I enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner most nights, and I like it to have a bit of bite; you know, that sharp and astringent feel in the mouth after you swallow. Recently, I have developed an interest in wine tasting so that I can better pick a wine that I might like when I’m at the store. In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to taste some higher-end wines, and, although I was able to tell that they were different from the regular wines you get, I could never articulate what that difference was. So when I received a complimentary Wine & Cheese Experience from Reif Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, I had to go.
The experience was lead by a sommelier, in this case, Archie Hood, an internationally accredited sommelier who loves to teach people about wine and food. The tasting consisted of four Reif Estates Niagara region wines: two whites, a red, and an icewine. The wines were paired with Ontario-made artisan cheeses.
The first was a 2010 White Meritage paired with Mountainoak Wild Nettle Gouda. The second was a 2011 Chardonnay Reserve paired with 5 Brothers cheese from Gunn’s Hill Farms. The third was a 2010 Merlot Reserve paired with Thornloe Cheddar. The final was a 2012 Vidal Icewine paired with Glengarry Celtic Blue Reserve.
The tasting consisted of tasting the wine, cleansing the palate, sampling the cheese, and finally holding the melted cheese in your mouth as you took a sip of wine, thereby combining the two. All the wines were extremely good on their own, but it was combining them with the cheese that the ah-ha moment happened. The wild nettle gouda brought out an umami earthiness that you just don’t get with white wines. The butterscotch flavours of the Chardonnay were made fruitier and brighter by the Gunn Hill’s 5 Brothers. The intense tannins of the Merlot were softened by the Thornloe Cheddar. The biggest ah-ha was saved for last. The combination of the super-sweet Vidal Icewine with the intense saltiness of the Glengarry Blue was incredible. The sweet and salty flavours combined to a wonderful sweet-saltiness that tasted like candied peanuts. Amazing.