The Perfect Match

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The Perfect Match
A STARTING-POINT
TETILLA AND PALE CREAM
RONCAL AND PEDRO XIMENEZ
GARROTXA AND OLOROSO
MANCHEGO AND MANZANILLA
CABRALES AND PEDRO XIMINEZ
IDIAZABAL AND PALO CORTADO

IBORES AND FINO
LA SERENA AND PEDRO XIMINEZ
IBIRICO AND CREAM
MAJORERO AND PALE CREAM
ZAMORANO AND CREAM
MAHON AND PALO CORTADO
Wine Chart
Cheese Chart
OPINIONS VARY ABOUT PAIRINGWINES WITH FOODS. SOME PEOPLE THINK IF A WINE IS OF GOOD QUALITY IT WILLGO WELL WITH ANYTHING, WHEREAS OTHERS TEND TO STICK TO A SINGLE FAVORITE,WHETHER IT BE RED, WHITE OR CAVA, AND ARE HAPPY TO DRINK IT WITH ANYTHING.

Both these approaches are perfectly valid because it isessentially a question of personal taste. There can be no dictates on likesor dislikes. If tastes are understood to be a source of pleasure, we haveto accept that they are a matter of individual preference. But those wholike to impose their own views of what is right and wrong have often utilizedthe question of wine. Such people insist that we should drink white winewith fish and shellfish and red wine with meat. According to this theory,harmony between a wine and a food depends on the color of the wine andthis, to me, seems to be an insult to the intelligence of wine-drinkers.In my opinion, color has nothing to do with it. The color of a wine isjust an accident of birth, a matter of esthetics. What really matters isits taste. Pairing wine with food is a question of balancing flavors. Agood relationship depends on combining flavors of similar intensity andthis approach, if successful, leads to a whole world of possibilities.When we try to find the right combination between a dish and a wine wehope to gain additional pleasure. It is not a matter of enjoying the foodon the one hand and the wine on the other but of enjoying both together,bringing together the sensory stimuli - the aromas and flavors - of boththe food and the drink.

This means that neither one nor the other should predominate.Neither the flavor of the wine should be stronger than that of the food,nor vice versa. The flavor and aroma of the wine should blend with thoseof the food-giving rise to different sensations that are generally muchmore complex, delicate, and pleasing.

A STARTING-POINT [TOP]

There is no absolute truth for partnering Sherries withcheese. The result of any combination may vary according to factors suchas the maturity of the cheese, the length of the ripening period, the typeof pasture the milk came from (summer grazing gives a milk with a muchlower fat content) or the stage of development of the wine. The findingsof the tasting-session, therefore, can serve only as an indication or astarting-point in the search for similar combinations. The name "sherry"is given to wines produced in the area of the Denomination of Origin forJerez-Xeres-Sheny and Manzanflla - Sanlucar de Barrameda, located in thewest of the province of Cadiz in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia.The Denomination of Origin covers 10,600 hectares (26,192 acres) of vineyards,94% of which grow the Palomino variety. Four per cent grow Pedro Xim6nezand the D.O. also allows two other white varieties - Palomino de Jerezand Moscatel. The personality of these wines and their international prestige(they are the best known of Spanish wines outside Spain) make this oneof the most important wine-growing areas of Spain.

TETILLA AND PALECREAM [TOP]

The basic characteristic of Tetilla cheese is the lightnessof its flavor, as with all cows' milk cheeses that are only lightly matured.Tetilla, produced in Galicia, in the northwest of Spain, is at its bestwhen cured for less than one month. It is a creamy, soft, and mild-flavoredcheese, which combines perfectly with the slight sweetness of Pale Cream.The bitter touch to the wine and its sweetness, help to recover the delicateflavor of the Tetilla and combine to give very subtle and pleasant, thoughshort-lasting, flavors. It is surprising to see that, although the flavorof Tetilla cheese is not persistent, when combined with Pale Cream itspresence on the palate lasts longer. The cheese flavor is prolonged andits personality is brought out.

