Ah, the age-old love story that is cheese and wine. It’s a common pairing at events, dinner parties and, if we’re being honest, on a chill Friday night at home. What may be less common, however, is knowing which wines complement which cheeses, and why. Seven Long Island cheese aficionados provide the answer, offering up some of their favorite vintages from our vast and diverse region to pair with delicious cheeses.
Jamesport Vineyards Syrah and Geitenstee
I love the Jamesport Syrah paired with our Geitenstee (pronounced “Guy-tun-shtee”) Dutch goat gouda. The bright acidity and delicate tanginess of the Holland goat’s milk lifts perfectly the dense tannins of the Jamesport Syrah, highlighting the gaminess of this local red. Fireworks in the mouth!
Michael Affatato, owner, Village Cheese Shop, Mattituck
Macari Sauvignon Blanc Lifeforce and Catapano Dairy Farm Peconic Bel
We find that the Catapano Peconic Bel, a semi-firm sheep milk cheese, pairs perfectly with the Macari Vineyards 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Lifeforce wine. Peconic Bel is a mild ‘Bel Paese’ style cheese with a milky aroma and a mild, slightly buttery flavor. Macari’s Sauvignon Blanc has a crisp citrus flavor that seems to awaken the hidden tastes of the cheese.
Patty Kaczmarczyk, owner, Cheese and Spice Market, Wading River
Bridge Lane White Merlot and Honey Chèvre
The Bridge Lane White Merlot goes really fantastic with a honey chèvre we carry from Canada. It’s a fresh, tangy goat’s milk infused with local honey. It’s a little more delicate and sweet — similar to something you would crumble on a salad or, at room temperature, something you can spread. We try to bring out the food in our wine pairings to create balance, and this cheese breaks down with the wine’s acidity, making a really delicious pairing.
Paige Pfeifer, owner, Cheese Patch, Patchogue
Macari Vineyards Collina Merlot and Marcel Petit Comte
One of the most popular Long Island wines that we serve here, and my personal favorite, is the Macari Vineyards Collina Merlot. The red fruit notes and chewiness make it a nice match with the Marcel Petit Comte we carry, which is a 16-month-old French Alpine-style cheese. Think Gruyère, but with more nutty notes of brown butter and a pleasant meatiness, as well as some stone fruit notes of its own, which carry through really well to the wine.
Joe Ciardullo, owner, C’est Cheese, Port Jefferson
One Woman Vineyards Gewürztraminer and Mecox Bay Dairy Bascom Blue
One Woman Vineyards’ Gewürztraminer is excellent with Mecox Bay Dairy Bascom blue cheese, which is like a blue cheddar. With the wine being a little sweeter it will bring out a little bit of a smoky quality in the cheese; it has a lot going on. Something a bit stronger, like McCall’s Cabernet Franc, paired with the cheese doesn’t overwhelm the palate as it’s a little more traditional. Both are great but unique choices.
Dave Striffler, owner, Brew Cheese, Stony Brook and Northport
Bedell Cellars Sparkling Rosé and Ricotta
Making homemade ricotta is always my go-to when entertaining and it pairs beautifully with the Bedell Sparkling Rosé. Top the ricotta with some flaky sea salt and local honey and that, combined with the bubbles, is what makes this pairing so deliciously fun.
Lauren Lombardi, chef and owner, Lombardi’s Love Lane Market, Mattituck
This story was originally published in the Fall 2017 edition of the Long Island Wine Press