National Baking Month

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The holidays have passed, and a new year is already flying by. With the cold weather, the post-holiday blues can sometimes get the best of us, but today we’re sharing some tasty recipes to warm up your kitchen! January happens to be National Baking Month, so we’re pairing up cozy baked goods and cheesy goodness! 

Parmesan Chiffon Cake: A savory twist on a classic treat; top with your favorite jam or compote for more depth of flavor. 

Goat Cheese Brownies: A beautiful blend of goat cheese, sea salt, and chocolate. You can try our Capricorn Goat Cheese here on Amazon

Cream Cheese Pound Cake: A delicious pound cake is a blank canvas for experimentation! Play around with your favorite toppings such as chocolate, berries, jams, and compotes. 

Bacon Cheddar Chive Scones: Because bacon makes everything better! 

Goat Cheese Cake with Berries: The is a tangy twist on a traditional Cheesecake. You can try our Capricorn Goat Cheese Crumbles on Amazon for an even easier bake.

Happy Eatings! 

 

Posted on January 30, 2018 and filed under Holidays, Recipes.

Crock Pot Crazy

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The holidays can be fun filled with festivities and good company, but one thing many of us have in common is how busy we are. With everything going on, taking the time to cook a meal can often fall to the wayside. But fear not! One of the best cooking shortcuts available is likely sitting right in your kitchen cabinet: the crockpot. There are few things easier than throwing all your ingredients into one pot and walking away! So in the spirit of making the holidays as stress-free as possible we’re sharing some cheesy shortcuts you can add into your holidays. 

No-Boil Mac & Cheese: This recipe is incredibly versatile. You can choose your favorite cheeses to substitute into the recipe. Alternately, you can add fresh goat cheese (available on Amazon Prime) for a creamy tang. 

Slow Cooker Lasagna: Delicious, savory lasagna without all the work! 

Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs: Quick shortcut for any easy dinner any night of the week. 

Slow-cooker Balsamic Cranberry Pulled Pork with Cheesy Polenta:  A festive dinner to impress your guests.

Cheesy Chicken Penne: Pasta is always a crowd pleaser. 

Bacon & Cheese Potatoes: Bacon & Cheese. Need we say more??

Cheesy Rueben Dip: A delicious sandwich gets turned into a delicious dip; bonus, our French Mini Toasts (available on Amazon Prime) are the perfect accompaniment to serve alongside this tasty dip!

Cheesy Winter Vegetable Casserole: Because cheese makes everything better. 

Creamy Beer Cheese Soup: Because what is better than beer AND cheese?!?

Happy Eatings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on December 5, 2017 and filed under Recipes, Holidays.

Getting Some Elevation

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Alpine Cheeses (Mountain Cheeses) are made from the milk of animals that have grazed on the grasses and plants of high mountain pastures and give the resulting cheeses a distinct, rich flavor. There are centuries old traditions and recipes that follow specific rules and regulations in order to be called “Alpine Cheese”. Most people are familiar with the basic “Swiss Cheese”, but it’s actually much more detailed than that. Swiss is just a category of Alpine Cheese; it can actually be Swiss, French, or Italian.

It’s all about something called transhumance grazing. It’s a centuries old cycle that begins in the Spring when the animals begin grazing on all the lush, seasonal plants on the lower mountain pastures, and as it warms through summer, the shepherd and the flock follow the plants to higher elevations. Once autumn arrives with the threat of snow and chill, the flock eats their way back down the mountain. The cycle repeats itself year after year.

Why is the elevation important? The different plants at different elevations make every batch of cheese unique. Many of these lush pastures are in remote corners of the mountains, and the herders build cheese-making huts (Chalets) at various elevations so they could make cheese at any point in their process of grazing without carrying the milk all the way back down the mountain. Too much agitation and jostling can cause ill effects in the milk. So all the cheese-making ingredients and tools stay in the various huts along the mountain, ready for the herder to make their batches and leave them for aging. They would make larger wheels in big batches so they could bring the sturdy wheels back down the mountain to market.

What’s with the holes? Not all Alpine cheese has holes (eyes), but they are one of the most recognizable visual features. The holes are created early in the process by C02 producing bacteria that thrive in the low salt/low acid mix of Alpine Cheese. As the cheese hardens those holes produced by the C02 gas become permanent.

