Cheese Cupid Pairing: White Oak Merlot


by Cheese Cupid


With the holidays and New Year’s Day through, January is a time for new traditions, new resolutions, and new wine and Wisconsin Cheese pairings.

This week’s Pairing of the Week is a 2004 White Oak Merlot. The grape of this merlot was hand harvested from 17 acres of volcanic soil on the Napa Valley Vineyard. The aging process for this wine occurred in 50 percent new Bourdeaux-style French/Hungarian oak barrels for 18 months. This merlot has bright fruit notes of black cherry and raspberry. It has firm tannins and a complex finish, with hints of vanilla, coffee, and chocolate adding rich depth.

Pair a glass of this merlot with Widmer’s Cheese Cellars Aged Brick, Deppeler Cheese Factory Baby Swiss, and Bass Lake Cheese Factory Sharp Cheddar.

Brick is a very versatile cheese, made in mild, medium, and aged varieties, plain or flavored with caraway and hot peppers. Widmer‘s Cheese Cellars makes the surface-ripened Brick cheese in small batches, hand filling the brick molds with curd. Widmer’s Cheese Cellars’ master cheesemaker Joe Widmer is a third-generation cheesemaker. His Swiss grandfather started the cheese plant and store, and Joe joined the business after earning his degree in food science. Widmer’s Aged Brick is best at three-and-a-half months old.

In Wisconsin, cheesemakers traditionally produce Baby Swiss from whole milk, unlike traditional Swiss, which is made from partially skimmed milk. Baby Swiss got its name for several reasons. It is not aged as long as traditional Swiss, contains smaller holes, and is usually produced in smaller sizes. Deppeler Cheese Factory Baby Swiss is a well-respected Wisconsin variety. Need a delicious way to serve Baby Swiss? Bake French bread topped with shredded Baby Swiss and chopped scallions. Also, Baby Swiss enhances frittatas and quiches.

Prior to 1850, nearly all the cheese produced in the United States was Cheddar. Today it accounts for a large percentage of the cheese made in the state. This makes Wisconsin the leader in U.S. Cheddar production. Bass Lake Cheese Factory has been producing Cheddar since 1918. The factory uses recipes handed down from generations, as well as new creative techniques to produce innovative cheeses. The Bass Lake Cheese Factory Sharp Cheddar is aged 6-12 months. Add Sharp Cheddar to cream-based soups or sauces for steamed vegetables and baked dishes. Make a traditional grilled cheese sandwich or use it to top a baked potato. Enhance apple pie by adding shredded Sharp Cheddar to the crust.