Harder cheeses – usually those aged for 5 to 10 years, like farmhouse cheddars – call for bigger wines like full-bodied reds.
Morrison said the cheese almost have a tartness to them, along with a nuttiness, which is what the big wines bring as well. The dark notes in the wine bring out the big notes of the cheese, he said.
Red zinfandels from California and Primitivo from Italy are good choices, Morrison said. What makes a zinfandel great, he said, are old vines; the vines produce less than half the grapes, but they are big and juicy with a lot of depth.
From zinfandels, you could move on to Australian or Californian syrahs (shiraz). And then it’s on to the “black in the glass” reds like pinot noirs, Bordeaux, California cabernets and some merlots.
Suggestions here include:
• Ridge Vineyards: Morrison recommends single vintage Zinfandels from this California winery
• Fess Parker Syrah: Morrison said this red is “big, but not that big”
• Michael David: Best known for his 7 Deadly Zins, Michael David also produces a wine called Petite Petit, which is a blend of Petit Verdot and Petit Syrah. Morrison said it’s big in the glass, with 16 percent alcohol. “It’s a monster,” he said. “It’s a fabulous production that goes great with hard cheeses.” The taste includes a toastiness with black cassis, black cherry, black raspberry, and dark red fruit notes; also, woodsy flavors with mocha and coffee.
• Argentiera Poggio ai Ginepri: A blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and merlot whose name means “Hills of Juniper”, this wine is produced in Tuscany.
• Brunello di Montalcino: “There’s nothing better than a Brunello di Montalcino with a parmigianoreggiano. I mean, fabulous stuff,” Morrison said.
• Lambrusco: As an alternative to the Brunello di Montalcino, Morrison recommends a classic Lambrusco (not Riunite) with a parmigiano-reggiano cheese
• Bordeaux: Morrison said 2009 and 2010 were back-to-back fabulous years. A Chateau Rollan de By goes great with a 7-to-10 year aged cheese, he said. The Chateau Rollan de By Cru Bourgeois is one that can be had in the $20-something range; it comes from the Medoc region.