So, what ARE Alpine cheeses? There are quite a number of them:

  • Emmentaller
  • Gruyere
  • Challerhocker
  • Appenzeller
  • Comte
  • Beaufort
  • Montasio
  • Abondance
  • Sbrinz

And the list continues. Many of the above cheeses share similar characteristics such as:

  • Semi-hard texture
  • Natural rubbed (or brushed) rind
  • Larger wheel (usually weighing around 65-80lb on average)
  • Holes (eyes)
  • Very meltable & elastic quality (ideal for fondue)
  • Sweet, nutty flavor, usually low in salt

What should I pair it with? Alpine cheeses tend to pair well with younger, lighter wines such as Beaujolais, because of the subtle grassy/plant flavors in the cheese. If you pair it with too strong of a wine, you’ll lose some of those complex cheese flavors. From that starting point, explore! Everyone experiences taste differently, and experimenting with different combinations is the best way to find the pairing you love. 

 

 

Posted on September 26, 2017 and filed under Educational.

Blueberries & Sunshine

One of the best things about summer is fresh fruit. Now blueberries are ripe, sweet, and ready for picking! Whether you grow your own berries, or you take a day trip to go blueberry picking, there are lots of ways to use them beyond just tossing them with some cream. Since we have our own obsession with great cheese, we’re sharing some tasty ways to combine sweet blueberries and tart cheese that you’re sure to love. 

Blueberry, Mint & Feta Farro Salad recipe

Blueberry & Feta Bulgar Salad with Mint Dressing recipe

Blueberry, Feta & Honey-Caramelized Onion Naan Pizza recipe

Blueberry Cucumber Salad recipe

Goat Cheese Blueberry Ice Cream recipe

Grilled Turkey and Blueberry Goat Cheese Sandwich recipe

Blueberry, Basil & Goat Cheese Pie recipe

 

Happy Eatings! 

 

 

Posted on August 1, 2017 and filed under Recipes.

Summer Spritzers

It’s summer! The season of long sunny days and spending time out on the patio sipping your favorite drinks is finally here. Of course, you can always stick with the classic cold beer or chilled glass of chardonnay, but sometimes it can be fun to do something to mix it up a bit.

Independence Day is one of the highlights for summer entertaining, and with it being just around the corner, we wanted to share some of our favorite summer spritzer recipes. And what is a summer spritzer without some tasty cheese pairing suggestions?!?  So, we’ve got you covered with something to snack on while you sip and savor!

Zesty Wine Spritzer recipe - The fresh slices of red chili pepper that give this sip a little heated bite would pair wonderfully with naturally smoked Goudam. Click here to buy 

Grapefruit Ginger Spritzer recipeThis sip is a little sweeter, so try pairing this with a savory cheese that is traditionally eaten with sweet accompaniments. Cheeses such as aged Gouda or lovely sharp Cheddar will really liven up the experience.

Rosemary Gin Spritzer recipeThis fizzy cocktail has a light herbaceous flavor that makes it a natural companion to a creamy tangy Goat Cheese topped with your favorite chopped nuts.  Click here to buy  

Lemon-Thyme Tequila Spritzer recipeA good jack cheese brings out the full flavor of strong tequila and makes a perfectly balanced bite! Try pairing it with our Organic Meadow Jack.  Click here to buy 

Fig & Bourbon Fizz recipeFrom smoky bourbon and fresh mint to sweet fig, this fizz has a wonderful rich taste.  Enjoy this drink with a complementary buttery Triple Crème Brie spread over your favorite crusty bread. 

Happy Eatings! 

 

Posted on June 29, 2017 and filed under Holidays, Recipes.

Manchego Madness

Though we have an unfailing love for many cheeses, one that holds a special place in our heart has got to be Manchego. Manchego is a name-protected sheeps’ milk cheese that is made in the La Mancha region of Spain (that is where the name protection comes in). The milk used to create this cheese actually comes from a very specific sheep—the Manchego Sheep.

In addition, this cheese has to be created in the La Mancha region of Spain, and has to meet a specific set of guidelines in order to legally be called “Manchego Cheese”. It is known for its distinctive basket weave pattern pressed onto the outer rind of the cheese. This modern day pattern is actually visually representative of a time when the cheese was originally made inside woven grass molds.

