ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on March 7, 2016

Cheese and wine go together as beautifully as friends and wine, hence the delightful abundance of this successful trio at a recent tasting at Aspens Signature Steaks in Marietta. Guests gathered to sample local cheeses crafted by Thomasville's Sweet Grass Dairy, which were served with international wines provided by United Distributors. Aspens’ Executive Chef John Sweeney did all the pairings, and he, along with chefs from sister restaurants MADE Kitchen & Cocktails and Theo’s Brother’s Bakery, whipped up a variety of goodies to complement the evening’s repast. It was the perfect primer on cheese and the many accoutrements that help to make it the perfect party in your mouth.

“As with any dish, you’re looking for balance and mouthfeel,” explains Sweeney about how to approach cheese as a dish and not just an ingredient served atop crackers. “Mouthfeel makes you want more; balance makes your mouth happy.” Serving cheese with harmonious components can bridge the gap from blah to bang! The cheese’s character dictates whether you serve it with nuts, berries, homemade lavash, Marcona almonds—the sky’s the limit. “When I’m doing a stinky blue cheese, for instance, I make sure there’s some acid to cut the fat and something sweet to offset the pungency, like a local honey or my dark cherry compote. (Sweeney likes the versatility of cheeses made with goat milk, which can successfully cozy up to a wide range of ingredients.

Obvious cheese plate pairings include pâté as well as cured meats which, for the chef “add a whole different flavor profile. Cheese and meat go together like peas and carrots.” And don’t overlook the wonderful vinegar-laced world of chow-chow, olives and pickles of any sort. “Homemade pickled vegetables are perfect for an appetizer cheese. And since I think vinegar goes with cheese, I like to make a balsamic or apple cider vinegar reduction and drizzle or smear it on the plate or present it in a little bowl,” elaborates the chef. Head for compotes, honeys, jams and jellies for a sweeter hit. One of Sweeney’s favorite companions for cheese is smoked nuts, which deliver a delicious umami flavor. “It’s inexplicable, but the reaction in your mouth makes you want more—like bacon. It makes you want to go back for a second bite.”

Adding wine to the mix only adds to the fun. The chef advises not to put too many restrictions on your wine selection. “Just make sure the pairing is balanced,” he says. “Look at the flavors of the ingredients—acidity, sweetness, fat—and try to hit all the flavors on the tongue. Strong, slightly bitter cheeses are complemented by a lighter, sweeter wine. For instance, I love a Sauvignon Blanc with a stinky cheese; the citric nature cuts the pungency but it’s also smooth and playful.”

If you’re entertaining with just cheese, meat and the like, the chef says it’s best to serve a nice medium body, medium acidity, drinkable wine that doesn’t need food to go with it. “That way guests can walk around and talk and pick at the cheese board. Neither the cheese nor the wine is the star of the show—the people are,” says Sweeney. “If the cheese is a course, the flavor profile matters the most. A lot of people use cheese plates as a dessert. Some of the sweeter wines go better in that scenario, such as a port, a Gewürztraminer, or a light, playful wine,” he says. Of course, sometimes just the basics are the way to go. “The greatest thing in the world is Brie scooped up with pieces of hot baguette. It’s such an awesome thing that I just keep it simple.” Say cheese!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)