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NorCal Wine Blog

Learn Secrets to Perfect Wine and Cheese Pairing at St. Supery in Rutherford

“Sauvignon Blanc is a good pairing for goat cheese,” F. Scott Tracy told me. “But goat cheese isn’t necessarily a good pairing for Sauvignon Blanc.” Before each of us sat four glasses of St. Supery wine, a plate with four cheeses and various accompaniments.

A wine and cheese pairing at St. Supery in Rutherford, Napa Valley

I was at St. Supery to try out a new wine and cheese pairing class that is part of an overall refresh of their Rutherford tasting room and hospitality offerings. Tracy, who leads this and other classes, has been helping consumers understand food and wine combinations for twenty years. His last position was at Napa Valley’s Michelin-starred La Toque restaurant where he'd been sommelier since it’s founding in 1998. Prior to that, he sommed at several restaurants in Los Angeles. He joined St. Supery this summer as Guest Experience Manager.

Tracy and I sipped the 2011 St. Supery Estate Sauvignon Blanc. It is a crisp wine, but mouthwatering rather than sharp. Its flavors of grapefruit, lime and green tropical fruit deserve a poolside cabana. We then took a bite of goat cheese on a slice of baguette. The cheese harmonized with lingering flavors of the wine. Tangy citrus met tangy, grassy cheese. So far so good.

Again, we sipped the Sauvignon Blanc. Now its flavors were muted. The wine felt flatter and rounder in my mouth. The chalky-creamy goat cheese insulated my tongue from the acidity which is at the core of Sauvignon Blanc. “The wine highlighted the goat cheese, but the cheese makes the wine seem less attractive and complex,” remarked Tracy, his point proven.

That was not the end of our experiment though. We took another bite of the cheese and bread, but this time along with a single table-grape. Then, one last sip of the wine.

The Sauvignon Blanc’s vibrancy and range of flavors had returned in full. The grape’s naturally high acidity compensated for the low acidity of the cheese. This meant our palates were in a nearly neutral state for the wine.

We went on to experience three more combinations of wine and cheese, each clearly illustrating a different aspect of their interaction. The principles are easily understood and can be applied to other food and wine pairings, and to cooking in general. With just a little bit of advance experimentation, visitors can use what they’ve learned to delight their own palates and “wow” friends at home.

Visiting St. Supery

St. Supery is located at 8440 Hwy. 29 in Rutherford and open daily from 10am - 5pm. Parties of 6 or less need not make reservations for the six wine Estate Tasting ($15) or the four wine Single Vineyard Tasting ($25). Library tastings, tours and classes are readily available by appointment (made online). The tour and classes each last 30 minutes and cost $25 - $35, except for the 60-minute “Bordeaux Varietals and Your Senses” class ($50).

Two tasting areas on the ground floor can accommodate scores of visitors for the walk-in tastings. Private tastings and classes are conducted upstairs where there is a small private room and a large area filled with tables. It can be divided with curtains. Visitors can also enjoy the art gallery, with rotating exhibits organized by San Francisco’s Paul Thiebaud Gallery, taste wine al fresco at the small tables in the front courtyard, or play a game of pétanque under the shady trees.

Part of the outdoor tasting area at St. Supery

The main St. Supery tasting room: there is another bar to the right and a second room in the background.

Have a ball at the pétanque courts at St. Supery.


Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to Copyright 2012 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.


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