Manchego can be aged to several different flavor profiles:

Semi Curado – young Manchego, around 3 months aged which yields a fruity, grassy flavor with a slight tang

Curado – 6 month aged Manchego that has distinctive notes of caramel nuttiness with a slight hint of acidity

Viejo – Manchego that has been aged for a year begins to take on a crumbly texture, the color darkens and the flavor takes on a sweeter, stronger note

Manchego is a versatile cheese and is incredible on its own as a snacking cheese. Pair it with olives, tapenades, savory or fruit flavored jams, Marcona almonds, and fresh fruit.

It is best paired with wines that complement the light fruit/nut flavors of the cheese such as Tempranillo, Meritage, or even a simple Cabernet. If you’re not a fan of reds, crisp dry white such as an Albarino or a dry Chardonnay are sure to satisfy your palate.

For a new take on Manchego, try these delicious recipes that complement the flavors of this Spanish favorite!

Potato-Scallion Frittata with Manchego

Grilled Flatbreads with Caramelized Onions, Sausage, & Manchego

Crunchy Slaw with Asian Pear & Manchego

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Manchego

Manchego Mac with Chorizo

Chicken Stuffed with Manchego, Mushrooms & Spinach (Pollo Relleno)

 

Happy Eatings! 

 

 

 

Posted on March 31, 2017 and filed under Recipes, Educational.

Mardi Gras Celebration

It’s that time of year again, and Mardi Gras events are in full swing. One of my favorite things about celebrating is the vibrant, spicy dishes that surround the festivities. The succulent seafood, spicy sausages, and creamy, cheesy grits all add to the celebratory experience. Just like cheese, these flavorful dishes all celebrate an amazing food culture that highlights simple, delicious ingredients that come together to create something amazing. For those of you who love to create tasty dishes, we’d like to share some festive recipes that will help you get into the Mardi Gras spirit!

Shrimp Corn Chowder: Some simple cream cheese adds another level of decadence to this chowder recipe.

Oysters Bienville: Oysters are a classic New Orleans feature, and Parmesan adds another wonderful savory note to balance out the dish.

Chicken Muffuletta: The Muffuletta is a staple New Orleans sandwich, and we love the gooey provolone on this one!

Shrimp & Andouille Gumbo Dip: A tasty dip with all the great flavors of Gumbo! The Asiago cheese is definitely a nice addition.

Creole Shrimp & Sweet Potato Grits: Try our Smoked Gouda (here) to add a creamy, smoky flavor to your sweet potato grits.

Yats Chili Cheese Etouffee: Aged cheddar adds another layer of complexity that makes this a restaurant favorite.

Savory Parmesan Pain Perduwith Poached Eggs & Greens: Pain Perdu (French Toast) is a southern staple, and this savory twist has us drooling!

Happy Eatings! 

 

 

Posted on February 24, 2017 and filed under Holidays, Recipes.

Trendy Toast

Who doesn’t love warm toasted bread that’s crunchy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside? The artisan toast trend has really picked up momentum the last few years; even inspiring restaurants dedicated solely to toast dishes.  Whether it is the popular avocado toast, or upscale remixes of beans on toast, cheese has played an important part in this growing trend.

Here’s a list of some tasty toast combos to try that highlight all cheesy possibilities.  Feel free to experiment with all sorts of your favorite breads, crackers, and flatbreads.

 

Goat cheese, olive oil, figs

Spread a layer of plain or honey goat cheese on the toast. Slice or halve dried figs and place on top of the goat cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. You can even check out our Capricorn Goat Cheese  on our amazon page here

 

Goat cheese, prosciutto, tomatoes, black pepper

Spread plain, herb, or sundried tomato goat cheese on the toast. Layer thin slices of prosciutto on the cheese and layer yellow or red cherry tomatoes on top of the meat. Sprinkle with black pepper.

 

Chocolate Ricotta Toast

Combine 1 cup ricotta, dash of cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla. Spread on toast and top with grated chocolate, your favorite chunk chocolate, or mini chocolate chips.

 

Avocado, feta, and pomegranate seeds

Smash up a fresh avocado and season with salt and pepper. Spread on toast and top with crumbled feta and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

 

Cream cheese, basil, mixed berries

 Spread cream cheese or mascarpone on toast and top with your favorite berries, or a mixture. Slice basil into thin strips and sprinkle over toast.

 

Cantaloupe, walnuts, agave, goat cheese

Make paper thin slices of cantaloupe. Spread plain or honey goat cheese on toast. Layer the slices of cantaloupe and top with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts. Drizzle agave on top or try honey.

