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Unreserved Wine Talk

238 EpisodesProduced by Natalie MacLeanWebsite

The Unreserved Wine Talk podcast features candid conversations with the most fascinating people in the wine world. Your host, award-winning journalist Natalie MacLean, dives into how it feels to compete in the nerve-wracking World's Best Sommelier Competition, the shadowy underground of wine forgery… read more


105: Wine and Cheese Pairings to Celebrate the Holidays with Janet Fletcher

Should you try a cheese-only cheese course? Why are cheese and bread not necessarily great matches for cheese? Which underappreciated wine and cheese pairing should you try today? How does sparkling wine stack up with your favourite cheeses? Have you been serving cheeses the wrong way? Should you eat the rinds on cheeses?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I'm chatting with award-winning journalist and author, Janet Fletcher.

You can find the wines we discussed at

  • What shift can you see in the restaurant industry's approach to serving cheese?
  • Which mindset shift did Janet want you to make when writing her first book about cheese?
  • How did writing a weekly column create a space for Janet to deep dive into the culture, science and history of cheese?
  • Why should you try a cheese-only cheese course?
  • What extra consideration do you need to make when pairing wine and cheese?
  • Is it a good idea to pair wine and cheese with grapes?
  • Which problem might you encounter when pairing cheese with crackers?
  • What creative bread and cheese pairing should you try?
  • Which type of underappreciated wine does Janet recommend as a great pairing with cheese?
  • Why is Gouda the perfect cheese to pair with your brandy?
  • Why is sparkling wine Janet's "desert island wine"?
  • What characteristics and flavours will you pick up on with Tomales Teleeka cheese?
  • What do you need to know about double and triple cream cheeses?
  • How are wine and cheese very similar?
  • Which little-known, connoisseur-approved wine and cheese pairing should you try?
  • What's the right way to serve Parmigiano-Reggiano?
  • Why does Parmigiano-Reggiano make a great table cheese?
  • Why do contrasting textures work so well with wine and cheese pairings?
  • How can you tell which cheeses aren't meant to be sliced?
  • What basic tips can you use when choosing a cheese knife?
  • Should you eat the rinds on cheeses?
  • Can you pair blue cheese with sparkling wine?
  • How many cheeses should you serve at a dinner party?
  • Can you use the horizontal tasting concept with cheese?
  • What's the best way you can pair sparkling wine with goat cheese?
Key Takeaways
  • I love Janet’s advice that simplicity is often the key to a great cheese board -- let the cheese be the star both visually and flavour-wise rather than a lot of condiments.
  • When it comes to condiments, many can clash with your wine whether they’re sweet, vinegary or pickled. The same goes with bread and crackers, best to stick to fairly neutral flavours.
  • I can’t wait to experiment more with sherry and cheeses, especially an aged Gouda that has those nutty, butterscotch flavours.
  • I found it interesting that triple cream cheeses are about 75% butterfat -- that’s the dry matter without any water versus 62% for double cream cheeses and 45% for average cheeses.
  • It’s interesting how our perception of the salt in cheese increases as it ages and loses moisture.
  • Janet has great advice for chipping rather than cutting hard cheeses to maintain their crunchy crystalize structure -- you can see the special knife she recommends in the video version of our conversation (
About Janet Fletcher Janet Fletcher is the author or co-author of nearly 30 books on food and beverage, including Cheese & WineCheese & Beer and Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Janet publishes the weekly Planet Cheese blog and is the cheese columnist for Specialty Food and Somm Journal magazines.   She teaches cooking and cheese-appreciation classes around the country. Her journalism has received three James Beard Awards and the IACP Bert Greene Award, and her food writing has appeared in numerous national publications, including The New York Times, Saveur, Fine Cooking and Food & Wine.



To learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode, visit the

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