Classic gastronomic literature has laid out simple rules for pairing wine and cheese for centuries, ever since lovers of good food started ending all their meals with one or more cheeses alongside the wine that they enjoyed with their other courses.
Over the past few decades, tastes have changed. In our quest for exquisite dining experiences, we have learned to love creating harmonies which respect the organoleptic qualities of each meal, and gourmet diners are also more liberal in their choice of wine. Their own tastes are as much a criterion as the perfect pairing.
Fans of cheese have often been forced to forget the classics because these have, unfortunately, fallen into obsolescence in many cases, and they are now using taste as a measuring stick, taking into account a product’s organoleptic qualities. Our thinking around cheese is therefore no longer dogmatic, pairing a particular cheese with a particular wine – this sort of collective truism has become outmoded and passé.
Cheese tasting now prizes diversification.
Contemporary gastronomy has opened the floodgates when it comes to diversity of flavours. As a result, beverages other than wine are now potential accompaniments to cheese. An emphasis on new discoveries and opportunity opens the field up to combinations where the only criterion is tasting pleasure. Cheeses have found a new place in this context: they are no longer only eaten with bread at the end of a meal as French tradition dictates, they are now enjoyed whatever the time of day, whichever way consumers fancy.
By including eaux-de-vie, whiskies, beers, teas, syrups, ciders and other beverages (such as fruit nectars) we have opened up new areas to explore in our palates.
It is not a question of pairing beverages and cheeses at random, but, as with wine, knowing how to use and plan the right temperatures, drink types, harmonies and stimuli during tasting sessions. The only thing that counts during a tasting session is gourmet pleasure.