Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Which Wine Should You Serve With A Burger?

Over at Serious Eats Joshua Wesson (the "Sommelier To Go") gives some helpful advice on choosing the right sort of wine to drink with your hamburger.

Yes, wine can be paired with low-brow food. Joshua Wesson also has a video segment on pairing wine and pizza, but it is less enjoyable to watch than the one about burgers.

I can still remember when I first discovered that Cabernet Sauvignon goes well with chocolate-flavored energy bars. None of my friends at the time believed me when I told them how nice this pairing was. It turns out that dry reds go well with all sorts of chocolate desserts. You don't need a dessert wine to drink with every dessert.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What's a "Double Cream" Gouda?

Many people who have tasted Double Cream Gouda don't know what 'Double Cream' means. It is a measure of how much butterfat the cheese contains. 40% to 45% of the solid material in the average cheese is butterfat. If a cheese's butterfat content is between 60% and 74%, it is labeled 'Double Cream.' If its butterfat content is 75% or more, it is considered 'Triple Cream.'

Most cheeses are between 50% and 70% water. The rest consists of protein, fat and other dry solids. Because cheeses are constantly losing moisture to the surrounding air, designations such as 'Double Cream' or 'Triple Cream' are based only upon the percentage of dry matter in the cheese that is butterfat. (U.S. cheesemakers use the term 'IDM' (for "in dry matter") and the French use 'm.g.' (for "matière grasse") to indicate that their percentages do not take a cheese's water content into account.)

Note: If a cheese is labeled as 60% butterfat, that doesn't mean that 60% of all the material in the cheese is butterfat. Because this designation is based only upon the solid material in cheese and because cheese is at least half water, a cheese labeled "60% butterfat" will actually be about 30% butterfat.

Double Cream Gouda is a cow's milk cheese from Holland that is touted for its creamy, mellow flavor. I personally do not care for it. It's not too much of an overstatement to say that it tastes rather like spreadable cream and only a little bit like cheese. When advertisers describe Double Cream Gouda as "one of Holland's mellowest cheeses," what they are indicating is that it doesn't have much personality as a cheese. The butterfat in the cheese is the primary component of its flavor.

Although I cannot recommend Double Cream Gouda, I thought I would at least explain it since it is commonly served at parties.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Niagara Icewine Festival

The 12th Niagara Icewine Festival will take place Jan. 19-28, 2007, in the Niagara region of southern Ontario. In addition to the tastings and events that will be held at Niagara's various wineries, special events will also be held at the Sheraton Hotel overlooking Niagara Falls, the Niagara College Teaching Winery, and the square in St. Catherines, ON. The 10-day event will attract some 150,000 visitors to the Niagara region for a festival of sweet indulgence.
Icewine is the flagship product of Ontario's wine region. It is made from grapes frozen at temperatures below -8°C/17°F . When the grapes are crushed, much of the H2O remains inside the grape in the form of ice crystals. The juice that is collected from the crushing process is thus more concentrated and contains higher percentages of sugar and other flavoring components than juice from unfrozen grapes. The result is a very sweet, dense dessert wine that is a pleasure to drink.

If you will be in southern Ontario or western New York during this time, be sure to check out this special event. If you can't make it, stay tuned to Corks and Curds and I will tell you all about it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Porter Cheese: A Party Favorite

One of my favorite cheeses to serve at parties is Cahill's Irish Porter Cheese. This is a pasteurized cow's milk cheese. The Cahills brew their own porter--a dark brown ale--on their farm in Limerick and add it to the curds. In addition to giving the cheese a wonderful and unique brown marbling, the porter also imparts a distinctive sweetness to the cheese.

The cheese works well at parties because its mild and creamy flavor is quite accessible. It allows cheese novices to experience something out of the ordinary without demanding too much of them. I highly recommend this delicious cheese!

New Blog: Corks and Curds

I've decided to take up residence in the blogosphere here with my first blog. At this site I will be chronicling my gustatory adventures with wines and cheeses and offering some thoughts on buying and serving them. I buy practically all of my cheeses at Premier Gourmet and my wines next door at Prime Wines in Buffalo, NY. Both have wonderful selections and helpful service. I hope that my readers will find my posts to be enjoyable and useful.