 

Apple slices, honey, blue cheese

 Thinly slice applies using a mandolin or vegetable peeler. Layer apples on top of toast and sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles or top with thin slices of blue cheese. Drizzle with honey.

 

Brie, bacon crumbles, cranberries

Place thin slices of brie on toasted bread just out of the toaster and allow to melt. Sprinkle the brie with fresh made or store bought bacon crumbles and dried cranberries. 

 

Happy Eatings! 

Posted on January 31, 2017 and filed under Recipes.

A Fantastic Foodie Holiday

The Holiday season is upon us, and with it, the quest to find the perfect gift for friends and loved ones. One of our favorite ideas is our Perfect Partners Cheese Pairing Box. We have parings for the red wine, white wine, and beer lovers in your life. This year we're even cooking up something new! In a few days you will find gift boxes of Specialty Chocolates specifically chosen to pair with red wine, white wine, and beer. So no matter if that special person loves cheese, chocolate, or all of the above, we've got something that everyone will love.

Here is a sneak peek image of our Chocolates for White Wine pairing gift box. 

In the meantime, you can check out our Perfect Partner products on Amazon.

Posted on December 5, 2016 and filed under Holidays.

For the Love of Pie

One of the best things about the holidays, for me at least, is the pie.  Of course you have all your traditional pies such as pumpkin, fruit pies, and pecan, but a fun way to mix up your meal is to create a savory pie recipe. It’s something cozy and comforting that will really satisfy your family and friends this holiday season. All of us here at North Light love our cheese, so we thought what better way to have a delicious, savory pie featuring all of our favorite cheeses! So today, we’re sharing some savory pie and tart recipes to get you started! 

Tomato & Cheddar Pie

Farro & Parmesan Pie

Caramelized Garlic, Spinach, & Cheddar Tart

Savory Onion, Cheese, & Bacon Tart

Beef, Ale, & Mushroom Pie (This recipe can be kicked up a notch with a delicious Cheddar Crust!)

Cherry Tomato, Bocconcini, & Zucchini Pie

Happy Eatings!

 

Posted on December 5, 2016 and filed under Recipes.

Cheese and Seafood. No, Really!

Admittedly, all of us cooks have come across a list of taboo food combinations in our experience cooking. Seafood and cheese might be one of those for some of you. Beyond the cream cheese and crab combination at your favorite Rangoon establishment, many people still uphold the notion that cheese and seafood do not belong together.

However, if you do a little exploring in different food cultures, you are sure to discover amazing dishes that pair seafood and cheese.  Mussels and blue cheese in France, Machas A la Parmesana in Chile are just a few of the dishes that represent a fusion of flavors made from combining seafood and cheese.

The creativity and technique comes in to finding the right compliment for fish and seafood which is often delicate and mild in flavor. Choosing a cheese that highlights rather than overpowers is essential to well-balanced dishes. While not the most intuitive pairing to create, if it’s done correctly, cheese and seafood can be a revelatory experience.

Since October is National Seafood Month, we’re taking the opportunity to share a variety of recipes that celebrate the Cheese & Seafood combo. Consider trying one of our products and taking on one of these amazing dishes!

Try our Capricorn Goat Cheese in these amazing recipes! BUY NOW

Shrimp and Goat Cheese Risotto

Fried Oysters and Goat Cheese

Smoked Salmon Quiche

For an interesting twist on this recipe, look online for our Smoked Goudam.

Smoked Gouda and Lobster Mac n Cheese

to kick up your shrimp and grits, consider substituting our Colby Caliente for the cheddar in the recipe below. BUY NOW

Shrimp and Grits

Happy Eatings!

 

 

 

 

Posted on October 31, 2016 and filed under Holidays, Recipes.

Cheese: A Souper Idea!

Summer is ending and as the hours of daylight are getting shorter and the air is cooling we start to crave those warm, comforting dishes. 

One of our favorite things about autumn, besides layers of cozy clothing and colorful leaves, is digging out all of our favorite recipes for comfort food. The scent of a soup or chili simmering away on the stove fills your whole kitchen with the sensations of autumn.  

We often experience soup as a starting course or a side dish and sometimes it’s hard to find a soup that’s truly filling enough to be a meal in itself.  However, there are plenty of soups that are meal worthy and we find that the addition of cheese is just the trick to not only elevate the flavor profile of soup but also to satiate your biggest fall appetites.

