When you think about Swiss cheese it can conjure images of a huge yellow wedge riddled with holes. It’s the butt of religious jokes for being “holy,” as well as being used as bait in old Tom and Jerry cartoons.
But professional makers of Swiss cheese varieties are anything but comical. This is serious cheese and serious business.
Recently I sat down with Tom from The Red Cow to sample some Swiss Gruyere cheeses and find their perfect Australian wine match.
Gruyere is generally known as a cheese used in cooking. It has amazing melting properties and is a versatile addition to many dishes.
However, the Gruyere cheeses we sampled are anything but a humble cooking ingredient; they deserve their place front and centre as show stopping table cheeses.
Understanding the process of how these cheeses are made, gives you a real sense of just how special these artisan cheese varieties are.
Tom explains how fresh milk from a dairy in Switzerland is used to make cheese in Australia within 10 hours of the cow being milked. This takes the whole “farm to table” concept to Level: Insanity!
Tom and I also touch on cheese aging, rinds, and other production insights specific to the Swiss cheese industry.
We sample some amazing Gruyere varieties from three different regions in Switzerland. We talk about texture, flavour and the so-called “rules” of wine and cheese pairing.
But what is a great cheese without a glass of equally great wine? I introduced Tom to a well-balanced Tasmanian Riesling from Hughes & Hughes.
This cooler climate Riesling is easy to drink and light on the acidity. Paired with an aged Gruyere makes for a great match in my humble opinion.
Moving in a westerly direction, we found a crisp Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from Margaret River.
The oakiness from this wine, combined with herb-infused cheese made for an interesting match, they both really seemed to lift flavours from each other. While Tom and I found this pairing pleasant, it would be polarising in my humble opinion, depending on the taster and their palette.
Next, Tom and I sampled an interesting blend from our nation's capital. This Canberra wine mixes the softness of Pinot Noir with the boldness of Shiraz and the results are phenomenal.
Add a Swiss Gruyere cheese who’s rind has been washed in the red wine and salt brine; and voila! I found my favourite pairing for the day. Needless to say, my taste buds can now die content and happy.
The takeaway from this little sip and sample with Tom is that there really are no hard and fast rules for wine and cheese pairing. Taste is personal. Flavour is suggestive, and individual preference will always play a huge part in what cheese and wine you believe compliment each other. Be bold and give it a go.
Grab some friends, a few bottles and some interesting cheese varieties. Pour a glass and carve a slice. Using a Swiss Army knife is optional. Enjoy!
To learn more about the Swiss Gruyere cheeses and the Australian wines that Tom and I sampled, check out the clip above.