Chardonnay + Cheese

DIY-CHARDONNAY-CHEESE-PLATE

When I first started working for a wine company, I knew absolutely nothing about wine beyond the fact that I liked to drink it.  I had no formal education in wine and the extent of my experience with it was picking up the cheapest or prettiest + cheapest combination bottle in my local market.  Like a lot of early wine drinkers, I couldn’t differentiate between varietals, wasn’t quite sure which wines pair with what foods and couldn’t appreciate any of the complexities that I now seek in my fermented grapes.  While most of the people that work in our company don’t fall in the “wine snob” category, we still experience know-it-alls (or think they know-it-all) wine snobs at events and in meetings with buyers which makes the industry intimidating and honestly, annoying at times.  My personal opinion is that wine is a subjective experience that is supposed to be fun and it’s supposed to be an experience.  Certain wines will enhance certain flavors in certain foods, but learning it through experience rather than studying wine notes from a book is really what this industry should be all about.  No two palates are the same and everyone is going to taste wine differently which is exactly what makes it so fun and personal.

This division of our company puts on wine tastings in the customer’s preferred setting of choice and while some of our reps have a ton of wine experience, many of them don’t and are eager to learn what to serve at their tastings and what favors are going to pair the best with each wine.  Last month our focus was Chardonnay so I had some serious fun putting together a cheese plate and easy apps that would be delicious with Chard.  I thought I’d pass it along just in case anyone is interested in learning more about what to pair with Chardonnay.  Check it out below :-)

CREATING THE PERFECT CHARDONNAY CHEESE PLATE

When you think of a wine party, the most obvious food pairing is cheese.  However, with Chardonnay, cheese isn’t always the easiest to pair with a varietal that has such incredible stylistic range.  While some chardonnays are extremely fruity and citrusy, others are oaky and buttery which can compete with the creamy cheeses you might initially think to pair with a white wine.  I explored a few different cheeses to find the best combination with our Chardonnay that offers a perfectly balanced profile of fruit and oak.  As told by our Sommelier:

With most Chardonnays, you get some green apple, a little citrus, and depending on the producer either no or tons of oak and malolactic fermentation to give it that buttered popcorn style. Our Chardonnay undergoes an extremely cold, slow fermentation that extracts tons of tropical fruit character out of this wine. Scents of pineapple, banana, white peach and pear jump out of the glass at me when I pour it. It spends about six months in American oak, but only 20% new oak. The rest of the barrels are all 2-3 years old so it is more for a textural component rather than making the wine overly oaky. You get some notes of vanilla and toasted coconut, but it is definitely in balance with the fruit character of the wine.

CHEESE: I sought to find the best cheese to pair with our style Chardonnay and found a few favorites: Mt. Tam, a brie-style triple cream crafted by Cowgirl Creamery in California.  Another favorite was Cabot’s Clothbound Cheddar which is nutty in flavor and has a similar consistency to parmesan while being much more mild to taste – perfect for our style Chardonnay.  The two can be purchased in a set from Cowgirl Creamery that also includes and absolutely unbelievable Echo Mountain Blue Cheese (still delicious with our Chardonnay when drizzled in a little honey and perfect for the reds at your wine tasting tasting), or can be ordered individually as well.  If you’re looking for less expensive options, both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s offer a wide variety of double-triple cream, brie and mild-medium cheddar cheeses that will be perfect for pairing with Chardonnay.

OTHER BITES TO INCLUDE: In my opinion, creating the perfect cheese plate is all about striking a balance between cheeses and other small bites that enhance the flavors of your wine.  Some crackers and perhaps a loaf of fresh French Bread are key.  The fig spread and honey found in both our Wine & Cheese Party and Cheese Party Packages are essential for getting that sweeter balance and will make cheeses like a tangy blue cheese more approachable for those who might not love an extra sharp cheese on its own.  Figs are also particularly delicious with our Chardonnay and can be served with any cheese imaginable all the way from a creamy brie to an aged, extra sharp cheddar or parmesan.  An artichoke spread (also found in both our Wine & Cheese Party and Cheese Party Packages) offers a savory yet citrusy touch while olive oil is a natural pairing and will give your guests something light to dip their bread in when they’ve indulged in enough cheese ;-)

PS: From a gorgeous marble cheese board to honey, olive oil, salami, cheese knives, and more, our Wine & Cheese Party and Cheese Party Packages offer a one stop shop for all of the goodies you will need to create the perfect wine and cheese party.  Cheers!