We love cheese for all its versatility and pairing options. This recipe elevates the classic pairing in Beer Cheese Soup to a whole new level of excitement, and we think that you will definitely add it to your recipe arsenal for fall!

 

Brie & Cheddar Apple Beer Soup with Cinnamon Pecan Oat Crumble Recipe

 

Happy Eatings! 

Posted on September 30, 2016 and filed under Recipes.

Goat Any Cheese?

Goat cheese can be rather simple, but its distinct, tart flavor and its creamy texture can send the flavor profile of a dish soaring to the next level. We love goat cheese not only for the flavor it can bring but also because of its incredible versatility.

Goat cheese can range from mild and delicate, all the way to strong and pungent. Beyond just the plain chevre, you can find all sorts of flavors made with ingredients that have been incorporated into the cheese: herbs, vegetables, fruits, and even wines or chocolate! With just that list alone think of all the things you can do with it!

In addition to all of the flavors, there are a variety of styles of goat cheese. From creamy fresh chevre, to aged, crumbly perfection, goat cheese makes the perfect ingredient for cooking or a flavorful addition to your cheese board.  So as summer is coming to an unofficial close across the land, we’d like to share some wonderful late-summer inspired recipes that really shine with the addition of goat cheese. Maybe you’ll find a tasty dish to share with your family this holiday weekend!

Late Summer Tart with Goat Cheese, Onions, Corn, & Tomato

Baked Eggplant with Fig, Tomato, & Goat Cheese

Fresh goat Cheese & Radicchio Salad

Peach and Goat Cheese Tartine

Grilled Vidalia Onion, Goat Cheese & Arugula Flatbread

Salad of Goat Cheese, Melon, blueberry & Spinach

Check out our Capricorn Goat Cheese on Amazon.

Logs

Logs & Crumbles

Crumbles

Happy Eatings!

Posted on August 30, 2016 and filed under Recipes.

National Dairy Month

We all know there are the five basic food groups, but this month we are celebrating one that is near and dear to our hearts: dairy. More specifically, cheese! So I want to share the delicious possibilities of one cheese that you may be overlooking: Mascarpone Cheese. Mascarpone is a soft, creamy, traditional Italian cheese that can be the star of both sweet and savory dishes. You can use it to thicken up a soup or pasta, add richness to pudding or mousse, or even just mix it with honey and serve with fresh fruit. The possibilities abound. So today I wanted to share a range of tasty recipes that can get you started on your exploration of Mascarpone!

Savory Recipes

Mascarpone Pasta with Chicken, Bacon & Spinach

Fresh Tomato Soup with Mascarpone

Mascarpone Mac & Cheese

 

Sweet Recipes

Mascarpone Coffee Brownies

Espresso Mascarpone Chocolate Bourbon Cake

Homemade Mascarpone Cinnamon Pudding

 

Appetizer Recipes

Mushroom & Mascarpone Tarts

Smoked Salmon & Mascarpone Appetizers

Strawberry Basil Bruschetta

Happy Eatings!

 

Posted on June 21, 2016 and filed under Educational, Recipes.

National Blueberry Cheesecake Day

At this point our love of cheese is well established. Beyond just the vast number of varieties and flavors and ways it can be eaten, cheese also has a place throughout the whole meal!

From healthy snacks and appetizers to main dishes and sides, cheese is a well-respected culinary champion. However, even the most dedicated cheese lovers often overlook cheese’s role in a favorite of meal times everywhere….dessert!

Since Thursday is National Blueberry Cheesecake Day, we thought we’d share a tasty recipe for creamy, decadent goat cheese cheesecake! It’s the prefect dessert for these warmer months, and you can still indulge your love of cheese.  To add that extra special touch, check out this fresh homemade blueberry topping

Happy Eatings!

Posted on May 24, 2016 and filed under Recipes, Holidays.

National Beer Day - April 7th

Beer & Cheese: A classic combination that is always sure to satisfy.  Since April 7th is National Beer Day this year, what better way to celebrate than enjoying the timeless combo of beer and cheese? I mean, of course beer is tasty on its own, but cheese definitely elevates the experience. Below are several mouth-watering recipes that do a fantastic job of highlighting the beer and cheese combo, so get to your kitchens!

