It’s unofficially National Wine and Cheese Day today. Envisioning this delicious pairing might include elegant stemware, a charcuterie board with only the finest cheeses, and the obligatory pinky-out while sampling refined crushed grapes. 

While it may seem a delightful palate-pleasing experience, there’s actually a science behind it. Perhaps an emerging one, but one worthy of a Journal of Food Science experiment. The minimally-explained results: cheese does make wine taste better. 

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The group of 31 volunteers tried several wine and cheese pairings in small one-hour sessions over five days. The experiment aimed to control the tasting a bit better, since actual wine tastings involve spitting out the sip after swirling and swigging, and the more informal tastings paired with good conversation end up with consuming an extra bottle or two and not always remembering the cheese.  

In the first round, tasters sampled the wine alone, picked the flavors they tasted, and rated the overall taste. After pairing with cheese in the next round, “Overall, the researchers found, each cheese influenced the dominant taste of each wine in different ways that were more or less consistent across the 31 volunteers.”

In sum, “Across the entire experiment, the effect of the cheese was cumulative. Rather than the wine palate becoming overwhelmed by a mix of cheese flavors, it actually seemed to become more sensitive.”

Chalk and Cheese in Downtown Laramie at 209 S. 2nd might be a good place to conduct your own experiments. With friends, good conversation, and probably an extra bottle of vino or two. 

Chalk and Cheese owner Misty Hester says their wine and cheese pairing methods are quite sophisticated. “We pick our pairings by trying them!”

Credit: Misty Hester/Chalk and Cheese A little cheese makes the wine taste better. Chalk and Cheese in Downtown Laramie agrees, and invites you to choose your own pairings.
Credit: Misty Hester/Chalk and Cheese
A little cheese makes the wine taste better. Chalk and Cheese in Downtown Laramie agrees and invites you to choose your own pairings.

“We’re always pouring a red, white, and rose. We do a $5 pairing. Pick a pour and a bite. You get to play with flavors. What's fun is the customers enjoy those flavors bursting in their mouths. We suggest some, and then it’s ‘tell us what you taste or what happens’. 

Hester also appreciates how the approach makes wine tasting less intimidating, and more accessible for a variety of budgets and tastebuds.

 “It opens up their palates, with cheese from Holland and wines from Slovenia. Just a small little taste, so they’re not out a lot.  It’s been fun because that’s one area that reaches many demographics. Young professionals who don’t have the money to buy the whole charcuterie, to older people who don’t know which pairings to try.”

Chalk and Cheese is open Tues-Sat., 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.


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