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May Pairing: Gorgonzola Piccante + Lambrusco

Fire up your taste buds and grab a bottle of sparkling red—this cheese is packing piquancy. Named after the town in Italy where it was first made, Gorgonzola is a rich cow’s milk blue cheese that appears in both sweet (Dolce) and sharper (Naturale or Piccante) varieties. This offering from Ambrosi’s Millennials line of cheeses is big on flavor; that’s why we’re pairing it with a berry-forward Lambrusco.

Ambrosi’s Gorgonzola Piccante is aged for 80 days to develop its distinctive bite, but traditional Gorgonzola can be aged for much longer—sometimes for as long as six months! As with many cheeses, the origins of Gorgonzola lie somewhere between probability and myth. Italians tell of a young cheesemaker who, distracted from his task of drying curds, mixed his crumbly curds with a new batch, resulting in a strange “bluing” phenomenon a few weeks later. We now understand this to be the work of Penicillium roqueforti or Penicillium glaucum molds, both naturally occurring in caves of the region and both still used in Gorgonzola production today.

The two regions of Italy in which Gorgonzola is made, Piedmont and Lombardy, are home to quite a few famous formaggi. Taleggio, Provolone, Grana Padano, and Mascarpone all hail from one or both of these regions, and most have earned DOP status (Italy’s version of a Protected Designation of Origin). This means that makers of these cheeses must adhere to strict production rules, and any similar cheeses made outside of these regions must be named differently.

Ambrosi’s Millennials come in packaging with color-coded labels that denote cheese style, so you can select your preferred styles with ease at the cheese case. Gorgonzola Piccante falls into the burgundy-hued category, indicating this wedge is one of Ambrosi’s Blues. Coincidentally, the label perfectly matches our pairing suggestion. We’re not saying we planned it that way—but hey, we do eat with our eyes first!

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