Brie w/Raspberry Preserves & Pinot Noir

Triple creme brie with it’s rich buttery texture and aromas of mushrooms and almonds make for an outstanding pairing with Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is known for its red fruit, bright acidity and earthy characteristics. The refreshing acidity is a natural counterpoint to the creamy silky brie. The wine gently wipes away the cheese from your palate leaving you salivating for another bite.  Add some raspberry preserves to the brie and really take this pairing to a whole new level.  The preserves really make the fruit in the wine pop! So grab a wedge of brie and drizzle some warm raspberry preserves over the top and serve with a toasty baguette. For a more elegant spin on this appetizer, buy some mini phyllo cups, add a teaspoon of raspberry preserves, a piece of brie and top with a fresh raspberry. Grab your favorite bottle of Pinot Noir or try one of these fabulous producers and enjoy!

Recommended Producers

Goat Cheese w/ Olive Tapenade & Rosado

This is one of my all time favorite appetizers. It’s decadent, creamy, crunchy and salty all
in one bite. The creamy, tangy goat cheese slathered on a crunchy, buttery crostini with the briny, salty olive tapenade creates a symphony of flavors on your palate.  This is an incredibly easy recipe to pull together.

This is a great anytime snack paired with a Spanish Rosado. Rosado is the Spanish term for rosé. These wines are a great value and incredibly versatile. Spain and Portugal are both producing some of the best wine values in the world right now.  Contrary to popular belief, many rosés are actually dry and make a great companion for many foods from picnic fare to salads to salsas.

The Muga Rosado from Rioja is a great choice at a great price. The wine is made from the Garnacha, Viuda and Tempranillo grapes. Here are my tasting notes from the 2012 vintage.
Note: Rosados should be consumed within 1-3 years to preserve the vibrant fruit flavors.

Tasting Notes: 2012 Muga Rosado, Rioja (SRP: $12)

Cherry, juicy apple, apricot, pineapple, white blossoms & fennel aromas give way to a medium bodied wine with notes of fresh baked croissants. (Tasted: October 2013) 

Recipe: Goat Cheese Bruschetta w/Olive Tapenade (Makes about 30  crostinis)


Baguette (or you can buy a bag of pre-made crostinis if you’re short on time)
Butter (for toasting)
6 oz log of Goat Cheese
8 oz Olive Tapenade (Whole Foods make a delicious version or you can try this recipe from Epicurious)


Slice baguette in 1/4 inch diagonal slices. Add butter to griddle and lightly grill on both sides. You can skip this step if using store bought crostinis, but this will add another layer of buttery goodness! Spread with a generous portion of goat cheese and top with olive tapenade.

Epoisses & Burgundy

Epoisses de Bourgogne paired with an earthy, mouthwatering red Burgundy is an epic pairing. But, you have to really love stinky cheese to appreciate this match. According to legend, Epoisses was Napolean’s favorite cheese. Epoisses is a soft cow’s milk cheese and is categorized as a  smear-ripened cheese. The cheese is washed with a blend of rainwater and brandy 2-3 times until it’s fully ripened (about 6 weeks).

In fact, the aromas are so pungent that France has a ban on carrying open containers on the metro, according the BBC.  Once hailed the “King of all Cheeses,” the flavor is decadent. It’s  rich, earthy, salty and slightly sweet with a touch of spice. A red burgundy (100% Pinot Noir) is a phenomenal pairing with this as is the sweet dessert wine, Sauternes.  When pairing with Sauternes, use cinnamon-raisin bread with a drizzle of honey for an ultimate match!

While we splurged a little and opened a the 2009 Albert Bichot Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru Burgundy with this, any good bottle of Burgundy will work just fine. A white Burgundy will also work quite nice with this decadent cheese. It’s all about terroir with this pairing.

Antipasta & Barbera

Grab an assortment of Italian meats and cheeses and a bottle of Barbera (bar-BEH-rah) and you’ve just created a perfect menu for any casual get together. Barbera is one of my go-to pizza wines, I always keep a few bottles in the house for take-out night.  Barbera is a grape varietal from the Piedmont region of Italy and tends to have vibrant fruit characteristics of mixed berries, cherry and plum with floral notes of violet, high acidity and mellow tannins.  Many red wines from this region tend to boast high tannins, but Barbera has more of a laid back personality which makes it a versatile wine that generally drinks best when young and pairs beautifully with an array of menu items from eggplant parmesan to pizza to pasta carbonara! Barbera also tends to be one of the best values at your local Italian eatery. If you can’t find a Barbera, opt for a Chianti Classico or Vino Nobile.

Recommended Producers 

Damilano Barbera d’Asti (SRP: $16)
Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $20)
La Spinetta 2011 Barbera d’Asti Ca Di Pian (SRP: $22)

Gorgonzola, Fig & Prosecco

Gorgonzola Dolce and fig spread is a perfect addition to any cheese plate. The dolce is a younger, sweeter and milder version of the pungent gorgonzola and is absolutely delicious with the sweet, rich fig spread and a nutty, refreshing Prosecco. Prosecco is a sparkling wine from the Veneto area in Northeast Italy. It’s made from the Glera grape. This is an affordable everyday dry sparkling wine that pairs exceptionally well with the gorgonzola & fig spread and an array of appetizers. You can even take it up a notch and add some prosciutto to this pairing. Take a cracker and spread the gorgonzola, a slice of prosciutto and top it off with a little dollop of Dalmatia fig spread and you have an awesome treat!

