I was lost in a spiral of texture and flavor, engulfed in the swirl of wine and cheese that filled my mouth. I tasted each little sample of cheese in front of me—hard cheeses, soft cheeses, cow, goat, and sheep cheeses—and I tried my hardest to transfer notes from my tongue to paper. I fought to distinguish fruit and floral flavors in the wine, creaminess and nuttiness in the cheese, and sought to understand the perfect juxtaposition of flavors that made each shine.
This was the beginning of my foray into the world of cheese and wine pairing. When we at Seal Beach Winery had a staff meeting at Cheese Addiction in Long Beach, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve always had a love of wine, and I’ve been an avid cheese eater since I was young, but perfectly melding those experiences was only something I’d dabbled in when trying to impress friends and dates with homemade charcuterie assembled from grocery store cheese and crackers. And being brand new at the winery, I was afraid I would be out of my depth.
But here I was, happily nibbling on corners of cheese and suckling sips of wine, actually understanding how the flavors of each intersected. I noticed how notes in the cheese really left some wine flat. I observed strange aftertastes that didn’t exist with other pairings. I discovered on my own, but only because I chose to disregard emphatic advice, that Ginger Mango Stilton really has no business being paired with white wine. I tasted the most brilliant combination of Creamy Truffle Brie and Grenache, which, for me, was certainly the highlight of the night. I felt a spark light inside me after finding the truly perfect cheese for each wine on the menu, and similarly proud of myself when I could immediately tell that a combination we chose to test was just not going to work the way we had anticipated.
After a long night of diligently trying cheese and laboriously sipping on wine, the staffs of Seal Beach Winery and Cheese Addiction eventually crafted an amazing cheese menu with ideal pairings for each of the wines we offer. Since then, our cheese plates have morphed into amazingly catered creations with cheese selections based on the wine in front of our customers. They are gorgeously lined with artisanal crackers and rich servings of Italian meats, and are created with the knowledge and experience we gleaned from the best staff meeting that’s ever happened anywhere.