Port, Sauternes & Blue Cheese: The Ultimate Sweet/Salty Pairing

I love odd, off the wall food and wine pairings; french fries and sparkling (my fav), Thai food and Pinot Noir, among others. I also love sweet and salty pairings. Sauternes, Port and blue cheese is the ultimate sweet/salty pairing.

Earlier today I lead a tasting event of just that. Sauternes, ports and dessert wine in general doesn't get a lot of attention in our culture. Most people don't know many things about those wines or regions or have even tasted one. That's the idea behind hosting a tasting like this, it's a great educational, eye opening tasting.

photo courtesy of wikipedia
Sauternes is a sweet, white wine that comes from the Sauternes region in southern Bordeaux. The most common Sauternes blend is of sauvignon blanc, sémillon and muscadelle. The sweetness comes from botrytis, or noble rot. This is the result of the wine grapes actually rotting on the vine, concentrating the flavor. This is very common in ice wine and other styles as well.

The result is a sweeter white wine with hints of honeysuckle, stone fruits like peaches and apricots, and can age very well, even beyond 100 years! The sweetness of a Sauternes is a perfect match with salty foods like blue cheese or another classic pairing is foie gras.

Ports are also a dessert wine that pairs well with the saltiness of the blue cheese. Ports are produced in the Douro region of Northern Portugal. They typically consist of multiple Portuguese grapes such as, but not limited to, Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cao, Tinta Barroca, Tempranillo, Touriga Francesca.

Ports are a fortified wine which causes the alcohol content to be much higher than the average, most are around 19%! These wines are a heavier dessert wine than Sauternes and usually is a great ending to a meal paired with some cheese.

The nose and palate on most ports showcases a raisiny, oaky, vanilla and sometimes even molasses flavor. The blue cheese helps to cut through these flavors and evens out the mouthfeel.

Sure it might sound unusual but don't knock it until you try it!


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