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Wine & Cheese Pairings in Ashland, Oregon

Mt. Shasta viewed from rest stop in Weed, California

The unique, Shakespeare-oriented town of Ashland, Oregon was where we enjoyed another quest for Wow! pairings of specific wineries’ wines with specific cheeses. We chose to savor our wine and cheese pairings on a sunny pond-side bench in the beautifully landscaped Lithia Park which lies between picturesque Lithia Creek and the three dramatic theatres of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Previously, at the Ashland Food Co-op (237 North First Street) we purchased two amazing Rogue Valley wines and three artisan cheeses by Oregon cheesemakers.

The Wine

We chose Daisy Creek Vineyard’s 2007 Viognier and the Cowhorn Vineyard 2007 Syrah. Both of these award-winning wineries are in historic Jacksonville, Oregon a few miles from Ashland and a fun place to visit.

The Cheese

Elizabethan Theatre in Ashland

We paired five cheeses with the two wines : Rogue Creamery’s Oregon Blue and Smokey Blue; Oak Leaf Creamery’s Tomme; and a Swiss and a Cheddar that we purchased from the Greenleaf
Restaurant deli counter (49 N. Main St.)

Our Wow! Combinations

As we sat on our bench watching the resident Mallard ducks float and swim, we swirled, sniffed and sipped the special wines, savored the delicious cheeses, and then recorded our various responses to these combinations. Predictably, we discovered several Wow! experiences.

(Remember there are no “wrong answers” in Wow! pairings. One person’s individual taste buds, olfactory sensors, and mind-state can produce a Wow! response to the interaction of a specific wine with a specific cheese while another person may not get a Wow! experience from that combination, but does find a Wow! effect from a completely different wine and cheese pairing.)

Barbara, Norm and daughter Rhonda all experienced “Wow!” sensations with the combination  of the Swiss cheese and the Viognier. It’s a perfect pairing with both wine and cheese light and refreshing; excellently balanced so the flavors of the cheese and the wine were maintained as the fruitiness of the is classic Viognier complimented the mild, smoothness of the American cow’s milk cheese.

Norm experienced a Wow! in the combination of the Syrah and the raw, cow/goat milk Oregon Blue cheese. The cheese and wine enhanced each other with a pleasing balanced new flavor created by their magical interaction on the palate. The velvety, intense, full-bodied Syrah played perfecty with the pungent, sharp and tangy flavor of the cheese, forming a new intriguing flavor and a lingering, satisfying aftertaste.

Rhonda exclaimed “Wow!: when she combined the Tomme cheese with the Viognier as she enjoyed a progressive sensation of buttery, creamy, almondness. Barbara also was intrigued by the almond/lychee flavors that evolved in this remarkable pairing.

Barbara said “Wow!” when she paired the Syrah with the Smokey Blue cheese, describing a distinctive lingering pepper flavor that developed as the bold, pungency of the cheese worked with the full-bodied Syrah for a very dramatic sensation.

Rhonda described another “Wow!” when the Viognier pleasantly enhanced the smokiness of the Smokey Blue cheese. Having expected that the sharpness of the cheese would overpower the fruity wine, she found instead that the combination resulted the exceptional smokey flavor especially on the sides of her tongue and the back of her mouth. It’s great fun to find a surprise “Wow!”

On to future Wow! pairing discoveries

So that’s our report on this venture. We are thoroughly enjoying our visits to wineries and cheesemakers/cheese vendors and picturesque locations for our tasting experiences, and we hope you are also venturing to find your Wow! combinations. When you do, please let us know what you have discovered.