I just visited Artisanalcheese.com and read about the various New York City wine and cheese events that are happening this December and January. Everything from Cheese and Wine 101 to Sake and Artisinal Cheese Pairings. Who'da thunk sake and cheese!? Love it! This inspired me. With family coming to town for the holidays I think it will be fun to do wine and cheese pairings in lieu of the ordinary hors d'oeuvres spread. Trader Joe's always has an interesting selection of cheeses (most often some of the same cheeses that are sold at a premium at higher-end grocers) that don't break the bank. If you have a TJ's in your area I recommend starting there then perhaps fill in your selection with some harder-to-find varieties to keep it interesting.
For my pairings I'll offer a selection of European and domestic cheeses to keep it eclectic. I recognize that all palates are different and some may disagree with my selections but here are few of my pairing thoughts...
Stilton, not everyone's favorite, but a good stinky and bitey blue I think is a must for any cheese platter. Stilton is best paired, in my humble opinion, with something robust such as Sirah, or sweet like a Tawny Port or Gewurztraminer.
Brillat Savarin, a thick and velvety French cow's milk cheese, will be nice with a Chardonnay or, if keeping to reds, a Cabernet-Franc.
An extra-sharp domestic Cheddar, such as Vermont's Cabot, will pair well with a hearty Rioja or Cabernet.
To cleanse the palate I'll add some crisp red grapes or halved figs and almonds drizzled with honey.
I'd love to hear some of your thoughts as well!
Cheers and good eats!