Cheese and wine have similarities in their creation and use. You need to be a good farmer to raise good cattle, sheep and goats. You need good milk to make good cheese just as you need good grapes to make good wine. Cheese reflects the cheese maker's personality just as wine reflects the wine maker's personality. They both benefit from correct aging, both require careful storing and in the end it's your personal taste that determines if everything worked or not.
Snapshot of Cheese Making
Cheese is produced by coagulation of the milk protein casein. Typically, the milk is acidified and addition of the enzyme rennet causes coagulation. The solids are separated and pressed or molded into its final form. Cheese is valued for its portability, long life, and high content of fat, protein, calcium, and phosphorus.
Varieties of Cheese
Cheese making is the process of removing water from milk so soft cheeses like cream cheese contain more water than a hard cheese like cheddar. Very dry cheeses like Parmesan contain almost no water. Here is a overview of the different varieties of cheese.
NATURAL RINDLESS CHEESE
- Fresh, rindless cheeses such as Mascarpone, Fresh Mozzarella, Queso Blanco, Ricotta and Feta.
- Semi-soft, rindless cheeses such as Cheddar, Muenster, Havarti, Colby, Baby Swiss, Swiss, Farmers, Fontina, Monterey Jack and Queso
NATURAL RIND CHEESE
- Natural rind cheeses include semi-hard and hard grating cheeses such as Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, GranQueso, Aged Provolone and Kasseri.
WASHED RIND & BLOOMY RIND & CHEVRE
- Washed rind cheeses include Petit Basque, Gruyère, Limburger, Raclette, Butterkäse, Italianstyle Fontina, Brick, German (Aged) Brick and Wisconsin originals such as Knight’s Vail, Les Fréres, Pleasant Ridge Reserve and Italico™.
- Bloomy rind include Camembert and Brie.
- Chevre is a generic term for cheese made from the milk of goats, chevre meaning goat in French. Some chevre have rinds while some do not.
- Blue-veined cheeses include Blue Cheese and firm or Italian-style Gorgonzola.
The Process of Cheese Making
Milk from different species of mammals such as cow, goat, sheep or buffalo is used to make cheese with different flavors and characteristics. If milk high in fat is used, softer cheese is produced, while lower fat content milk produces more flavorful cheese.
The milk is heated to destroy harmful bacteria (pasteurization). Then starter culture is added to the warm milk and milk sugar (lactose) is converted to lactic acid, which speeds acidifying the milk.
Rennet, a coagulant, is then added to the milk converting it into curd thick enough to be cut into cubes which are then heated, shrinking the cubes. Simultaneously lactic acid is produced in the cubes from the starter culture and slowly the curd changes into small rice-sized grains.
The curd grains are allowed to settle and any leftover liquid is removed from the mixture using cheesecloth. The curd starts firming which can then be shaped into a round wheel form and pressed overnight.
Sometimes, the curd grains are milled to make cheese slabs or cubes. While milling the curd grains, salt is also added to provide flavor and also help preserve the cheese. After curing of few weeks, the cheese will be firm and have a mild flavor. Sharp cheese requires 3-5 months of curing. The slabs of cheese are allowed to mature for several days or months depending upon the desired flavor.
Our Cheese Selection Procedure
Several Wine Club Members originally asked us to pair our wines with cheeses. We decided to look at cheeses on a global scale where we found hundreds of small creameries producing unique cheeses in limited quantities. Our cheese database now has over seven hundred exceptional cheeses many of which we have paired with our wines.
Through our Cheese Club we provide a quarterly shipment of ½ lb each of three selected “Village Cheeses”. The three cheeses in each shipment are paired with the three wines in our quarterly Wine Club shipment. Price is $45 per quarter plus $20 shipping, if applicable.