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Feeling Blue

Surfers Manhattan Beach Pier 3

Surfers Manhattan Beach Pier

Surfers Manhattan Beach Pier 3

Surfers Manhattan Beach Pier 2

Last week was super emotional… To the nth degree.  Over the course of the past 2 weeks, we’ve had some big personal obstacles and I really hadn’t been that down in the dumps in a while.  Do you ever have those weeks when you just feel blue?  Thankfully, the 4th of July rolled around at just the right time and instead of throwing a big bash like we’d originally planned, we opted to spend time together – just the two of us and a few close friends for the fireworks.  It really was all that I needed to feel whole again.

A few weekends ago, Jake was out of town and I biked up to the Manhattan Beach pier alone.  I parked my bike, grabbed a sandwich at my favorite deli and walked the pier until I could walk no further.  It’s funny and so cliche that some of the simplest things really are what make you the happiest, but that day, I was completely overcome with joy and gratitude.  My heart and soul felt full and I was bursting with sheer bliss.  Some days when we’re doing the daily entrepreneur grind, feeling like we’re scraping by and wondering when we’re ever going to start saving for a house… or a wedding, I forget why we live here.  Days like this day at the Manhattan Beach pier remind me why I moved here and why it’s all worth the wait.

Here’s to simplifying, getting past the daily noise and filling your life with gratitude.  Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

 

Ohhhh Leo…

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 11.12.07 AM
So this happened over the weekend…..

Yes.  That is real life.  I’m still having a hard time processing it. I, like every girl in the entire world have been obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio for as long as I can remember.  And on Saturday, all of my wildest fantasies dreams came true.  Well, almost.

Huge thanks to BAFTA for always choosing ONEHOPE Wine for their BAFTA LA Pre Golden Globes Tea Party (Leo was drinking our Chardonnay).  I was able to chat with him for a brief 10 seconds where instead of chumming it up about something original and memorable (my amazing former boss, Bonnie is credited for discovering him), I was so starstruck and overwhelmed that I could only formulate a measly, “Congratulations!  Your performance in Wolf of Wall Street was absolutely unbelievable…. I loved every minute.  I’m Megan, by the way, from ONEHOPE Wine… you’re drinking our Chardonnay… thank you so much for the support.  Do you mind if we take a picture together?  I would love that so much.”   Like EVERYONE. Else. There.  FAIL.  He was so kind, so gorgeous, smiled during our entire 10 second exchange (please, just make me melt even more), but immediately after taking the picture, I was pushed and shoved away by the rest of the women swarming him… and that was it.

Did I mention that I love him?  <3 <3 <3

Happy Monday!

My Life in Pictures

  • Came across a picture I took last week of this amazing winter wonderland tablescape at Wildflower Linen.  Definitely got me excited for holiday decor!
  • Serious packaging envy!  A case of Sea Smoke was delivered to the office today and I could not believe how gorgeous their shipper and wine inserts were.  Talk about customer experience!  I think we have a little catching up to do ;-)
  • Picked up a few (ok, like 30) paint chips on my way home from the office tonight.  I’m feelin’ Benjamin Moore’s Black Ink now… what do you think?
  • An impulse trip my favorite meat market on earth greeted me with this view.  One of those “pinch me, I really live here” moments.
  • Finally home from the office, shooting out a few more emails (or trying to) with my little one by my side.  She likes to take over the keyboard  =^. .^=

Hope you’re having a great week!

Katie + Chris

How gorgeous is this couple?!  I had the pleasure of doing Katie and Chris’s wedding flowers last fall after meeting her through our mutual friend Tiffany.  After anxiously awaiting the pictures from their big day (my camera was out of battery day of – worst luck ever!), Katie passed these on to me and I was too excited to wait for another Friday to come for a Friday Flowers post.

Now on to the love story!  The perfect pair met while she was Coxswain on the Long Beach State Crew Team and he was her coach – adorable!  The husband-and-wife-to-be were friends for about 4 years before their romance blossomed and now they both work for Los Alamitos schools – she is a speech language pathologist and he works for the auxiliary department.  For their Dana Point nuptials, Katie wanted to stick with a laid back, rustic, nautical, beachy feel (L-O-V-E) and wanted a fairly simple color palate of white blooms and yellow Billy Balls… one of my favorite combos.  Lucky for me, the bride was just as fun as her style and working with Katie and Chris was an absolute delight :-)

Florals:
{Bride} O’Hara Roses, White Roses, Ranunculus, Dahlias, Gardenias, Billy Balls
{Boutonnieres} Billy Balls, Dahlia (for the groom)
{Bridesmaids} White Roses, Dahlias, China Mums, Spider Mums, Stock, Billy Balls
{Flower Girls & Flower Ceremony} Gerber Daisies
{Table Arrangements} Hydrangeas, China Mums, Spider Mums, Dahlias, Stock, Billy Balls

Venue: Ocean Institute – Dana Point, CA
Photographer: Mark Brook Photographers