Taste of Vail seminar: Port and cheese make for a happy couple | VailDaily.com

Taste of Vail seminar: Port and cheese make for a happy couple

Lauren Glendenning
VAIL CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

Port and cheese – it’s a match made in heaven.

Whether you want it for an after-dinner cheese course, dessert or in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday, the pairing will form the perfect marriage on your palate and bring a smile across your face.

The pairing is what Paul Mugnier, of Dow’s Port, and Jill Giacomini Basch, of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, will talk about Friday night at Sapphire in Vail in one of the Taste of Vail’s new seminars.

And while the sweet, silky ports and creamy, bold cheeses are the stars of the event, Mugnier said there’s another story to tell Friday evening.

“The key element of the whole thing are these two family businesses that are different and similar in interesting ways,” Mugnier said. “These are mom and pop, small operations. It seemed like a very natural fit.”

The two companies began working together a few years ago when Mugnier said Dow’s Port started reaching out to dairy farms to pair interesting cheeses with its ports. The original plan was to pair the ports with blue Stilton cheese, but as Mad Cow disease struck Great Britain, the opportunity quickly dissipated, Mugnier said.

“So it made us think about American cheeses,” he said. “Artisan American cheeses have come so far in the last few years.”

Mugnier compares the small operation cheese production in the United States to where American wine production was back in the 1970s – charming family operations producing really quality products in small batches.

Dow’s Port came across the Point Reyes Farmstead Blue Cheese Company, which the Giacomini family founded in 2000 with a mission to produce the nation’s premier brand of high-end, blue table cheese.

The Symington family, behind Dow’s Ports, has built upon a legacy of the previous families behind the port, the Silva and Dow families, to produce the finest ports possible.

“The Symington family has been making port for five generations, and the Giacominis are in their second generation of dairy farming in California,” Mugnier said.

With the sweetness of Dow’s ports, the creamy-style blue cheese by Point Reyes was a natural fit.

“The Dow’s ports have a little bit of acidity – it pairs beautifully with that richness of their blue cheese,” Mugnier said.

The seminar will feature three pairings: Dow’s 20 Year Tawny paired with Point Reyes Toma, Dow’s 2005 Late Bottled Vintage paired with Point Reyes Original Blue, and Dow’s 1994 Vintage Port and Dow’s 2008 Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira Vintage Port both paired with Point Reyes New Blue.

“The cheeses you’re looking at are very bold and full bodied,” Mugnier said. “That’s part of what makes them so attractive with port.”

The Dow’s 20 Year Tawny has a nutty, caramel-like quality that works so well with the Toma, which is a soft, non-blue cheese with a medium-dry style, Mugnier said.

Tasters will also have a rare chance to taste the Point Reyes New Blue, which is so new that is hasn’t been released yet, Mugnier said.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.

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