Matching Wine and Chevre

The Saint-Marcellin Problem

Saint-Marcellin is a good cheese to illustrate the problems of acidity, tannins and butterfat in both wine and cheese. The question is what to pair with a goat cheese that comes in a little clay taurine which can vary in fat content and acidity at different ages. Should we use a crisp Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc) or a strong White Burgundy (Chardonnay) or even a red Bordeaux? Iíve heard all three recommended. I think it may be useful to start with the principle of matching higher butterfat in a cheese to higher tannins in the wine.

A crisp, limestone Sancerre is probably better with a younger, less fatty chevre. The wine also needs to have enough acidity (increases saliva) to mitigate any dryness in the cheese. This should not be a problem since most Sancerres are fairly acidic. And furthermore, most genuine chevres (not that supermarket junk) donít even require much mitigation anyway. That is to say they only a suggest dryness/chalkiness, but in reality are perfectly smooth already. And then again, it comes down to simply matching flavors (e.g. a grassy chevre for a grassy Sancerre, and so on).

The older chevre with high butterfat, softness (and probably more acidity too because of ripening) would go with the more tannic White Burgundy or even light Bordeaux. The official line is that the tannins in the wine ďcutĒ the fat of the cheese. (Iím not exactly sure what that means, but I do find that the tannins somehow make the experience of the fat in the cheese seem more pleasant?). The acidity question is probably already addressed by the fact that neither the cheese nor the wine is too dry (with all the fat in both of them). So then it simply becomes a question of matching flavor.

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