A Beautiful Marriage

Wine and cheese: what could be better?

Photography by Kip Dawkins  |  Food by J Frank  |  Styling by Neely Dykshorn and Julie Vanden Bosch

Click on the photos above to see all our pairings.

It’s no surprise that Virginia’s wineries are turning out some pretty amazing juice these days. With 15 wine-producing regions and 275 wineries—and accolades pouring in from around the country, including taking home a whopping 191 medals at the 2016 International Eastern Wine Competition and the 2015 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition—Virginia has clearly established itself as a contender in the wine industry.

Yet, as enjoyable as Virginia wines are all by their lonesome, they get even better when expertly paired with another one of Virginia’s culinary claims-to-fame: our cheese. From chèvres to aged cheddars, and Goudas to tangy blues and creamy mascarpone, Virginia’s dairies are churning out some pretty incredible cheese. And when they come together? Well, let’s just call it a moment of pure bliss for both the oenophile and the turophile.

Here are recipes to accompany all of our pairings:

Peach Chutney

12 pounds yellow peaches, peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped

8 ounces cooking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

8 ounces onion, thinly sliced

8 ounces seedless raisins, chopped

12 ounces light brown sugar

2 ounces preserved ginger, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

15 fluid ounces white vinegar

 Mix the peaches, apples, onions, raisins, sugar, ginger, garlic, salt and cayenne in a large pan. Add vinegar, and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Cook slowly for about 1 1⁄2  hours, stirring regularly. When smooth and thick, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. While still warm, pack into jars. Cover and seal when cool. Will keep for about six months. Makes about three pounds.

Serve with Grayson from Meadow Creek Dairy & Rapidan River  Semi-Dry Riesling from Prince Michel Winery.

Red Tomato Jam

4 1⁄2 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 small onion, diced

1 1⁄2 cups cider vinegar

1 tablespoon or about one inch of broken cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon allspice

1⁄2 teaspoon cloves

Combine all ingredients in a pan and simmer until mixture reaches jam consistency. Pack and seal in jars.

Serve with Farmstead Fresh Chèvre from Caromont Farms &  2009 Vintage Rosé from Barboursville Vineyards.

Plum, Blackberry and Ginger Conserves

2 cups plums, pitted and finely chopped

2 1⁄2 cups blackberries

1 1⁄2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger

1 cup orange blossom honey (or other fruity honey)

1⁄2 cup orange juice

zest of one orange

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a low boil and simmer stirring frequently, for 30-40 minutes. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool. Refrigerate. Will keep for several weeks. Makes 3-3 1⁄2 cups.

Serve with Piedmont from Everona Dairy  & 2009 Meritage from  King Family Vineyards.

Rosemary-Walnut Shortbread

1 3⁄4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1⁄2 cups chopped walnuts

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1⁄2 cup herbal honey infused with lavender, thyme and rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1⁄2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, diced

Place the flour, walnuts and salt in a food processer. Pulse a few times to blend until walnuts are small. Add butter and pulse again until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add honey, lemon juice and rosemary, and pulse until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic, and form into a log 1 1⁄2 to 2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut log into half-inch thick slices. Put slices on cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a rack.

Spicy Pecans

2 cups pecans

2 cups canola oil

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground Aleppo pepper or cayenne

2 teaspoons cumin

1 tablespoon salt

 Boil the nuts in water for 8 minutes. Drain. Heat the oil in a pot or heavy-bottomed saucepan to 350 degrees. Mix spices, and coat pecans well while still damp. Shake off extra spice, and fry 5-6 minutes or until golden in color. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle liberally with spice mix again. Cool and store in a closed container.

Serve with raw Sharp White Cheddar from Oak Spring Dairy & 2009 Chardonnay from Gray Ghost Vineyards.

This article originally appeared in our October 2011 issue.

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