RONCALAND PEDRO XIMENEZ [TOP]

Roncal is produced in the Roncal Valley in the Pyreneeswithin the Autonomous Community of Navarre to the north of Spain. It isa ewe's milk cheese with a springy texture and the cheese for the tasting-sessionis medium-cured. Its taste is slightly piquant, the tang combining wellwith the balanced sour and salty tastes. Its flavor is profound and persistent.The sweetness and raisin aroma of the Pedro Ximenez initially predominate,concealing the taste of the cheese, but gradually the wine taste losesintensity and blends with the cheese and the bitter, sour, sweet, and saltytones combine together giving rise to much more complex, mild, delicate,and very pleasant aromas.

GARROTXA AND OLOROSO[TOP]

Garrotxa cheese is produced in La Garrotxa in the provinceof Gerona, in the northeast comer of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia.We chose a short-cured cheese which is basically acid, being a goat's milkcheese. It has earthy, spicy aromas with plenty of nuances. The aftertasteis both sour and bitter.

The character of the Oloroso, especially it's smoky aromatictones, combines with those of the cheese, giving a multitude of nuances.The result is extremely elegant; the acidity gives way to the bitter notesgiving a complex mix of aromas. After a while, the acidity of the cheesecomes back.

MANCHEGO ANDMANZANILLA [TOP]

There is no more popular cheese nor any that is betterknown in Spain than Manchego, produced in the Community of Castile-La Manchain the center of Spain. The cheese used in this tasting-session is short-to-mediumcured. Manchego cheese can undergo various degrees of curing. This determinesits charact- eristics, the longest-cured cheeses having a piquant and veryintense flavor. This cheese is distinguished by the elegance of the flavortypical of ewe's milk that points to careful preparation. A very well balancedand pleasant flavor that is persistent on the palate and very aromatic.The aromatic intensity of manzanilla makes it an excellent foil for thischeese. The result is a magnificent combination of aromas giving new sensationsof complexity and elegance. Each brings out the flavor of the other andthe fresh aromas are reminiscent of flowers, nuts, and lavender.

CABRALESAND PEDRO XIMINEZ [TOP]

Cabrales comes from the Picos de Europa in the east ofthe Autonomous Community of Asturias in the Cantabrian Mountains. Thisis a naturally-fermented blue cheese made of cow's milk to which smallquantities of ewe or goat's milk are sometimes added. The degree of ripenesscharacterizes the cheese. On this occasion the cheese selected was onethat had undergone only a short ripening period, with a creamy paste thathad not yet been completely invaded by the penicillin bacteria. Its sharptaste, which is both piquant and sour, is toned down in combination withthe sweetness of Pedro Xim6nez giving pleasant, very complex sensations.The result is a balanced and complex combination of sour, salty, sweet,and bitter tastes.

IDIAZABALAND PALO CORTADO [TOP]

Idiazabal is produced with ewe's milk in the mountainousateas of the provinces of Alava, Vizcaya and Guipuzcoa (in the Basque AutonomousCommunity) and in part of Navarre, that is, in the north of Spain closeto the French frontier. We used an unsmoked Idiazdbal (there are severalalternatives - un-smoked or various degrees of smoking). This cheese hasa buttery paste and a slightly tangy flavor, which the palate perceivesslowly together with its salty tones. It is persistent, intense, and pleasant.The combination with the sherry dampens the insistent piquancy of the cheese,causing sensations that are pleasant and harmonious. The balance remains,although the taste of the Idiaz:ibal is strong and seems as if it is goingto predominate, but after a few seconds the sherry comes into its own.

IBORES AND FINO[TOP]

We used one of the two varieties of lbores (one has ahard, dark crust where as the crust of the one used is coated with prika).This cheese is produced from goat's milk in the north of the province ofCaceres, in the Autonomous Community of Extremadura, close to the frontierbetween Spain and Portugal. It is a fairly soft cheese with a compact massand, being made of goat's milk, is slightly acid. Its flavor is intensebut not at all aggressive. The fino is best chilled at about 7 or 80C (44.6or 46.4,F) to tone down its flavor and reduce its aromatic intensity. Thebitter almond nuance of the fino combines to perfection with the acidityof the cheese, creating a slightly pungent but very pleasant and delicatetaste. The personality of the sherry is noticeable but does not predominate.

