Lifestyle

US Wine, Cheese And Meat: The Essentials

At The Wine Rack

with Christopher Reckord

Thursday, August 30, 2018

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The United States of America is the world's largest consumer of wine, the world's largest producer of beef and the world's largest producer of cheese. It's also the fourth-largest producer of wine. It is against this background that their Office of Agricultural Affairs at embassies in the region seek to educate chefs, wine services professionals, wine and cheese importers and representatives from the food industry in general on specifics of these products.

The wine, cheese and meat pairing master class event held recently at the US Embassy in Kingston was titled “Smoke This, Sip That”. It was conducted by the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 2-certified Gillian Ferguson, who led the room full of attendees through the tasting of six California wines along with accompanying meats and cheeses.

American Wine

According to a study from WineAmerica, the National Association of American Wineries, wine has a US$220-billion impact on the US economy and is responsible for over a million jobs. Wine is made in every state by 7,762 wineries. The top five producers are New York, Oregon, Washington, Virginia with California and its 3,674 wineries producing 90 % of America's wine. If California were a stand-alone country it would be the fourth-largest producer of wine. It is no surprise then that all the wines we tasted at the event were from California. These included Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay, Wente Riesling, Beringer Founders Estate Pinot Noir, Silver Palm Zinfandel, Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Merlot and Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.

American Cheese

As a nation of immigrants, the United States is a melting pot of many cultures. It is said that when the first pilgrims arrived in America, they brought cheese with them on the boat. The incoming immigrants also brought the expertise to make cheese and this has helped to create an industry that today produces almost a quarter of the cheese in the world making over 600 different varieties. These selections range from European-style favourites such as Mozzarella, Cheddar and Parmesan to American originals like Monterey Jack, Colby and cream cheese. Cheese can be classified in several ways, including milk type, flavour and rind, origin by country or region; the most widely accepted method is by degree of hardness. The top cheese-producing US states are Wisconsin (nicknamed “America's Dairyland”) and California.

On offer at this wine, cheese and meat pairing master class were the following cheeses: Belgioioso Parmesan, a hard cheese; Great Lakes Gorgonzola, a soft, crumbly blue-veined cheese; Alouette-Montrachet goat cheese, a soft, moist and creamy cheese; the Borden Monterey Jack, a semi-hard cheese; and Borden Extra Sharp Cheddar, a relatively hard cheddar, the second most popular cheese in the USA (after mozzarella).

American Beef

The US Meat Export Federation was very well represented by its Caribbean Territory Manager Liz Wunderlich, who demonstrated some of the common beef cuts that are available from US processors and how to use them in new and interesting ways. The featured meat pairings for the evening included jerk marinated top sirloin cap kabobs with béarnaise jerk sauce which perfectly complemented the Wente Riesling; the braised and deboned oxtail wonton, although excellent, slightly overpowered the Beringer Founders Estate Pinot Noir; a very special sweetwood-smoked centre cut by The Courtleigh Hotel & Suites Executive Chef Mark DeKrines went well with the Silver Palm Zinfandel; the roasted split striploin “Manhattan” was served with Fischer & Wieser roasted raspberry chipotle sauce. My favourite dish was the grilled 100% ground beef sliders topped with caramelised onions, chipotle mayo and gorgonzola cheese which was paired with the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.

As with any wine-tasting session, the conversations in the room grew louder as we tasted through the wines, and individuals discovered new products and, more importantly, met their importers. We look forward to the next American culinary experience.

 

Christopher Reckord - Information Technology Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to creckord@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram @chrisreckord and on Twitter: @Reckord

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