By Chef Denise Creek Garcia
Cheese, wine and the Tango. Yes, the tango. Now what does the tango have to do with a cheese and wine pairing? I’ll explain. My definition of tango is a beautiful dance preformed by two people in amazing tandem, which is stunning for the observer. Zamorano cheese and the Tempranillo grape/wine equal tango on the palate!
My search for a Spanish cheese, after trying several Manchegos, led me to Zamorano – a beautiful sheep milk wheel of hard cheese with notes of spice, charcuterie and the terroir of España. Tempranillo is a plum, cherry, earthy mineral wine from the Rioja region of Spain. Simply because these two dancers are from the same neighborhood didn’t guarantee they’d perform well together, but they did!
My first experience was two weeks ago at the First Street Wine Company in downtown Livermore. Caddis Livermore Valley was the featured winery of the evening and they were pouring their Tempranillo. I’d intentionally placed Zamorano on our Cheese Therapy pairing plate and stood back to watch. Jaws dropped and eyes opened wide when folks experienced the two together. YES!
Last weekend took me on the beautiful drive through our Livermore Valley to Bodegas Aguirre Winery. Dr. Aguirre: Winemaker, craftsman, surgeon (the list goes on) has created a Tempranillo. How lucky was I? He holds high honors in my book and has for many years. The man just knows how to make amazing wines. I placed my Zamorano in front of him, he took a sip of wine, a nibble of cheese and then…silence. “Where can I get this cheese?” he asked. Success again!
Zamorano tastes like salumi, it’s unique, it’s fun, it’s bold and most of all a perfect pairing with Tempranillo. With the sheep and Cheesemaker’s cooperation I will always sell this cheese. Growing up, living and becoming a Cheesemonger in the Livermore Valley is an organic fast track to developing the cheese and wine-pairing branch of my career. The wine is here; my job is to find the other dance partner – the cheese. I’m proud of this pairing and I encourage everyone to experience their relationship. Watch out for the exceptional wine and cheese tangos to unfold from Cheese Therapy. Until the next dance…..eat cheese, drink wine and smile.
Zamorano gets characteristic flavor because of the particular breed of sheep’s milk it comes from – the small, scruffy Churra. Zamorano has a similar zigzag pattern on the rind, and cylindrical shape as do the Castellano and Manchego from the same region.
Chef Denise Creek Garcia is co-founder and Cheesemonger at Cheese Therapy, an emerging mobile cheese business based in the Livermore Wine Country