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M ANY THINGS MAKE WINE AND cheese ideal partners. On the technical side, both are living substances, created by microbial processes that alchemically transform the original liquid milk or grape juice into complex, tasty and naturally preserved sustenance. Both have been produced for millennia by farmers and herders throughout the Old World’s temperate zones, where both are often produced on the same land, pulling in the same influences of terroir that define the unique soil, climate, seasonal conditions and surrounding plant life. These influences equally affect the character of the grapes on the vines grown there as they do the milk of the sheep, goats or cows grazing in the same territories. Moreover, grape varietals and herd animals have both had centuries to adapt to the particular environment of their respective regions, creating a natural partnership in their resulting products of grape to wine and milk to cheese, the same or complementary molecules weaved into both. Adding to this, both cheese and wine possess lactic acid, which seals the deal for a like-attracts-like marriage. “We can taste how wine completely changes immediately after eating cheese,” explains Rebeca Perez, founder and guide at Rioja Like a Native , based in Logroño, Spain. “It is because of the lactic acid of the cheese that helps the wine to be more rounded and soft, and it is part of the second fermentation of the wine when the malic acid transforms into lactic acid.” A great way to fully experience this earthy combination is to sample wines and cheese from Spain and Portugal; with very few exceptions, nearly every region of each country produces both delights, making pairing options abundant. So, where to begin? Here are key guiding rules for bringing together wine and cheese in the best way possible, followed by some inspiration from two of Europe's gems.

PERFECT WINE & CHEESE PAIRINGS Some things are just better together BY BEEBE BAHRAMI

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SPRING/SUMME R 2019 • B O N V I VA N T T R AV E L . C A

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