Uncorking a bottle of full-bodied red has long been the harbinger of colder temperatures—the tannins in the wine have a natural warming effect, like the beverage equivalent of a fuzzy sweater. It’s often recommended that blue cheese be accompanied by a glass of red, so much so that it’s become a no-brainer pairing. But why?
Blue cheese gets its name and signature hue from Penicillium roqueforti, a strain of mold that occurs naturally in caves where blue cheeses were (and sometimes still are) traditionally aged. The mold is allowed to grow on the outside of a cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk cheese, which is then pierced with metal rods so that the mold can find its way into the paste. The mold imbues what would have been an otherwise fairly mild cheese with a salty, slightly spicy, and almost bitter quality that divides turphiles along a hard line between infatuation and disgust. There exist “gateway” blues that can help usher the blue-averse across that line, and pairing blue cheese with honey or a sweeter wine can ease the transition further. No matter the size of the teeth on the cheese, sweet or full-bodied accompaniments help to mitigate the cheese’s bite, the two taste sensations not so much cancelling each other out as highlighting each other’s best and most appealing qualities.
So it’s only natural that, for the holiday party season, we’d recommend a red wine-and-blue cheese pairing—with a culture twist, of course. We’re upping the luxury on this tried-and-true duo by mulling our wine: simply bring a pot of red wine, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and a few spoonfuls of maple syrup to a simmer, strain, and serve in heat-proof mugs. This rich, warming, slightly spicy brew is perfectly suited to colder climes, as evidenced by its ubiquitous Christmastime appearances in places like Sweden, the UK, and Germany. It matches perfectly with a creamy, gently tangy blue cheese like Litehouse Simply Artisan Blue Cheese—we opted for the Crumbles, as they’re ideal for putting out on the party table.
Sponsored by Litehouse Foods, Inc.