Monday, May 2, 2011

A Food and Wine Treat

The Fourth Annual Pebble Beach Food and Wine event took place last week.  It’s quite a spectacular series of special dinners, classes, demonstrations, and wine tastings with some of the luminaries of the restaurant and wine worlds.  We decided to partake, so off we went to a class called “Seduction: A Love Affair Between Cheese and Wine with Laura Werlin and the Decadent Wines of Domaine Serene.”
 It was held in a tented pavilion at Spanish Bay.  We blew in —literally since it was a very windy day—and nibbled our way to our demonstration locale.  We first had a mini soup and salad appetizer—a little cup of roasted onion soup topped with a curly leaf of lettuce which held little bits of lettuce and beets—followed by a mini basket of berries.  Then we found our way into the large tent which had elegant settings of five wines and a plate of cheeses and bread.
Laura Werlin, an expert on cheese and the author of Cheese Essentials and two books on grilled cheese, led the session.  (April is National Grilled Cheese month, by the way.) A dynamic, knowledgeable woman, she gave many insights on pairing.  We loved her comment that “We all taste things differently” and her overall philosophy that “Cheese and wine pairing is not a science.  It’s not even an art—but it’s a lot of fun.”  And that’s what we had.
For each of the wines, all of which were from Domaine Serene, Yamhill County, Willamette Valley in Oregon, she had us taste the wine first, then the cheese, then the wine again. Actually she had us take two sips of wine first—one to get the palate ready for what was to come, and the second to actually taste the wine. As for tasting cheese, Laura feels that the finish speaks to the quality of the cheese.  ‘Let it speak to you,” she said. 
Laura explained that it’s important to match the texture of the cheese with the texture of the wine. Some of our favorite combinations were Humboldt Fog cheese with the Domaine Serene “R” Rosé, a new wine which is a mixture of Syrah, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
Another pairing we enjoyed was the Willamette Valley Cheese Company Aged Gouda with Domaine Serene 2007 “Evenstad Reserve” Pinot Noir.  We also liked this Pinot with the Humboldt Fog. 
Yet another pairing that worked well for us was Bend Oregon’s Tumalo Farms “Rimrocker” cow and goat milk cheese, which Laura felt is very compatible with red wine.  We loved it with the Domaine Serene 2008 “Jerusalem Hill Vineyard” Pinot Noir. 
Although we were all a little concerned that the wind might blow the tent and us away, we did navigate the class successfully. Now we have some new cheese and wine pairing ideas to play with and enjoy.   Next year, we want to go to more events at this incredible food and wine extravaganza.  
 Care to join us?

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