Eric Asimov wrote a great piece for The New York Times on red wine and cheese, featuring some advice from the pairing pros at Murray’s. Boils down to: RELAX, it’s just cheese and wine.
“I tell people not to be afraid,” said Tia Keenan, who recently became the first director of food services for Murray’s Cheese, and whose first job is to develop a cheese and wine bar for Murray’s near the flagship store on Bleecker Street. “The worst-case scenario is that you have a wine with a cheese that doesn’t really go so well together, nothing more tragic.”
Recently, with a 2010 Côtes du Rhône Brézème from Eric Texier, the sort of excellent but modest red wine that I’m happy to drink on any given night, I sampled a few different sorts of cheeses and found many of them to be enjoyable, even unexpected matches. Up in Smoke, a smoked, fresh, creamy goat cheese from Oregon, was delicious with the savory Brézème. So was Jasper Hill’s Harbison, an oozy, soft, bloomy rind cheese from Vermont with a pronounced fruitiness.
Best of all was one of my favorites, Ossau Iraty Vieille, a hard raw sheep’s milk cheese from the French Pyrenees. This pairing was brilliant, the earthy qualities of both wine and cheese enhancing and amplifying each other.
The point is not to obsess over the specifics of food and wine pairings, but to feel free to explore different matches. Seeking perfection is daunting and more often than not will disappoint. Looking for the good rather than the perfect allows more flexibility and fewer inhibitions, and opens one up to the quality of versatility.
“Pairing is about process as much as about results, and that’s scary,” Ms. Keenan said. “The important thing is the journey, not the destination.”