Wine no Match for Cheese?

Articles
April 21, 2010

Wine no Match for Cheese?

Wine is seen as a natural pair for food, its flavor is known to compliment and enhance many dishes, has a relatively low alcohol content as compared to spirits and, has been drunk in food centric cultures for centuries as an accompaniment to food.

Wine is seen as a natural pair for food, its flavor is known to compliment and enhance many dishes, has a relatively low alcohol content as compared to spirits and, has been drunk in food centric cultures for centuries as an accompaniment to food. There are hundreds if not thousands of how to guides on the topic, and consumers are more apt than ever to have a glass or two with lunch or dinner. In the past ten years, according to the Wine Market Council the frequency of casual wine drinking has increased; consumers are enjoying and toasting with the fruit of the vine more often.

However, this age old notion has been turned on its head; a University of California at Davis study revealed that most red wine and cheese pairings did not compliment each other and actually, the cheese was found to mute the complex flavors of the wine. The results of this study obviously outraged wine and cheese connoisseurs, whose passion and livelihood came crumbling down like a good feta cheese. The study found that cheese muted both desirable traits like berry character and less desirable traits like astringency and bell pepper- hey at least now we know how to mask a less than desirable wine at a dinner party. “It was an equal-opportunity silencer, exhibiting largely the same effect on each varietal, pricey and not,” commented the study’s author.

So what are wine and cheese diehards to do, and what about supermarkets that promote the parings and often host in store tastings? The study’s advisor, sensory scientist Hildegard Heymann feels that the results are due to a cognitive effect. “In other words, it’s in our heads…and you shouldn’t worry about which wine you have with which cheese…have the wine you love with the cheese you love.” SupermarketGuru.com agrees and feels that if you enjoy a certain paring, whether it’s considered “normal” or backed up by science or not, it all comes down to personal preference.

Choosing from a variety of beverages, including spirits and beer in the market gives shoppers the opportunity to try new things. Suggested pairings and tastings are always appreciated, - although they might not be supported by science- increase shopper awareness of what’s in store, and demonstrate new varied ways to incorporate ingredients and foods into every day life.

More details, and the full study, Sensory Effect of Consuming Cheese Prior to Evaluating Red Wine Flavor, can be found in theAmerican Journal of Enology and Viticulture.