No time to cook? Well, how about putting together a tasty cheese board full of cheeses that are perfect paired with an ice-cold beer? We’ve got you covered. Check our or beer and cheese pairing box on Amazon. LINK. We’ll take away the confusion of beer and cheese pairing, and leave the celebrating to you!

Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Beer Soft Pretzels

Pimento Beer Cheese Pie Bites

Beer Cheddar Waffles

Cheddar & Ale Soup with Bacon and Potato

Ultimate Nachos with Beer Braised Carnitas

Buffalo beer Cheese Fries

Happy Eatings! 

 

 

Posted on March 31, 2016 and filed under Holidays, Recipes.

March is for Noodles

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Pasta is always a wildly popular dish. From macaroni and cheese, to fresh handmade pasta, there is just something so comforting and satisfying about noodles! People have been eating them, in some form, for thousands of years and they continue to be a favorite in a variety of cuisines.

March is National Noodle Month and we thought we’d give you some noodle history and share some cool noodle dishes that are made better by cheese!

In 2005, National Geographic shared that a bowl of 4,000-year-old noodles were found in Northwestern China and is believed to be the earliest example of the popular food.  This coincides with the popular theory that noodles originated in the East, and were introduced to Italy by the Arabs. From there, the popularity of the noodle spread to Europe, and then the rest of the world.  (Check out the story!)

Now the varieties and styles of noodles alone are practically infinite! One thing we know is that cheese can be the perfect complement to a variety of noodles. Whether it’s a hard Italian cheese sprinkled over marinara or a rich cream cheese sauce for fettuccine, cheese elevates plain noodles and excites the palate. Here are some recipes that represent a tiny snapshot of how cheese and noodles can elevate your meals.

Beer Mac & Cheese Recipe

Creamy Penne with Blue Cheese Sauce Recipe

Gouda & Avocado Fettuccine Recipe

Rice Noodles with Sundried Tomatoes, Parmesan & Basil Recipe 

 

Happy Eatings!

 

 

 

Posted on March 10, 2016 and filed under Educational, Recipes.

Decadent Desserts

Valentines Day is just around the corner. Regardless if you have plans or not, it’s a great excuse to indulge in some decadent desserts! What better pair to celebrate than the chocolate and liquor combo? The strong heaviness of the liquor stands up well to the richness of chocolate, making them the perfect partners! 

Not in the mood for chocolate? You might like the classic pairing of wine and cheese (Or beer and cheese, whatever suits your fancy). Many cultures use tasty cheeses as an alternate dessert course following a meal. Navigate on over to our products page and check out our Perfect Partners cheese pairing gift boxes. What are you waiting for? Click through to one of these tasty recipes (or cheeses!) and treat yourself!

 

Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake Recipe

Red Wine Chocolate Cake Recipe

Coffee & Baileys Macaroons Recipe

Kahlua Fudge Brownies Recipe

 

Happy eatings!

Posted on February 8, 2016 .

Hosting a Wine Tasting Party

Hosting a wine tasting party sounds like a blast! Also, maybe it sounds a little overwhelming? No worries, here is a great guide to help you host a stress free and fun tasting party at home. A great idea to start with is to do a tasting before lunch or dinner. Then after the tasting can follow up with a meal that will complement the wines that were sampled, and your guests can opt to choose a wine they liked best to drink with their meal.

A few quick starting points: try to sample around 8 wines max. If you do more, you risk overwhelming your guests with flavors. You can serve the wines in flights of four, with a pause in between. Your guests can sample four wines, write their notes, discuss, and then move on to the second flight. That makes it easier to remember each wine and its characteristics. Set out 4 wine glasses for each guest, and pour from left to right. Give your guests about 2 ounces of wine for each sample (for reference, a standard small shot glass is about 1 ounce). That is enough for several sips. Be sure to start with lighter white wines, and finish with stronger red wines. Tasting the stronger red wines last will ensure you don’t overwhelm the taste buds before you taste the lighter white wines.

Types of Tasting

Regional: Different types of wine from the same area. Taste the differences/similarities of various wines subjected to the same elements (water, sunlight, weather patterns, etc.)

Varietal: Same grape type from different areas. Learn/taste how different areas contribute their own style/character to the same variety.

Category: One wine from each category. This type of tasting could be most open to your own preferences and interpretations.

Set the Scene

Cover the table with a white tablecloth (or butcher paper); the white color will help you easily examine and describe the colors of the wine. The friction-free surface also makes it easier to swirl the wine in your glass.

