Ubriaco Pinot Rosé / Photo by Fabrizio Furlan
It’s no secret that wine and cheese are a great match. The acidity, alcohol and structure of a wine can cut through cheese’s fat to uncork a greater depth of flavor. So, what happens when wine is an ingredient in cheese? A lot, as it turns out.
When a wheel or wedge of cheese is brined, dipped, marinated, soaked or washed in wine, the rind and other exposed surfaces take on the wine’s color, flavors and aromas. Some cheesemakers also inject wine directly into the “paste,” or the cheese’s interior, to build flavor and create colorful veins throughout the interior. Either way, a well-made wine-infused cheese provides the best of the wine and cheese in one harmonious bite.
Some say wine-infused cheeses came about during World War I, when European farmers hid their cheese in barrels filled with wine to protect them from enemy soldiers. It’s a great story but, alas, it’s folklore, says Sabina Belser of Musco Food Corp., an importer of cheese and specialty foods.
“Cheese in Europe was a peasant food at first, a means of survival and fighting food spoilage,” says Belser. “Those same people often made their own wine, particularly in Italy or France.”