How To Pair Cheese & Lebanese Wine
Warmer weather calls for easy and refreshing cheese & salad combinations that will send your palate into a crescendo. Wine expert Najib Moutran, creates a mouth-watering menu with a sequence of cheeses and cold cuts, going from the simple to the more complex, without breaking a sweat.
Lebanese terroir produces wines that pair well with cheese from France, Italy and Spain. Sadly, our local palette for quality cheeses such as blue, hard, as well as soft and grated varieties are not fully developed. However, and despite the reluctance of some local dairy producers to shift from the local labneh goat to a more traditional French cheese such as white Bûche goat cheese, other producers are experimenting with their interpretation of a type of manchego style cheese with a waxy crust.
Though such initiatives are commendable, the truth is, a rich cheese selection is still based on international brands. On the other hand, locally-produced wines, with the diversity of Lebanon’s terroirs, pair quite well with the imported cheeses.
This summer, try these pairings:
Tête de moine: A strong cheese that needs a strong dry white wine from a crispy Riesling, grown in Batroun heights. Batroun Mountains, 2017 is best fit; fresh, crunchy and lively!
Tomme de Savoie: White Dry is the way to go. “Seven” 2017, 100% Obeidy; rounded balanced acidity, with subtle aromas of earth and ashes. Grapes from Wadi El Aarayech; Zahleh meeting Batroun!
Manchego: Paradis de Qanafar (Red) 2014. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 75%, Merlot 15% and Syrah 10%. Bekaa’s own expression of red berries; quite harmonious. Could be served slightly chilled.
Roquefort: Sweet White Wine is key. Château Kefraya Lacrima Doro 2007. Clairette from a late harvest, mutage, 9 years aging in vats, apricot aromas. Perfection!
Brie de Meaux: Lots of innovations on the wine labels scenery nowadays! A new touch from a great classic Koraï 2018 white from Musar… a white signature as always to bring fruitiness, summer sensations, apples and white prunes…
Goat Cheese with dried Cranberry: Southern notes from Jezzine in a Rosé that is very romantic, zesty aromas, well structured. Arc en Ciel from Karam Winery is a new approach to Rosé category in Lebanon; a Syrah-Cabernet blend with an appealing color!
Provolone: Another strong hard cheese, smothered with a Kumquat and a Bou-Sfeir. A red from Btalloun that has it all is best fit; to charm and counterbalance. Iris Domain 2011 Red is a must to try in this case!
Emmental in Smoked Turkey Rolls: Terrace finger food with nice mild winds always recall a nice bottle of pearly Rosé: elegant, smooth with exotic aromas, some grapefruit, a unique acidity, rounded, and spicy notes. IXSIR Grande Reserve Rosé 2018 Mourvèdre (Cinsault and Syrah blend) works best.