A friend and I attended Cheese & Wine 101 at the Artisanal Cheese Center last week, and I recommend the class highly. Before class started, we were treated to a delightful spread of cheeses, fondue, flatbreads, nuts, spreads and bubbly (along the lines of the collection for sale here if you are looking to recreate this smorgasbord at home…for $185!). My favorite cheese offered before class was Robiola Bosina, a creamy blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk.
During class, we tasted four wines – Hiedler Kamptal Grüner Veltliner 2007, Cavallotto d’Alba Vigna Scot 2006, Vizcarra Ribera Del Duero Roble 2006, Château Couronneau 2007 – with seven cheeses – Ibores, Amarelo da Beira Baixa, Peña Blanca, Dorset, Pecorino Maschio, Comte Fort des Rousses, Harbourne Blue. I enjoyed all of the wines except for the last one (although it paired well with several cheeses) and each of the cheeses was interesting and unique. My friend and I particularly enjoyed the Ibores (a warm-flavored goat’s milk cheese, which is rubbed with paprika and olive oil during the two-month aging process), Amarelo da Beira Baixa (a raw sheep and goat milk cheese from Portugal), and Comte Fort des Rousses (a raw milk cheese made from red and white Montbeliard cows in the Jura Mountains of France and matured for 18 months). Class ended with slivers of Artisanal’s delicious cheesecake (boxed cheesecake…who knew?) and a gift bag that included a container of Affidelice, a washed-rind cow’s milk cheese from Chablis, which my husband and I enjoyed over the weekend.
I was hoping to learn “hard and fast” pairing rules, but I suppose such rules don’t exist (save very basic rules like don’t pair a strong cheese with a light wine). From a learning standpoint, I give the class a C – perhaps my wine consumption was to blame for the lack of takeaways, but the instructor tended to wax poetic about cheese and I only picked up a few tidbits. That being said, I give the overall experience an A. The space is nicely appointed (despite the odd location on 37th and 10th) and the wine and cheese were thoughtfully selected and presented. I felt that I got my money’s worth, which is not a light statement as the class cost $85. If I’ve whet your appetite, check out the Artisanal site, where you can learn about upcoming classes and order the cheeses that we sampled. Also, I’d be excited to take another class if anyone is interested in joining me!