An Extra Special Touch for the Holidays

As the holidays approach, folks start thinking about entertaining in special ways, particularly when it comes to pairing food and wine.
Scott Jones

Here are a few of my top pairings which are sure to add sparkle and a touch of elegance to your next gathering:

  • Cheese and wine are a culinary match made in Heaven. For my money, few things top Parmigiano-Reggiano (Italian) or Comté (French) cheese with full-bodied reds. Both of these cows-milk cheeses are unique regional products with a rich history.

     
  • Markets are filled with cheeses labeled "Parmesan," but there's only one true Parmigiano-Reggiano (in fact, those exact words are stamped on the rind of each and every wheel that's made). Produced using a centuries-old technique in northern Italy, and aged at least 18 months (and up to 3 years), this is cheese is tailor made for big, Italian reds such as Chianti (particularly Riserva), Barolo, and Brunello di Montalcino.

     
  • Although not as well known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, but certainly a singular, first-class cheese that's worth the splurge, Comté is made in the Jura Mountains of France (and similar in style to Gruyère). Much softer than Parmigiano-Reggiano, Comté is just as comfortable on a cheese tray as it is melted over thin baguette slices or nestled between mini sandwiches. When shopping for Comté, look for the bell symbols stamped-rind in brown or green. Pair with rich reds from the Côte-du-Rhône region of France (especially Châteauneuf-du-Pape). Beaujolais is a terrific choice too.

     
  • Folks often find pairing salty food with sparkling wine a challenge. My solution: try Prosciutto di Parma. The ham's silky texture and savory flavors are the ideal contrast to bubbles and the hint of sweetness in, say, a extra dry Champagne or Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine). Try Prosciutto di Parma wrapped around sliced mango or ripe, seasonal pears.