Entertaining this season? What could be more festive than a stunning cheese plate paired with crisp, lively sparkling wines. Today, I am going to walk you through how to create the ultimate winter cheese plate and pair it with two elegant sparkling wines from Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, the Blanc de Noirs and the Sonoma Brut.
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Carneros’ original sparkling wine house, was founded by the Ferrer family of Spain and remains family-owned. Named for José Ferrer’s wife, Gloria, the winery opened in 1986 in breezy, southern Sonoma County. Thirty years later, with 335 acres under vine, the estate vineyards at Gloria Ferrer make world-class méthode champenoise sparkling wines that perfectly reflect the terrior, that is, the vines, hillsides, fog and wind, of California’s Sonoma County.
Care for the environment and attention to detail in growing and harvesting the grapes (by hand!) have made Gloria Ferrer California’s most awarded sparkling wine house. Indeed, their wines have earned over 500 gold medals and fifty 90+ scores in the last 5 years.
Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines are crisp, fruity and very food-friendly. The Blanc de Noirs is made with predominantly Pinot Noir grapes for a creamy palate and rosy hue while the Sonoma Brut is a mix of Chardonnay and Pinot grapes with a pale golden hue and lively citrus and apple flavors. Both are exceptionally versatile wines ideal for pairing with everything from shellfish to roast chicken to Thai food.
Naturally, Gloria Ferrer‘s Blanc de Noirs and Sonoma Brut also pair well with artisan cheese. In fact, either wine would be a perfect accompaniment to a cheese plate this season — whether you are serving cheese as a hors d’oeuvre before a festive meal or as a stand-alone nibble in the afternoon or early evening.
For fall and winter occasions, I lean towards richer, aged cheese. My ideal winter cheese plate includes hard, aged cheeses such as Manchego, triple-aged Gouda or Parmigiano Reggiano — any of which would pair well with the Blanc de Noirs — as well as a soft, triple cream cheeses, such as La Tur or Brillat-Savarin, which would complement the Sonoma Brut. Be sure to remove the cheeses from the refrigerator two hours prior to serving to allow them to come to room temperature.
To offset the richness of the cheese and to add pops of beautiful color, I garnish my cheese plate with seasonal fruits such as pomegranates, Fuyu persimmons, and citrus. Like these Satsuma tangerines — aren’t they adorable with their green leaves?
By the way, do you know how to cut persimmons into pretty slices? Simply use a paring knife to remove the stem and core, as you might for a tomato. Then, cut the persimmon vertically down the middle. Turn the halves face-down on the cutting board and cut into thin, cross-wise slices. Persimmons are a wonderful winter alternative to melon or fresh figs on a cheese plate.
When ready to serve, arrange the cheeses, fruits, and nuts — such as whole toasted hazelnuts or pecans — on a wooden cutting board or marble slab. Include a spreader for soft cheeses and a sharp cheese plane for the hard cheese. Serve with baguette rounds, thin slices of seedy bread, or crackers.
Bring out the champagne flutes and pour the Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.