Let’s be honest. These days, not everyone feels comfortable gathering in a space to take our classes. And that’s okay. We created our virtual classes for just that reason. One of the great things is each participant can participate from the intimacy of their own space. The best part is that even if you’re not in the NYC area, you can join any of our virtual classes. We participated in the Virtual Sparkling Wine & Cheese Pairing class and share what went down. This one was timely because of the upcoming holidays. (Hello New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day date night!)
The setup is pretty simple. Before the class, we received an email with an invite to the virtual class. We also received a cutting and plating guide for class day. You know, because, we’re all about showing off our best presentation on social. Oh, and let’s not forget the cheese! Each cheese was listed with several suggested pairings. And a couple of days before the class, we received a box with all the cheese from the aforementioned list. Here’s the cheese course that came for the sparkling wine pairing:
- Vermont Creamery Herb Goat Cheese
- Brebirousse d’Argental
- Murray’s Aged English Cheddar
- Two Sisters Isabella Aged Gouda
- Murray’s Stilton
Once the class started, our knowledgeable instructor, Cara, introduced herself and explained the process of both cheese making and sparkling wine—so it was novice-friendly. She shared that she’s spent more than a decade in cheese, food, and wine. Plus Cara’s married to a cheese monger. How cool is that?
During the class, Cara shared her screen so we could follow along. We were able to ask questions, talk about the different cheese pairings, and share our location in the chat. One thing we love about our virtual classes is that just about anyone can join from anywhere. And this time was no different. People joined from all over the country—from Alabama to New Hampshire and Maryland to California.
Now for the down and dirty. Our boards were set up to go from mild to wild. That means fresher, younger cheese was first up for the palate. The sparkling wine lineup was a cava or prosecco for the first two, a champagne or sparkling rosé for the next two, and a sparkling red shiraz for the last two.
We began with the goat cheese. This one was aged for just 3 days, then rolled in an Herb de Provence blend. The taste was a combination of earthy, fresh, dill, and rosemary, with a touch of bitterness. The bubbles of the sparkling enhanced the aftertaste and balanced out the bitterness.
Next up was the Brebirousse d’Argental. The orange annatto rind provided a lovely contrast against the rest of the cheese board. It’s a gooey, creamy, bloomy cheese—like a Brie but to the next level. There’s a level of funk, buttery notes, and nuttiness. The sparkling cut through a little of the barnyardy taste.
For the third tasting, we switched from a French cheese to an Italian one. The Taleggio is another melty choice with some funkiness to it. This creamer had meaty notes with a touch of crunch, and a little vegetal flavor. There were mixed reviews on this pairing and many thought it paired better with the first wine.
Midway through, we tried the cheddar. It’s a snackable, everyday cheese with some umami flavors. Aged for 12–16 months, it has some crystallization. The wine’s bubbles brought out a little of the funk and bitterness of this cheese.
Second to last, we had the gouda. This wasn’t your typical Holland gouda. It was more similar to cheddar but with a different texture and less of a sharpness. There were Alpine notes of caramel, butterscotch, and bullion. The sweeter shiraz bubbly was a good match.
We ended the evening with the strongest of the bunch—the Stilton. This cheese starts off white like a cheddar but through the cheese making process, it’s needled to take on more of a blue cheese character. It’s a bit salty with some funk and a little bitterness on the finish. The red worked well with this one.
Joining one of the virtual cheese classes was a different experience. We’d do it again and highly recommend it for a date night. With Valentine’s Day coming up, it would make a great cheese gift to share with your beloved. Or grab a group of friends and have yourself a Galantine’s Day get-together full of gourmet cheese gifts. You’ll learn have a delicious cheese course and learn something new, while having some fun!