Serve your white wines slightly chilled, and your red wines around room temperature. Wines that are too cold or too warm will lose some of their more subtle flavors.

*Fun tip: Do a blind tasting. Wrap the bottles with foil or a wine bottle cover and label each wine by number. Blind tasting ensures swanky names or a well-designed label doesn’t accidentally affect your tasting experience.

Make sure you set out some neutral crackers or some crusty bread for your guests to munch on between tastings. They will act as palate cleansers and make sure the flavors of multiple wines won’t get muddled up on your taste buds.

Also be sure to set out little pads of paper so your guests can write down their tasting notes. You can find tasting note charts online that can be printed out and used for notes as well.

Tasting the Wine

Look: Examine the color of the white against a white background; is it a warm honey color? A rich burgundy? Is it translucent or more opaque?

Swirl: Swirl your wine around in your glass so it will aerate (air will be added to the wine to enhance the flavors & aromas)

Sniff: After swirling, inhale the scents of the wine, what do you smell? Your sense of smell contributes a great deal to what you taste in the wine itself.

Sip: Take a good sip. Hold the wine in your mouth; swish it around, allowing it to coat your taste buds. What does the wine feel and taste like? Is it thin and acidic? Rich and velvety? 

 

Savor: Draw in some air through your teeth and let it mix with the wine on your tongue. Since your mouth and nasal passages are connected, inhaling air through your mouth while the wine is on your tongue allows you to taste and smell more complex scents and flavors. Your tongue by itself only has five basic tastes.

What do you taste? Do you like it?

Aromas & Flavor: Enjoy tasting the wine, and jot down descriptive words or phrases you think describe it best.

Texture & Weight: Is the wine light? Crisp? Is it rough or smooth? Full-bodied?

 Overall “Balance”: A “good” wine should taste harmonious, with various flavors present without one flavor dominating over the rest.

Persistence on the Palate: A good indicator of wine quality is how long the wine flavor lingers on your tongue. If it disappears the moment you swallow it, it may lack concentration of flavor, or it was made with substandard grapes. A great wine lingers on your tongue after you’ve swallowed it, and you can savor the aftertaste.

Compare your Notes:

After you’ve tasted and written down your notes, talk with your fellow tasters. Share your likes and dislikes, and pick your favorites.  Taste your wines again as you discuss them, it’s possible you will discover a new flavor or a change as it sits out in the open air. Have everyone pick their favorites and then reveal the labels!

Now that you’ve finished your tasting, its time to eat! Pick a wine with our meal and pay attention to how the flavors change and interact with the food you’re eating.

 

Have fun & enjoy! 

 

Posted on January 12, 2016 and filed under Educational, Holidays.

Host your own Cheese Tasting Party

The holidays are well underway, and you’re probably looking for fun entertaining ideas, right? Well a great idea to entertain friends and family is to host a tasting party! Who doesn’t love trying new foods and drinks?  This handy little guide will help you pull off a delicious, stress-free cheese tasting party that you will want to have again and again.

One key thing to remember is to keep it simple. You don’t have to buy a large number of different cheeses; stick to 3-5 different varieties of cheese. If you buy too many, you run the risk of overwhelming the palate, and you won’t be able to appreciate the different subtleties of flavor.

You should account for around 4-5 oz. of cheese per person. Since this is a tasting, each person only needs a small amount of each cheese. You don’t want them to fill up before they get the chance to try them all!

Remember to get cheeses from different categories (fresh, semi-soft, semi-hard, etc). Each category of cheese has distinct qualities. By purchasing cheese from multiple categories, you give your guests the best variety of cheese for tasting.  You can also buy cheese from the same country, region, etc., and create a theme for your cheese board to enhance the cheese tasting experience.

Keep in mind that you should have some crackers or some crusty bread as well. It will help your guests clear their palates between tastings. You don’t want your flavors to get all mixed up!

Now that you’ve got your cheese and crackers (or bread) you’re ready to go! Organize your cheese tasting order from mildest cheese to strongest cheese so your taste buds don’t get overwhelmed. Also, relax, have fun, and discover new cheeses.

Happy eatings!

 

**We will be posting more tips, suggestions, guides, and ideas for tasting parties so be sure to check back and see what we’ve got for you! You can also follow our Twitter handle @NorthLightFoods for updates.**

Posted on December 15, 2015 and filed under Holidays.