Educate your palate and have fun at the same time

Tasting different combinations of local wines and cheeses can be eye-opening and great fun.

Delta Grand sommelier Paul Clark pours a glass of local bubbly to pair with an unusual cheese combination as part of a wine and cheese seminar

Although earthy and fruity aromas can describe both wines and cheeses, some of the descriptors for one or the other certainly could not be applied to the other.

Neither sandy nor ‘smells like like raw potato,’ would be good applied to wine, yet to certain cheeses and their rinds, it’s not a bad thing, according to Reg Henderson of the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Mind you, to the uninitiated, descriptions of smelling like leather, farmyard, tobacco, fungussy, or fusel might not sound very promising when applied to a beverage you’re expected to enjoy drinking, but in fact, all are accepted terms used to describe some of the aromas in good wines.

Most wouldn’t be very positive when applied to cheese.

Sommelier Paul Clark of the Delta Grand Okanagan explains that it’s more important to smell wines than it is to taste them.

So, swirling and sniffing are actually more important than the next two wine tasting steps, sipping and spitting.

He and Henderson did a double act this week as part of a series of Spring Okanagan Wine Festival events held at the Delta Grand, pairing B.C. wines with flavours such as a variety of Canadian cheeses or a variety of chocolate desserts.

Tonight it’s Sweet and Savoury, and Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m., it’s Sinful Pairings of Chocolate and Wine. Reservations should be made through the Grand Bay Cafe in the hotel.

As Henderson pointed out, there are a surprising array of very tasty cheeses being made in Canada, from fresh and soft cheeses to semi-soft, blue and hard cheeses, with regional specialties across the country.

He advised that, as with fine wines, smelling a cheese can tell a lot about its age and character, and sometimes its origin.

He noted that pairing beers with cheeses is actually easier than pairing wines with cheeses, but for that reason, perhaps not so much fun.

Clark helped workshop participants to be sensitive to the varied aromas in a glass of wine, and then how to use that in pairing it with food like cheese for the most complementary flavours to result.

Testing different combinations of food and wine can be very enlightening, particularly under professional guidance, and at the same time you can enjoy giving your taste buds some new experiences.

As the 19th annual Spring Okanagan Wine Festival continues through the weekend, there are dozens more events up and down the Okanagan, from a Cheesy Sweet and Savoury Competition at Okanagan College to a pinot noir showcase at Mimi’s, a Food Rave at Ex Nihilo in Lake Country; East meets West at Kalala or new Flavours of Lazeez at Volcanic Hills in West Kelowna.



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