LA SERENAAND PEDRO XIMINEZ [TOP]

The area of production of La Serena cheese is concent-rated Lin the Serena and Castuera areas of Badajoz, one of the two provincesin the Autonomous Community of Extremadura along the western border ofSpain. This is one of the most unusual cheeses produced in Spain. It ismade of ewe's milk but the characteristics of the local pasturelands makethe milk exceptionally rich in fats. The result is a cheese with a profoundand insistent flavor that is bitter and slightly sour. The texture is socreamy that when properly ripened it becomes sprea- dable. The cheese usedin the tasting-session is creamy so it combines magnificently with thePedro Ximenez. In partnership, the strength and aggressiveness of bothcheese and sherry disappear and the sherry seems less sweet, the predominantaromas being young and fruity, from the Pedro Ximenez grapes.

IBIRICO AND CREAM[TOP]

This cheese is made throughout Spain from a blend of ewes,goat's and cow's milk. The paste has an elastic texture. Its flavors arebalanced but leave behind a slight acidity.

The characteristics of this cream sherry combine perfectlywith the flavors of the cheese, creating a complex of intense, persistentand elegant aromas. A subtle blend and a real pleasure.

MAJORERO ANDPALE CREAM [TOP]

Majorero is a splendid representative of the less well-known cheeses of Spain - those made in the Canaries, the southernmost territoryof Europe in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast. Made on the islandof Fuerteventura, with goat's milk, this cheese has a springy texture,is slightly acid with mild and rather persistent flavor and very fresharomas. It is mild, delicate, pleasant, and gives a slightly salty aftertaste.When combined with Pale Cream the result is unexpected. The character ofthe cheese is quickly toned down by the sweetness of the wine, which disappearsas it mitigates the most aggressive charact- eristics of the cheese. Theslight bitterness of the wine then takes over, giving rise to a wide rangeof the spicy aromas that are typical of OIoroso sherries. Altogether, thecombination gives very complex and persistent flavors and aromas.

ZAMORANO AND CREAM[TOP]

Zamorano cheese is produced from ewe's milk followingthe same procedures as with Manchego cheese but it comes from the provinceof Zamora in the Autonomous Community of Castfle and Leon. The cheese usedis medium to very ripe and has a buttery texture. Its flavor is slightlypiquant, intense, and pungent. As with Manchego cheese, there are two waysof ripening it - either with short curing, giving a delicate, fresh cheese,or well cured making it piquant, pungent and aggressive. The sweetnessof the cream sherry combines with the piquant tones of the cheese so thatboth are toned down. The final result is complex, very pleasant, full ofnuances, and very persistent on the palate. The elegance of the combinationis remarkable.

MAHON AND PALOCORTADO [TOP]

Mahon cheese is from the island of Menorca, one of theBalearic Islands in the Mediterranean. It is a buttery or creamy cows milkcheese. Its flavor is mild but the aftertaste is slightly acid and salty,or even bitter. It is light and not very persistent.

The Palo Cortado brings out the personality of the cheese,stressing its characteristics. The flavor of the wine seems to predominatebut it gradually loses strength and allows the taste of the cheese to return.The combination is very pleasant, giving very subtle sensations.


Wine Chart[TOP]
MANZANILLA

Type of wine: dry Grape variety: Palomino Alcohol content:15.5% approx. Fine wine produced in SanICicar de Barrameda. With delicatearomas, lighter than fino hut without the aromatic complexity and structureof fino.

AMONTILLADO

Type of wine: dry Grape variety: Palomino Alcohol content:17% approx. Brilliant amber color of delicate and rich flavor. Smooth andelegant on the palate.

OLOROSO

Type of wine: dry Grape variety: Palomino Alcohol content:19% approx. With a deep amber shine, it offers the richness and intensearomas given by a long aging process. With a velvety, finish, it is a dry,deep, and smooth sherry.

CREAM

Type of wine: sweet Oloroso Grape varieties: Palominoand Pedro Xim6nez Alcohol content: 17.5% approx. Shiny mahogany color.Combines the aromas of Oloroso wine with hints of old oak and raisin. Smooth,slightly sweet, and very pleasant.

FINO

Type of wine: dry Grape variety: Palomino Alcohol content:15.5% approx. Pale gold color, pungent but delicate aroma reminiscent ofalmonds light, and dry. Mainly roduced in jerez de la Frontera and El Puertode Santa Maria.

PALO CORTADO

Type of wine: dry Grape variety: Palomino Alcohol content:18% approx. With a dark amber color, somewhere between Amontillado andOloroso, it has the aromas of Amontillado and the structure and flavorof Oloroso.

