We visited Healdsburg, California in Sonoma County with the goal of experiencing Wow! combinations of specific wines and specific cheeses … and we found two Wow! pairings that we want to tell you about. By the way, if you hadn’t guessed, we define a Wow! pairing as one that you find so enjoyable you involuntarily say “Wow!” during the tasting process, usually because (1) there is perfect harmony between the wine and the cheese; they are in balance with no battle for taste dominance by the wine or the cheese, (2) there is a pronounced enhancement of either the flavor of the wine by the cheese, or of the cheese by the wine, or (3) there is a new taste surprise from the interaction with ongoing bursts of new flavor sensations and lingering pleasant aftertaste.
We began our adventure at the downtown plaza in Healdsburg where we purchased a chunk of Carmody cheese at Oakville Grocery at the corner of Matheson Street and Center Street. Oakville Grocery has a very good selection of domestic cheeses and Kat Zaneline and Chris Wippert know their cheeses and make great recommendations. Then we drove north on Healdsburg Ave. to Big John’s Market at the corner of Healdsburg Avenue and Dry Creek Road where we bought Pierre Robert cheese. The cheesemonger there is Mike Haney who is very knowledgable abount all of their enormous offering of imported and domestic cheeses.
Next we drove west to the Ferrari-Carano winery at 8761 Dry Creek Road where Jacqueline Denier and John Daniels served tastings of four excellent wines: 2007 Chardonnay, Carneros appellation; 2008 Viognier, Alexander Valley appellation; 2007 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley appellation; and 2005 Sangiovese, Alexander Valley appellation.
The Wow! Pairings
We savored all of the wines, paired them all with the two cheeses we had with us, and discovered two Wow! combinations … one for each of us. Here they are:
Norm’s Wow! pairing was the Pierre Robert triple-cream cheese (made by Fromagerie Rouzaire in France) interacting with the 2008 Viognier’s floral, citrus and oak aromas and flavor. The combination produced a pleasant peppery new flavor with a long, evolving aftertaste including surprising new taste bursts.
Barbara’s Wow! pairing was the Pierre Robert cheese with the 2007 Chardonnay with it’s oaky, creamy aromas and flavors. The combination was in perfect balance, a completely harmonious and pleasing sensation.
We also picked up some expert recommendations for future pairings. Jacqueline Denier said that a double-cream Gouda paired with the Ferrari-Carano 2007 Chardonnay is a Wow! combination for her. And Mike Haney opined that the Pierre Robert cheese pairs extremely well with Champagne or Sauternes.
The Wow! Search Continues
You may wonder why we embarked on this very pleasant project of searching for Wow! pairings. It all started when we authored and published Wine & Cheese Pairing Guide: Your Exciting Search for Wow! Combinations. We knew we thoroughly enjoyed good wines and good cheeses. After extensive research and experimentation we published our award-winning guidebook that features Wine Basics, Cheese Basics, Pairing Basics, Pairing Recommendations (Cheese & Wine Pairing Recommendations and Wine & Cheese Pairing Recommendations), and a programmed journal where you can fill in information describing your tastings in “My Favorite Pairings.” Of course, we are using this book and find it invaluable as we continue our very enjoyable search for Wow! combinations.
Your Wow! Pairings
Have you discovered your Wow! pairing of a wine and a cheese? Since there are more than a thousand wines and a thousand cheeses in the world, the number of combinations is mind-boggling — literally over a million potential combinations. And don’t forget … since everyone has a unique set of taste buds and olfactory nerve cells, the perfect pairings of wines and cheeses are ultimately a matter of personal experience. There are no wrong answers. If it a Wow! to you, then it is a Wow! combination.