I bring to their Wine Tasting event, four to six ounces of each cheese is really all they need for an average tasting of about 15 guests.

Cheese is best enjoyed at room temperature. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Just don’t leave it out for hours on end!

The Truth About Wine & Cheese Pairings:

What really matters is which cheese and wine pairing YOU like. Though classic pairings are classic for a reason, not everyone has the same tastes. So don’t be afraid to experiment! Just remember to cleanse your palate with a plain cracker between each pairing so that you don’t judge the flavors based on your last bite and/or taste. The discover your favorites!

What is your favorite cheese and wine pairing?

Cheers~
Carrie

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My Favorite Way to Eat Popcorn

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I wasn’t ever really a huge popcorn eater.

Though, we did eat the air popped stuff as kids. I loved throwing fluffy popped kernels to our dog, Jerry, as he tried to catch him in his mouth. {He definitely was a popcorn eater, just as our dogs are now!}

As I got older, I found that going to the movies and ordering a big tub of popcorn made me very thirsty…  which made me drink a ton of pop {or soda, depending from where you are reading this}… which made me have to pee in the middle of the movie… which always ended up in the middle of a significant part. So I decided: This is sooooo not worth it!

Now that I know that movie theater popcorn can be equivalent to a day’s worth of calories {or even two}, I am even less likely to get it.

But recently, I did find a way to really enjoy popcorn at home. My husband sometimes picks up those 100 calorie microwave popcorn bags, which are great, but can include unnecessary additives. So I was delighted this winter when I got popcorn in my CSA box:

The first time it showed up in the box, it was still on the cob and we had to shuck it. I don’t think that’s even the right term. Shucking is removing the leaves and silk, isn’t it? Well, we had to de-cob it, then. It was kind of fun. My husband is now my professional decobber. Ha ha.

We don’t have a popcorn popper, but my friend Ceci taught me that you can put popcorn kernels into a plain paper lunch bag, seal and microwave. Snack Girl clearly describes how to do this here. It’s great because there is no need to have any special equipment nor use any oil!

1/4 cup popcorn kernels...

... into my popcorn popper!

Popcorn is a healthy snack because in three full cups there are just 93 calories, 3.6 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. It’s the toppings that can put us over the edge if we aren’t careful.

Here is my current favorite combination of toppings:

  • Wildtree European Dipping Oil – either the Tuscan or the Garlic
    • This is combination of expeller pressed grapeseed oil {which is actually better for you than olive oil!}, garlic and other herbs.
    • I know. It’s oil, so it adds calories. But I only drizzle a half Tbsp for a two to three cup bowl of popcorn. That’s approximately 60 calories.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
    • This is the real deal. Forget the parmesan in the green can.
    • I want quality over quantity.
    • Take that quality a notch higher and get the fresh wedge and grate it when you use it. I just like having a big ol’ container from Costco like the one above so I can sprinkle it quickly on anything.
    • Only 20 calories per Tbsp!
  • Rosemary Herb Seasoning Mix from Pampered Chef – season to taste
    • This is one of my absolute favorite seasonings, but you could use any seasoning you like.

My popcorn concoction: 173 calories

You can throw in an extra Tbsp of the Parm if you love it. and you’re still under 200 calories!

Ready for a movie? If so, pop one in, curl up and give this one a try.

Note: This is not Rob’s favorite way to eat popcorn, so we make ours separately. He’ll add some butta or some cheddar seasoning to his. No matter what, we are sure to Season It Already! The possibilities are endless…

What is your favorite way to eat popcorn?