When it comes to indulging in the pleasures of a delectable cheese dish, there’s something truly magical about experiencing the transformation that occurs when cheese meets heat. The flavours intensify, the textures evolve, and the result is an irresistible culinary experience. To elevate this experience even further, we must carefully consider the wine pairings that complement and enhance the flavours of these cooked cheese dishes. In this blog post, we will explore some delightful wine pairings for popular cooked cheese dishes and delve into the science behind the melting process.
Chianti Classico with Salami and Gorgonzola Pizza:
A classic Italian pairing, Chianti Classico Riserva with salami and gorgonzola pizza is a match made in culinary heaven. This powerful and full-bodied red wine from Tuscany, possesses a well-balanced acidity and plum and black cherry fruity notes that cut through the richness of the gorgonzola cheese and complements the savoury salami. The wine has been aged in oak which gives it a smokey, charred wood aroma and softens the Tannins. The wine’s tannins provide a pleasant contrast to the creamy texture of the melted cheese, creating a harmonious balance on the palate.
Pinot Noir with Mac and Cheese:
Mac and Cheese is the epitome of comfort food, and pairing it with a delicate yet flavourful wine is essential. Pinot Noir, known for its versatility and elegance, pairs beautifully with this cheesy delight. Its red fruit flavours and subtle earthy undertones harmonise with the creamy, cheesy goodness of the dish. The wine’s medium body and smooth tannins enhance the overall experience, creating a delightful balance of flavours.
Sauvignon Blanc with Cauliflower Cheese:
For those seeking a lighter option, the combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Cauliflower Cheese is a fantastic choice. The crisp acidity and vibrant citrus flavours of Sauvignon Blanc perfectly complement the richness of the dish without overwhelming it. The wine’s herbal and grassy notes add a refreshing contrast to the creamy cauliflower cheese, resulting in a harmonious pairing that is both light and satisfying.
Chardonnay with Baked Camembert:
Baked Camembert, with its gooey texture and nutty flavours, calls for a wine that can hold its own. Chardonnay, particularly an oaked version, offers the necessary weight and depth to stand up to the creamy indulgence of baked camembert. The wine’s buttery texture and notes of vanilla and toasted oak create a luxurious pairing that elevates the flavours of both the cheese and the wine.
Greek Assyrtiko with Halloumi Salad:
Halloumi, a popular cheese from Cyprus known for its firm texture and salty taste, pairs wonderfully with Greek Assyrtiko wine. Assyrtiko’s crisp acidity and citrusy profile harmonise with the salty notes of the halloumi, creating a refreshing and vibrant pairing. The wine’s minerality and distinct character add complexity to the overall experience, making it a delightful combination for a summer salad.
Falanghina Wine with Baked Feta Tomato Pasta:
The marriage of baked feta and tomato pasta with Falanghina wine is a celebration of Mediterranean flavours. Falanghina, a white wine from Italy, offers a bouquet of citrus, floral, and tropical fruit aromas that complement the tanginess of the feta cheese and the acidity of the tomato sauce. The wine’s crispness and lively acidity cleanse the palate between bites, ensuring an enjoyable and well-rounded experience.
The Science of Melted Cheese:
When cheese is subjected to heat, its molecular structure begins to change. The heat causes the proteins in the cheese to unwind and break apart, resulting in a loss of structure and a release of fat and moisture. This transformation gives melted cheese its characteristic gooey texture and intensifies its flavours. Additionally, the heat can enhance the aroma compounds in the cheese, leading to a more pronounced and complex taste profile.
Baked Feta Tomato Pasta Recipe:
- 1000g cherry or plum tomatoes
- 1 shallot or half a white onion, quartered
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- Chilli flakes or chopped fresh chillis
- 1 (200g) block feta cheese
- 3 sprigs thyme or dried fennel
- 285g pasta
- Zest of 1 lemon or orange (optional)
- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (180ºC fan).
- In an oven-safe skillet or medium baking dish, combine the tomatoes, shallot, garlic, and most of the olive oil (be generous!). Season with salt and chilli flakes, then toss to combine. Put it in the oven and bake for 20 mins.
- Place the block of feta cheese in the centre of the tomato mixture and drizzle the top with the remaining olive oil. Scatter the thyme sprigs over the tomatoes.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tomatoes are bursting and the feta cheese turns golden on top.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the package instructions. Reserve 120ml of pasta water before draining.
- Once the tomato and feta mixture is done baking, remove it from the oven. Add the cooked pasta, reserved pasta water, and lemon zest (if using) to the skillet or baking dish. Stir until everything is well combined.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving.
Exploring the world of cooked cheese dishes is an adventure for the senses, and finding the perfect wine pairing can elevate the experience to new heights. Whether it’s the robust flavours of Chianti with salami and gorgonzola pizza or the delicate nuances of Pinot Noir with Mac and Cheese, the right wine enhances the flavours, textures, and overall enjoyment of these dishes. So, the next time you indulge in a melty cheese delight, remember to uncork a bottle of wine that will complement and elevate the experience, turning an ordinary meal into an extraordinary one. Cheers to the pleasures of melted cheese and the perfect wine pairings!