PALE CREAM

Type of wine: sweet Grape variety: Palomino Alcohol content:17% approx. Fino wine with a sweet taste due to the addition of concentratedand rectified grape must. Pale gold color with delicate floral aromas.Very light and smooth on the palate.

PEDRO XIMINEZ

Type of wine: sweet Grape variety: Pedro Ximenez. Alcoholcontent: 17% approx. Dark mahogany color with an amber aura. A complexand harmonious aroma full of nuances but with the raisin flavor predominating.Dense, velvety, and very persistent on the palate.


Cheese Chart[TOP]
D.O. TETILLA

Area of production: Galicia Type of milk: pasteurizedcow's milk from Galician Rubia and Friesian breeds Minimum fat content:45% of dry matter Short ripening period, very creamy. Characteristic breastshape. Yellowish rind, soft and creamy paste with an ivory yellow color.

D.O. IDIAZABAL

Area of production: Alava, Vizcaya and Guipuzcoa (BasqueCountry), and part of Navaffe Type of milk: raw ewe's milk from Latxa sheepMinimum fat content: 45% of dry matter Wheel-shaped with smooth, greasy,bright yellow to orange rind. Compact, buttery, yellowish paste with someholes. Strong tastes, slightly piquant, and sour.

D.O. MANCHEGO

Area of production: Castile-La Mancha Type of milk: pasteurizedewe's milk from Manchega sheep (also made from raw milk) Minimum fat content:50% of dry matter Wheel-shaped. Pale yellow or black-gray rind with plaitingmarks around the sides. Firm, compact paste varying from ivory white toyellowish.

D.O. LA SERENA

Area of production: La Serena (Extremadura) Type of milk:raw ewe's milk from Merino sheep Minimum fat content: 50% of dry matterShallow wheel shape. Semi-hard, dry and smooth rind. Soft paste of whiteor yellowish color that becomes spreadable when fully ripe.

IBORES

Area of production: Caceres (Extremadura) Type of milk:raw goat's milk from the Retinta breed of Extremadura Minimum fat content:50% of dry matter Wheel-shaped cheese characterized by the paprika coatingon its rind. White, mild and buttery paste.

IBERICO

Area of production: throughout Spain Type of milk: pasteurizedewe's, goat and cow's milk Minimum fat content: 54% of dry matter Wheel-shapedwith dark yellow rind. Sides with plait marks. Whitish-yellow paste. Mildand buttery flavor.

D.O. ZAMORANO

Area of production: Zamora (Castile-Leon) Type of milk:raw ewe's milk from Castellana and Churra sheep Minimum fat content: 45%of dry matter Wheel-shaped with a smooth, dark grayish rind. Firm, hard,yellowish paste with no holes. Strong taste but not piquant. Aromatic.

MAJORERO

Area of production: Fuerteventura (Canary Islands) Typeof milk: raw and pasteurized goat's milk from the Canary breed Minimumfat content: 55% of dry matter Wheel-shaped, 7-8 cm high. Light brown rindwith the marks of the mold formed with palm leaves. Yellow paste with smallholes.

D.O. MAHON

Area of production: Menotca (Balearic Islands) Type ofmilk: pasteurized cow's milk from Friesian cows Minimum fat content: 38%of dry matter Loaf-shaped with a yellow crust. Compact yellowish-whitepaste.

D.O. CABRALES

Area of production: Picos de Europa (Asturias) Type ofmilk: raw cow's milk, and occasionally small quantities of ewe's and goat'smilk Minimum fat content: 45% of dry matter Moldy and greasy rind, softand buttery paste with green-blue veining. Has the piquant, salty and aggressivetaste that is characteristic of blue cheeses.

D.O. RONCAL

Area of production: Valle del Roncal (Navarre) Type ofmilk: raw ewe's milk from Latxa and Rasa sheep Minimum fat content: 50%of dry matter Wheel-shaped with a smooth, reddish-brown rind. Hard pastewith holes. White to yellow color. Strong, slightly sharp taste.

GARROTXA

Area of production: La Garrotxa, Gerona (Catalonia) Typeof milk: pasteurized goat's milk from Murcia, Granada, and Malaga goatsMinimum fat content: 50% of dry matter Wheel-shaped, rind covered withdark gray mold. Soft white paste without holes.

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Text: Ignacip Medina   Photos: A.De Benito  Graphic Design & Editing: Distinctly Graphix
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