Good food makes good wine taste better

What could be a more apt way to describe the Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine’s event Cheese, Wine, Cheese, Wine?

That the event, in some shape or form, has been running since the inception of the festival, that is, for 15 years, says a lot about its popularity on the festival calendar.

The seminar was co hosted by Rainer Wilkins of Gray Monk Estate Winery and Wolfgang Stampe, of the Dairy Farms of Canada.

We were promptly told by Rainer Wilkins of Gray Monk that the proper way to enjoy cheese and wine was that wine should be sipped before a bite of cheese, and therefore the event should probably be called Wine, Cheese, Wine, Cheese!

An assortment of sparkling, white and red wines were provided by Gray Monk, and among them were its Rose Brut, a fruity but refreshingly crisp sparkling wine, which Wilkins explained, like other sparkling wines, is commonly used to refresh your palate following an overload of other flavours. In this case, too much cheese.

Cheeses were sourced from across Canada courtesy of the Dairy Farmers of Canada. B.C. was represented by Natural Pastures’ Comox Camembert and one of its specialty’s, Boerenkaas.

While tasting our first wine and cheese combination, the Rose Brut and the Camembert, we were given a lesson on how to best taste cheese. Firstly, cheese should be viewed, then smelt to give the brain a chance to process what it’s about to enjoy. It should then be placed on the tongue, left for a moment, chewed and aerated before swallowing.

Wilkins also began to explain the fifth basic taste that cheese contains, umami, a savoury taste derived from L-glutamate, an amino acid. Umami compliments the four other flavours: sweet, sour, bitter and salty.

One of the highlights of the seminar was tasting the Boerenkaas—a young, un-pressed, seasonally produced cheddar. The Boerenkaas wowed the crowd with its rich, sweet caramel and creamy flavours.

Another highlight was the spicy Gewürztraminer, a variety of white wine that bore an aroma of rose petals and was well paired well with the semi-firm sweet yet buttery and creamy Baluchon.

At the top end of the flavour scale was the Italian Gorgonzola, a pungent but mild creamy blue, paired with a Port-style or fortified wine, Gray Monk’s Odyssey III, which contained 20 per cent port.

After we had tasted all cheeses paired with their respective wines, we were told to go back and taste cheeses with other wines. Unsurprisingly, each tasting was a different experience.

With over eight tantalising cheeses and vibrant wines to choose from the experience of aromas and tastes was as varied as from cream, butter, fungus, stone fruit, earth and many, many more.

For more on Gray Monk Estate Winery, visit their website: www.graymonk.com

For more on the Sun Peaks Resort Winter Festival of Wine visit: www.sunpeaksresort.com

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