Summer picnic basket wine and cheese pairings


(StatePoint) It’s finally picnic season, and there’s no reason to stick to basic flavors when dining al fresco.

“My mantra is ‘eat cheese, drink wine, and live life happy,’” says R. Kent Torrey, president and CEO (aka, “Cheese Eating Oenophile”) of The Cheese Shop, Inc., in Carmel, CA, which features wine, gastronomic gourmet foods, and on any given day up to 200 different cheeses.

To help make your basket-and-blanket feast delicious, he has shared two picnic basket ideas for lovers of both white and red wine.

White Wine
Bright, clean and balanced wines are ideal to enjoy in the sun. Consider Sequoia Grove Napa Valley Chardonnay, which has a crisp finish that is ideal for pairing with cheese.

Pair it with Pilota, a creamy cow and sheep milk blend cheese from the French Pyrénées. The rich cow’s milk offers a nice contrast to the wine’s crisp finish, while the sheep milk’s slightly salty tang emphasizes the Chardonnay’s fruity flavors.

Another cheese pairing to consider is Grafton Village’s Truffle Cheddar from Vermont; the subtle, earthy truffles pair well with the vibrant fruit and crisp acidity in the Chardonnay.

For some added nibbles to complete your picnic, throw in some wildflower honey straws to complement the cheese, along with Greek mix olives, salami, Marcona almonds, and cranberry hazelnut bread.

Red Wine
For those who prefer red wine, Sequoia Grove Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is a deliciously versatile food-friendly selection that features blackberry and red cherry flavors, sweet spice notes, and smooth tannins.

Pair this wine with full-flavored nutty cheeses such as Fourmage, a Dutch Gouda made of cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo milk, that has a subtle earthiness to match this concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon.

Another pairing to consider is Comté Cyclaman, a special late winter release from the Jura Mountains in France, which has nutty, fruit forward flavors from cow’s milk, along with “crunchy crystals,” (natural minerals found in milk that crystalize from extended cheese aging), that accentuate the dynamic red berry fruits in the wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon picnic basket “must haves” include dry tart cherries to pique the red fruit notes of the wine, as well as walnuts that marry well with the balanced tannins of the Cabernet.

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