In a business that can sometimes cultivate pretension, it’s refreshing to meet someone taking on cheese in a fun and relaxed manner. Adam Moskowitz, founder of the Cheesemonger Invitational and owner of Columbia Cheese, wants to do just that, dispelling food’s fear factor and making knowledge more accessible. “My whole thing is to keep it as simple as possible, ” he says. “If you start talking about a cheese’s pith, people might be confused. Why not just say what you mean—its rind?”
To that end, the unofficial chieftain of cheese is working to make it easier for fromage fans to jump in with both feet. Moskowitz recently started hosting workshops, classes and pairings inside the warehouse of his other business, New York City-based Larkin Cold Storage. Dubbed the Barnyard Collective, Moskowitz has created an event space for cheese professionals to gather and talk shop. These aren’t your typical talks about pairing Icewine and blue cheese, however. “When I approach pairing, I am hoping for the wine to elevate the cheese,” says Moskowitz. Focused on finding complimentary notes, he tries to avoid “bully” flavors—“loud, obnoxious, arrogant”—when pairing. “I want everybody to be in a band together,” he says.
Below are Moskowitz’s picks for wine and cheese pairings that make beautiful music.
Hailing from New York State’s Adirondacks, Kunik is a rich and buttery spread of a cheese that plays well with bubbly charmers like Domaine Rolet Père et Fils’ Brut Crémant de Jura, with lively bubbles that are the perfect foil to the cheese’s creaminess.
Light Red Wine
Anne et Jean-Francois Ganevat’s De Toute Beaute Nature, a Gamay-driven blend, pairs exceptionally well with Ossau Iraty Vielle, a hard sheep cheese from the French Pyrenees. Spicy yet ripe, with fresh red–fruit flavors, the wine balances the cheese’s grassy and herbaceous quality.
Medium-Bodied Red Wine
Nusserhof’s Elda from Alto Adige is an old vine Schiava which pairs exceptionally with Nufenen, a hard cow Alpine cheese from Graubunden, Switzerland. The wine’s silky tannins, coupled with rose petal and exotic spice aromas, meld with the Nufenen’s buttery, nutty and fruity flavor. The cheese also offers a hint of spice, in the way of a sharp herbal, complex quality.
Meanwhile, the piney, woodsy flavors of the oozy, bark-wrapped wheel of Jasper Hill’s Harbison blend harmoniously with the earthy and jammy qualities of the Savage Grace 2014 Copeland Vineyard Cabernet Franc from Rattlesnake Hills, Washington. Grab a crusty baguette and dig in.