I enjoyed the cheese and Spanish wine tasting on Monday night at City Winery, which was co-sponsored by Murray’s Cheese. It was my first time in the place’s actual winery, as opposed to the concert venue next door. We were loomed over by the stainless steel vats in which they make their own wine-on-tap (it’s surprisingly good). A couple of token oak barrels served as podia for the presenters, who did a good job guiding us through the experience.
The young woman from Murray’s (the one speaking in the photo) seemed especially knowledgeable about both the wines, all of them Spanish, and the cheeses, which were French and Italian as well as Spanish. All the usual terms applied – pungent, mild, textured; complementary, contrasting; with notes of this or that – more or less to both the wines and the cheeses, and it was a glorious thing to palpate the better pairings on both tongue and nose.
They saved the most interesting for last, a complex, red Canary Islands wine (my first) called Monje Tinto Tradicional (2009), which is from an old vine that, because of its location, escaped the famous phylloxera epidemic that killed off most of the European wine stock in the 19th century. Similarly, the cheese that accompanied it is reputedly one of the first ever to be made, a flavorful treat from the French Basques called Ossau-Iraty Vielle. Pedigree really does matter when it comes to wine and cheese: you can taste it somehow, partly in reality and also because the mind anticipates the result.
Events like this are usually billed as “classes,” which is kind of silly, but they really are edifying, with just the right touch of indulgence, and certainly classy.