The fig spread and salty gorgonzola make the fruit notes in the wine come to life and the vibrant acidity in the Prosecco works in concert with the creaminess of the cheese.  In general, Prosecco is a refreshing, dry sparkling wine with vibrant citrus, orchard and stone fruit aromas along with floral notes and a hint of nuttiness, honey and fresh baked breads.  Here are some great options under $20.

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Chèvre w/Heirloom Tomatoes & Sancerre

Chevre is a goat cheese that originated in the Loire Valley of France.  One of the all time classic food and wine pairing is Chèvre and Sancerre. Sancerre is a region in the Loire Valley, that produces wines made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. This version tends to be a little more mineral driven, austere, steely and grassy than it’s New Zealand counterparts.  The vibrant acidity in Sancerre is the perfect counterpoint to the creamy, tangy goat cheese.  While, I adore this classic pairing in its purest form, it’s also delicious when you spread creamy Chèvre on crostinis and top off with pan-roasted baby heirloom tomatoes and a little fresh chopped basil or parsley.  This is a great spin on the traditional bruschetta. To learn more about the different styles of goat cheese, visit  In general, Sancerre tends to be more expensive than Sauvignon Blancs from other regions in the world. Average prices range from $20-$40. A nice mid-priced option is the Vincent Delaporte Sancerre. If you’re looking for a more budget friendly alternative, feel free to serve this with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Tasting Notes: Vincent Delaporte Sancerre, Loire Valley, France

This clean, crisp expressive wine boasts notes of lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange zest, fresh cut grass and a hint of tomato leaf on the nose that give way to vibrant acidity & hints of flint & limestone on the palate. Perfect with Chèvre, Seared Salmon and an array of Seafood.  (SRP: $30)

Other Recommended Producers: 


Baked Lemon Ricotta & Kerner

Baked lemon ricotta has an exotic and refreshing tang with the texture of a decadent cheesecake. You can buy it online or at your nearest Whole Foods market.  This is reminiscent of lemon cheesecake without the crust. It’s amazing! The cheese makes the sweet lemon and tropical fruit burst on your palate.

Kerner is a an aromatic white grape that was created in 1929 by crossing two German grapes (Riesling and Trollinger).  Abbazia is one of the world’s oldest wineries dating back more than 800 years.  It was founded by the Augustinian Order of Canons Regular in 1142 and has a steep tradition in making exceptional wines. This dry white wine is made from 100% Kerner grapes and is a great alternative to Pinot Grigio. The 2012 vintage offers exotic aromas of white flower, juicy apple, ripe peach, lemon curd and a hint of tropical fruit. The palate bursts with ripe juicy fruit and offers refreshing acidity with a crisp finish. It simply reminds me of summer in a glass. Consume within 1-3 years of release date to ensure the best drinking experience. This wine is also fantastic with an array of seafood dishes.

Alternative Pairing 

Serve the baked lemon ricotta for dessert with a drizzle of fresh raspberry sauce and pair with a sparkling Brachetto from Italy.
The raspberry notes in the wine play well off the raspberry sauce and the lemon notes in the baked ricotta. After all, raspberry and lemon is a classic combination. Read Crystal’s tasting notes on the Rosa Regale Brachetto here.


Herb Crusted Goat Cheese & Rosé

Herb crusted goat cheese with short bread cookies paired with an off-dry rosé is the perfect pairing for a relaxing summer afternoon and it all comes together in less than 5 minutes!

When it comes to goat cheese, Sauvignon Blanc is always a perfect match, but I assure you a rosé can be just as tantalizing!

It’s hard to explain, but something magical happens on your palate when you combine the tangy goat cheese with the lovely floral notes of lavender in the Herbs de Provence, a touch of sweetness from the short bread cookies and the sweet succulent strawberry flavors and crisp acidity of the rosé. Yes, you could certainly use regular old crackers, but the short bread really takes this pairing to a whole new level.

For this pairing, I chose the Caves De L’Angevine Rosé d’Anjou. It’s a luscious off-dry rose made from the Cabernet Franc in the Anjou area of the Loire Valley. Aromas of sweet summer strawberries and ripe watermelon leave you salivating for that first sip. The palate boasts juicy red berries and melon flavors with a touch of minerality, refreshing acidity and a kiss of sweetness. Rosé’s from this area tend to be a touch sweeter than its counterparts from Provence.

The preparation is super simple. Take a log of plain goat cheese, roll the cheese in ¼ cup of Herbs de Provence (dried). Make sure all sides are well coated and serve on a platter with short bread cookies. Add some fresh fruit on the side and you have a beautiful snack to share with friends.

The wine was purchased from Whole Foods and retails for $10 a bottle! At this value, it’s a great wine to buy by the case for your summer picnics and barbecues. Cheers!