If a good glass of wine is made great with the right cheese, and if the saying is true that “local pairs best with local,” then the Finger Lakes region has hit the culinary jackpot. Long known for producing a variety of high-quality wines tinged with terroir, the Finger Lakes now turns out cheese on the same plane. And it’s not just the bright orange blocks of cheddar of the past; instead, farmers and cheese makers are crafting artisan products that hit every note from decadent to sharp, creamy to crumbly and buttery to earthy. While influenced by regions as far as Ireland and France, these new cheeses have a distinctly Finger Lakes flair. —Rochelle Bilow
Finger Lakes Cheese and Wine Pairings
Across the Pond cheese from Keeley’s Cheese:
Keeley McGarr of Keeley’s Cheese recommends her semi-soft washed-rind cheese be enjoyed with a Gewürztraminer or Riesling. “Wine with acidity and brightness cuts through the creamy mouth feel and richness of the cheese,” she says.
Bianco cheese from Kenton’s Cheese:
Kenton Burr’s Bianco Brie-style cheese begs for a sparkler. The effervescence of a chilled sparkling Chardonnay, Riesling or Pinot Noir is a pleasant contrast to the cheese’s mild flavor but heavy, luscious texture
Cayuga Blue cheese from Lively Run Goat Dairy:
This complex, peppery cheese pairs well withsweeter, dessert-style wines, like a Cabernet Franc Ice Wine or Late Harvest Riesling.
Rippleton cheese from Meadowood Farms:
Veronica Pedraza of Meadowood Farms suggests the Rippleton be paired not with a local wine, but with beer. She washes the rind in beer from Empire Brewing Company in Syracuse, so she recommends either their Liv and Let Rye IPA or Downtown Brown Ale. “The cheese is meaty and robust, so it needs malty sweetness to give it balance,” she says.
The above originally appeared in our Fall 2012 issue