I have attended so many wine and cheese parties since opening the winery that it has been very difficult to keep track of which cheeses I have tried and which wine I have tried. When I first started to attend these parties I would try to remember which wines and which cheeses I really liked so I could get them in the store. But unfortunately by the time I got home I had forgotten the name or label.
Pretty soon I started to keep a small notebook in my purse and would write down the wine or cheese variety as soon as I tried it. Of course my friends snickered at my notebook when I first started carrying it around but now they usually call me the day after a party asking what kind of wine we drank or where could they buy the cheese that was served.
So during a recent wine and cheese pairing someone asked me for my top three cheese recommendations and which Candlelight wines I would pair with them. After looking through all of my notes, here are my top three recommendations.
My third place cheese is Brie. I love the creamy texture of Brie and how versatile it can be. Since Brie can be served plain on crackers, placed on top of apple slices or even be used as a cracker dip there are so many ways to pair almost any wine with this cheese. However, one of my favorite combinations is to wrap a wheel of Brie in a puff pastry, top with honey and walnuts and bake it until the pastry is golden brown. I’ve tasted this combination with both our red and white wines and found that the Candlelight Red is a great compliment to this wine.
For second place, slices of Smoked Gouda rise to the top of my list. I love the smoky flavor of this cheese and how thick the texture is. While there are many recipes that call for a Smoked Gouda I am old fashioned when it comes to Smoked Gouda. Simply pairing a few slices of the Gouda with an oaked Chardonnay really make my day. If I am really hungry I will make a grilled ham and gouda sandwich and enjoy that with my wine, otherwise a few slices will do.
Finally, my favorite cheese is one that we feature quite often at the winery – Adams Reserve Sharp Cheddar. This aged cheddar is amazing. While many people get scared by the word “sharp” it is quite smooth for a cheddar cheese. We have made many recipes with this cheese so it is difficult to comment on just one recipe to feature, however, we have all agreed at the winery that this pairs the best with our Sangiovese wine. The combination of a dry red wine and the “sharpness” of the cheese really tantalizes your taste buds.
Next time you are shopping at your local grocery store, be sure to stop in the cheese section and pick up one of these cheeses. See what combinations work best for you!

Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on other winery topics, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com

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Amanda Conkol and her husband Chris are the owners of Candlelight Winery
in Garrettsville, Ohio. Amanda’s passion for wine is evident in her weekly
column “Notes From The Vineyard”, but that’s not all Amanda is passionate
about. She maintains a full schedule raising twin daughters, working a day
job consulting as an IT Project Manager and is the Girl Troop Leader for
her daughters’ troop. When time allows Amanda loves to travel (especially
to Disney World) and go for runs throughout Nelson Township.