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Holiday Entertaining

Guest writer and trained sommelier Shelley Boettcher recently tasted some cheeses from our local Deli, Illichmann’s, and provides some excellent wine pairings.

The holiday season is a terrific time to throw a party. Keep it easy for yourself by ordering a cheese tray fromIllichmann’s Sausage Shop, plus wines from Shipmaster’s Wine & Spirits. All you’ll need to do is chill the wine (and the beer,) dig out the glasses and turn on some holiday tunes.

Double crème Brie (France) — Soft, creamy cheeses such as Brie go well with crisp sparkling wines such as Prosecco and Cava. La Marca Prosecco (Veneto, Italy) offers great value and, when tasted blind against much more expensive Proseccos, often comes out on top. Best serve chilled, it has fresh red apple and citrus flavours.
Or go Canadian, and try the Nk’Mip 2015 Dreamcatcher (Okanagan Valley, British Columbia), a bright white off-dry blend that’s like a fruit basket in a glass.

Saint Agur Blue Cheese (France) — This strong-flavoured cheese is a favourite for many, especially this time of year, but it isn’t easy to pair with wine. Stick with a classic combo: a tawny Port, such as the Taylor 10-year tawny from Taylor Fladgate. The rich sweet notes of the Port pair beautifully with the blue cheese. Add a handful of walnuts and you have the makings of a lovely (and simple to prepare) cold-weather treat.
If that’s out of the budget, try a sweet Riesling or dessert wine. One of my budget-friendly favourites is from Chateau Loupiac Gaudiet. Made from a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, it comes from a region in France that’s just across the river from one of the world’s most famous sweet wines, Sauternes. The wine’s sweetness highlights the natural sweetness of the cheese.

(Spain) — Similar to a Manchego, but with a rosemary crust, this cheese looks beautiful on a plate and it’s delicious, too. Pair with the 2015 Las Mulas organic Cabernet Sauvignon from the Miguel Torres estate in Chile. This robust red offers incredible value, considering the price, and the wine’s fine herbal notes will complement those in the cheese.
Or think pink, with a fun rosé. Honoro Vera 2015 Rosado (Jumilla, Spain) comes from the famous Spanish producer Juan Gil. It has enough acidity to work with the richness of the cheese, and the wine’s delicate flavours — watermelon, strawberry, raspberry, dried herbs — are downright delicious

BellaVitano Balsamic (USA) — The rind of this pretty cheese has been bathed with balsamic vinegar, to give extra flavour and character. It’s terrific with beer; try it with Big Rock Brewery’s Grasshopper Wheat Ale or the Village Wit, from Village Brewery.

Aged cheddar (London, England) — A firm cheese like this, that’s slightly salty, will go well with bigger wines such as Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon. One to try: the Fleur du Cap 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (Western Cape, South Africa.) Spicy fruit notes and firm tannins make this one a natural match with the cheese.

Or try a beer. Fuller’s London Pride will shine alongside a wedge of aged cheddar. Or try the Chinook Red IPA from Canmore’s Grizzly Paw Brewery.

Illichmann’s Sausage Shop and Deli

1840 36 St SE
403-272-1673

Shipmasters Wine and Spirits

3111 17 Ave SE
403-235-1122
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