Savoring the Taste of Blue Cheese

Blue Cheese

Photo Credit: Artizone

As the name implies, blue cheese is a type of cheese with blue, gray, or bluish-green veins. These veins are caused by the presence of Penicillium glaucum, or Penicillium gorgonzola, or Penicillium roquefort. The bacteria from these strains create free flowing blue patterns and give the cheese a distinctive aroma. Blue cheeses have a strong flavor that goes well with several wines.

The Discovery of Blue Cheese

The highly prized blue cheese was discovered by accident when the mold developed naturally in cheeses that had been stored in caves where the bacteria were naturally present. Sometime after this happened, someone evidently decided to taste the cheese. The cheese makers found out that contrary to what they feared, the blue cheese did not ruin their product. Instead, the mold gave their cheese a unique taste and texture. The rest, as they say, is history.

Blue Cheeses Today

Since the first blue cheeses were discovered, cheese makers have come up with new methods to create the blue veins so sought after in these cheeses. The bacterium chosen is injected into the curds or the formed cheese and allowed to mature in caves where the environment is conducive to the growth of the mold.

Among the most popular blue cheeses are Roquefort, Blue Stilton, and Gorgonzola. Later, the Danablue was created as a less costly option because other blues, particularly the Roquefort, are rather pricey. In 1941, the Maytag Blue Cheese was created in Iowa and produced for the market by Fred Maytag II, which also manufactured Maytag dishwashers.

Enjoying Blue Cheese

Blue cheese is definitely not for the uninitiated People who only like mild cheeses will probably find blue cheese a trifle too strong for their taste. But those who do love it swear that a bite of this epicurean delight is pure Nirvana.

In World’s Best Blues (and World Cheese Award Results), Colleen Levine Jill Lewis say, “And no holiday cheese board would be complete without a blue cheese. Whether creamy and mellow or robust and salty, a blue cheese is always appropriate. It can even stand alone, paired with a nice jam or honey, for dessert after a holiday meal…”

Blue cheese can be enjoyed with fruit, with crusty bread, or crackers. It is considered a queenly cheese by many, and as such, it deserves the company of good wine. In The Serious Eats Cheese and Wine Pairing Cheat Sheet, Meg Houston Maker gives some helpful suggestions about the wines that go well with blue cheese: Blue cheeses need wines with both oomph and sweetness to balance their bold flavors and usually very salty, savory body…”

For Roquefort, Stilton, Bleu d’Auvergne, Cambozola, and Gorgonzola, Maker suggests “red Port, Tawny Port, Sauternes, Oloroso sherry, Banyuls, Recioto, Tokaji.”

Garret McCord goes to the very heart of things when he writes Cheese And Champagne Pairings for Epicurious. He says, The thing to remember when it comes to a sparkling wine cheese plate is to go all out. Get rid of the goudas and toss the Taleggio because what we want is butterfat, cream, and lots of it. This is where triple creams, full fat blues, and cheeses laced with truffles all sparkle like the bubbles in your fluted glass…”

You can’t go wrong with blue cheese and champagne, but in How to Pair Cheese with Sparkling Wine Liz Thorpe gives her two cents worth on what goes best with this strongly flavored cheese.

Thorpe says, Moscato d’Asti makes for a sweet, crowd-pleasing wine, and it takes well to any of the world’s great rinded blues. Try French Fourme d’Ambert, English Stilton (or better, the raw milk Stichelton), or Jasper Hill Farm’s Bayley Hazen Blue (recently awarded the “Best Raw Milk Cheese in the World” honor), or a mellower foil-wrapped choice like Point Reyes Bay Blue. (The more peppery blues like Spanish Cabrales mow the wine over.)

“That wine is the frilly, peachy Moscato d’Asti which, alongside fudgey blues with earthen edge, plays the role that dripping autumn pears might otherwise hold. That it’s semisweet is helpful too, that succulent sugar offsetting blue’s elevated salinity.”

Blue cheese and wine are a virtually effortless and totally delicious way to prepare for guests with discriminating palates. It is also a good way to treat yourself to rich flavor without much fuss.

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