Wine & cheese pairings at a holiday party are a must, and the expert team at Marion Street Market in Oak Park loves sharing the best cheeses for festive gatherings and wines to pair with the options. Cheesemonger April Reed and Beverage Manager Heather Yargus team together on a daily basis to assist customers looking to entertain guests on a daily basis at Marion St.’s retail section. Here, they share some of their favorite wine & cheese combinations for holiday get-togethers this season.
Wine: Avinyo Cava Riserva Brut, Spain – Musky citrus and pear aromas are complicated by dried flowers and herbs, with an earthy undertone. Dry and focused, with firm lemon and pear skin flavors putting on weight with air.
Cheese: Delice De Bourgogne is a French triple cream brie with a creamy, spreadable paste. It is very buttery in flavor with a nice mineral finish.
Wine: Eric Louis Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley France – It’s crisp and fruity showing loads of passionfruit, lemons and gooseberries. The palate is relatively dry, with that passionfruit kicking in again before a richer tone on the finish.
Cheese: Haystack Mountain’s Queso De Mano is a raw goat’s milk cheese made in the Spanish style. Slightly salty, with a mild earthy undertone.
Wine: Biohaf Pratsch Gruner Veltliner, Austria – Subtle aromas of apples, white flowers, lemon-lime, with minor notes of ginger, radishes and chive with only a hint of white pepper in the background.
Cheese: Willi’s Bandaged Cheddar has a wonderful firm texture with a creamy, mild horseradish flavor that shines through the mild sharpness of this clothbound cheddar.
Wine: Chateau Haut Rian Premières Côtes de Bordeaux Rouge, Bordeaux France – Supple, well-structured offering notes of caramel, toast, cedar, red cherry and bittersweet chocolate.
Cheese: Abbaye de Bel’loc is a semi-hard raw sheep’s milk cheese that is from the Basque region of France. This sheep’s milk cheese is creamy and has intense notes of caramels.
Wine: Pierre Dupond L’Agnostique Gamay/Syrah, Languedoc France – Gorgeous bright fruit, rustic earth, silky textured and a touch spicy on the finish.
Cheese: Carr Valley Marisa is a hard sheep’s milk cheese with a very nutty flavor with crystallization throughout the paste of the cheese.
Wine: Li Veli Orion Primitivo, Puglia Italy – Ripe red fruits, notably cherries followed by spicy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Cheese: Spring Brook Farm’s Tarentaise is mild and tangy with a smooth finish.
April Reed’s Cheese Tips:
The best temperature to serve cheese is room temperature. We recommend taking cheeses out anywhere from half to an hour and a half, so they get warmed up enough to reach their full flavor profile.
With leftover cheeses, April says the best option is to store in an airtight container, in the vegetable drawer in your fridge. She would recommend enjoying over the next two or three days but after that, the cheese may change in flavor.
Items April requests guests bring for a party or event with cheese pairings include:
- Quince fruit paste (or any sort of fruit paste if quince cannot be find).
- Marcona almonds, her go-to decoration for a cheese plate
- Dried fruits like tart cherries, figs and apricots
- Crisp crackers and/or fresh chew baguette
For more tips, visit April and Heather at Marion Street Market at: 100 South Marion Street, Oak Park, IL 60302, or call: (708) 725-7200.