Data Science to Easily Pair Wine and Cheese? Yes!

How many times have you wondered which cheeses pair well with your favorite wines? Or perhaps you’ve debated which wines complement your favorite cheeses.

You might have conducted online searches or looked at books for advice. Ultimately you probably found the answers, but how long did it take?

Now, thanks to data science and a Canadian professor, you can find results in an instant.

University of Toronto professor Gary Bader specializes in biological network analysis; he and a team of computer scientists and molecular geneticists developed a free interactive website, Wine and Cheese Map, to suggest pairings for about 100 red and white wines, and about 270 cheeses.

“You just quickly look at a picture and see patterns that would be very difficult to find if you were looking through data spreadsheets one row at a time,” Bader told the BBC.

The website process is very simple. To find which wines pair best with your favorite cheese, just type the name of the cheese in the search box. In an instant, you will be shown red and white wines that pair well with it. Similar cheeses will also be identified.

For example, if you have some delicious Gorgonzola in your fridge, and wonder what wine to drink with it, simply type in “Gorgonzola.” You will discover that it goes very well with California Cabernet Sauvignon, as do three similar cheeses, Cashel Blue, Stilton and Fourme d’Ambert.

Or if you have a bottle of Shiraz ready to pour, and want to know what cheese to pair with it, simply type in “Shiraz” and you will see the answer (as shown in the map below): Gruyere, Winchester Aged Gouda and many other cheeses.

In addition, the map’s interactive features allow you to move between different wines and cheeses. For example, if you click on “Gruyere” in the above map about Shiraz, you will be shown a new map (below); and you will discover that Gruyere also goes well with California Sauvignon Blanc, Tuscan Sangiovese, Syrah and California Zinfandel. Again, other similar cheeses are also noted.

The map can be used for planning parties or even when you’re shopping. So next time you are visiting a cheese bar in your favorite grocery or specialty store, or choosing wine from your cellar to go with that special cheese in your fridge, open up Wine and Cheese Map on your mobile device to help make your selections.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Wow! Wine in Whiskey Barrels from Jacob’s Creek

Jacob's-Creek-Double-Barrel-Shiraz-with-ShadowIf you’ve been looking for something different in your wine glass, look no further. Jacob’s Creek offers its Double Barrel line of wines that were matured in traditional toasted wine barrels and then finished in whiskey barrels for a unique mouthfeel. These Australian beauties have layers of complexity and integrated tannins, and they are smooth and smoky.

Wow. Aging wine in whiskey barrels? Brilliant!

How did we find them? We were fortunate to join a Jacob’s Creek tasting of a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Shiraz — before and after they were finished in aged whiskey barrels.

The difference was amazing, dramatic and very positive — the “after” wines were rounder, smoother, richer and elegant. The wines did not taste like whiskey, but expressed the character and nuances of the whiskey barrel on the palate.

Jacob’s Creek Chief Winemaker Ben Bryant said: “Our vision for this project was to create something truly innovative and extraordinary. After much experimentation, we can confidently say that we have crafted something special and unique.”

We agree.

“We wanted the flavor of the wine to predominate, yet there had to be a noticeable impact from the use of the whisky barrels,” he said. “So we chose parcels of wine that were particularly ripe, from premium growing regions, and with such intense fruit flavor and big tannins that they would benefit from the second barrel treatment.”

Cabernet Sauvignon is king to our palates when it comes to Washington state and California wine. But in Australia, Shiraz wins every time.

Double Barrel Shiraz (Barossa, Australia) – $19.99
The rich Shiraz was aged in Scotch whiskey barrels to provide complex, well-developed characteristics. Winemaker tasting notes:
Lifted licorice spice aroma with dark plum and toasty notes; on the palate, complex and smooth with layers of rich plum, fruitcake and dark chocolate notes.

Jacob's-Creek-Double-Barrel-Cabernet-Sauvignon-with-ShadowDouble Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon (Coonawarra, Australia) – $19.99
Cabernet Sauvignon was finished in aged Irish whiskey barrels to smooth the flavor and add incredible richness through the full length of the palate. Winemaker tasting notes:
Cassis aromas with mint, dark olive and caramel notes; on the palate, rich flavor consisting of black fruit and herbal notes with soft tannins.

The double barrel wines were released in Australia late in 2014 and have been very popular in that country. Jacob’s Creek is now introducing them to U.S. markets.

Samples were provided by Jacob’s Creek and Pernod Ricard USA. But we’ll be buying some bottles and introducing them to our friends.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave