Going stir crazy? Then let’s take a road trip to nationally-lauded Antonelli’s Cheese Shop in Austin, pack a picnic, and hit a Texas winery that welcomes picnics and is offering tastings.
Optionally, have a happy hour picnic in your own backyard or participate in one of Antonelli’s new virtual road trip tastings.
For fans of fine cheese and local goods, a visit to Antonelli’s is a must. “John and I quit our jobs in pursuit of our passion–a shared purpose of working together to support artisanal producers,” says co-owner Kendall Antonelli. The pair opened Antonelli’s Cheese Shop in 2010 and now not only run their busy cut-to-order cheese shop, but also host 200-plus events yearly and have an e-commerce site which ships cheese gifts nationwide.
According to Kendall (a walking encyclopedia of both wine and cheese), “when it comes to pairing wine with cheese, the first rule is to have fun! If you like the cheese and you like the wine, that’s a start.” She follows some well-practiced guidelines, which we will cover in more detail another time, but read on for her flavor profiles and brilliant wine pairings.
Kendall’s Flavor Profiles for Wine Pairings
Goat milk cheeses: Usually acidic, minerally, tangy, sometimes with citrus zest notes. As it ages out into firm cheeses, it can also take on butterscotch notes. Best pairings in general are dry and/or fruity whites.
Sheep milk cheeses: Nutty, rich, and decadent. While big reds with a lot of tannin are not generally friendly with cheeses, they can pair beautifully with aged sheep milk cheeses.
Cow’s milk cheeses: The most versatile. Better to pair your wine with the style of cheese rather than the milk type.
Wine and Cheese Pairings
Uncork your own Eureka! wine and cheese moment.
Fall Creek 2018 Chardonnay Vintner’s Selection Texas Hill Country with The Mozzarella Company (Dallas) Hoja Santa goat cheese or Bee Tree Farm & Dairy (Manor) Mi Corazon goat cheese
Chardonnay can be challenging to pair with cheese. Enter chardonnay aged in stainless steel barrels offering full flavors of a typical chardonnay grape without oak making it crisper and more fruit forward. This chardonnay is cheese-friendly! Pair with Bee Tree Farm’s Mi Corazon, a fresh goat’s milk cheese that brings out the toasted nuttiness in the wine. Or, The Mozzarella Co’s Hoja Santa, a goat cheese hand-wrapped in hoja santa leaves, adding a depth of flavor reminiscent of mint and sassafras.
Good to know: Fall Creek Vineyards is now open regular hours for tastings at both Driftwood and Tow locations. They are practicing social distancing outdoors. Call ahead.
Pedernales Cellars 2018 Viognier Reserve with Haute Goat Creamery (White Oak) Amalthea
or Latte Da Dairy (Flower Mound) Goat Gouda
Because this viognier grape spends time in barrels, it develops caramel and brown sugar notes. To highlight those flavors, pair it with Latte Da’s Goat Gouda – sweet and tangy with notes of toffee and caramel. These equally bring out the same flavor profile in the viognier. For a complete contrast, pair with Haute Goat Creamery Amalthea, a bloomy style cheese characterized by the white fuzzy mold that grows on the outside, creating a decadent creamline. That creamline and inner paste have a lemony flavor that matches the wine. Although this is a dry Pedernales Cellars viognier, the cheese brings out fruity notes of dried pineapple and apricots in the wine.
Good to know: Pedernales Winery is currently open for “quick tastings” on the patio with limited capacity. Reservations required.
Dandy Rosé 2019 with Pure Luck Farm & Dairy (Dripping Springs) June’s Joy goat cheese
or CKC Farms (Blanco) Baby Blue goat cheese
With a delicate acidity and brightness, the fruity (strawberry, stone fruit, and citrus) wine notes pair beautifully with these goat cheeses. Complement the fruit with balanced June’s Joy, offering both sweet and herbaceous flavors. It’s a customer favorite fresh goat cheese named after Pure Luck cheesemaker Amelia Sweethardt’s son, June, and seasoned with honey, pepper and thyme.
Alternatively, try Dandy rosé with the creamy Baby Blue from CKC Farms. Milder than your typical blue and great for those who are scared of blues! We like how the tangy, minerality and hint of salt pair with the rosé.
CL Butaud Tempranillo 2017 with Eagle Mountain Farmhouse Cheese (Lipan) or Dos Lunas (Austin) Clasico
If pairing red wine with cheese (which is tricky with tannin-heavy wines), a friendly tempranillo is a good option. Semi-soft Dos Lunas Clasico has the texture similar to a store-bought cheddar, although it’s nothing like it. This easy munching, crowd-pleasing raw cow’s milk cheese is creamy and buttery and draws vanilla and dark berry fruit flavors from the wine. Optionally, highlight the spice and subtle earthiness of the wine with Tomme de Hood Eagle Mountain Farmhouse Cheese crafted by David Eagle and named after Hood County, Texas. Packed full of flavor, expect a slightly dry texture with just the right amount of sharpness in the finish.
Good to know: Find CL Butaud Tempranillo at retailers and fine restaurants in Texas or join to order online. They currently conduct virtual tastings every Saturday and are partnering with Antonelli’s Cheese Shop June 13th for a National Rosé Day Zoom wine and cheese tasting.
William Chris Vineyards 2017 Mourvèdre Texas High Plains with Veldhuizen Cheese (Dublin) Sheep Cheddar or River Whey Creamery (Schertz) Caldera Espana
We don’t have much sheep milk cheese produced in Texas, so when we come across a good one, we celebrate it. For that, we go to Veldhuizen Cheese for Sheep Cheddar. It’s grassy and slightly meaty, with a hint of lanolin and balanced salt content, making it a great pairing with this smooth, full-bodied red wine with nice acidity and tannins and hints of cherries and blackberries. For a completely different pairing, try the mourvedre with River Whey Creamery’s Caldera Espana, a pecan wood-smoked cheese. Together, they bring out the slight spice and earthiness of each.
Good to know: William Chris Vineyards offers picnic tables and bottle service with a reservation. The tasting room is currently open at 25% capacity.
Cover photo John and Kendall Antonelli of Antonelli’s Cheese Shop. Photo Amber Kissner
Robin Barr Sussman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance culinary and travel writer who studied at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, Calif. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman is a columnist for Houston Modern Luxury Magazine, Prime Living and Houston House & Home. Her work also appears in Texas Monthly, Fodor’s and Private Clubs Magazine.