Friday, March 21, 2014

A toast to Brie & Camembert!

What would be a good drink to wash down soft cow's milk cheeses like Brie and Camembert? 

A light bodied red wine could work with the cheese's interior paste, but the tannins in red wine can cause the exterior rind to taste metallic.

We could cut away the bloomy white rind and try our cheese with a light bodied, low tannin red wine such as Beaujolais or Pinot Noir, but let's avoid the metallic taste problem all together and pick a white wine. 

Hey, come on now, try a white wine! Just this once! 
It won't be that bad, I promise!

These cheeses will be very creamy, rich, and mouth coating, so we need for a white wine with enough body and acidity to stand up to them. This is a French cheese, so let's try a wine made with grape varieties originally from France's Rhone Valley. The most common are Marsanne, Rousanne, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc.

Wysling's Band of Sisters is a blend of Marsanne, Rousanne, and Grenache Blanc grapes grown in Washington State.

I like the honeysuckle, herbal tea, and asian pear aromas and flavors. This wine has a good amount of body, nice acidity, and the flavors play well not just with Brie and Camembert, but with a wide variety of food. This wine is a great value.

I also like Domaine Lafage Côté Est, which is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Chardonnay, and Marsanne. This wine comes from the south of France near the Spanish border and has aromas of dried apricots, citrus, and white flowers.

Côté Est is a little lighter bodied and a little brighter tasting than the Band of Sisters, and it's also super affordable.

Sparkling wine pairs well with Brie and Camembert.

Sparkling wine is a good choice because the carbonation helps to cleanse your palate between bites of the gooey, creamy cheese. 

We could talk about Champagne, but let's stay on a budget and look for something less expensive.

I like Torre Oria Brut Cava, which is made from a Spanish grape called Macabeo. This cava is crisp and dry - imagine eating green apples on toast while smelling white flowers.

Torre Oria is inexpensive ($8 at Esquin)! Talk about great bang for your buck! I'm considering buying a shipping container full of this and drinking cava every day.

How about a beer?
A wheat beer would complement the flavor of these cheeses without overpowering them.

Take some time to search out Boulevard Brewing Unfiltered Wheat, which has the subtle aromas of a Bavarian Hefeweisen with a Northwest-style citrusy foundation.

Brie and Camembert would also pair well with your favorite pale ale. I like Sierra Nevada Pale ale, which has some citrus notes, some malty sweetness, and a bread-like quality that works well with Brie and Camembert. Most pale ales work with these types of cheeses.

Camembert is traditionally paired with Normandy cider.

The hard apple cider that comes from Normandy is a natural pairing with either Brie or Camembert. You could also pair these cheeses with an apple cider from Finn River or Seattle Cider Company.

Camembert is also often paired with Calvados, an apple brandy made in Normandy.

Sometimes I substitute Clear Creek Distillery's Eau de Vie de Pomme for Calvados.

This is an Oregon-made apple brandy that's been aged in French oak barrels for 8 years. It holds its own against Calvados.


You could also use this brandy in a Sidecar:
  • 1 oz. Brandy 
  • 1 oz. Cointreau 
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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