Murray’s Cheese Bar on Bleecker Street in the West Village is one of my favorite NYC hangouts. I’m there at least once a week, munching on cheese and enjoying their excellently curated wine list. Benefits to being a regular at a cheese bar: cheesemonger privileges!
Their Cheesemonger’s Choice, a platter of 5-8 cheeses paired with spreads, jams, and honeys is one of the best options on the menu, and the mongers always abide to my tastes (goaty, stinky, creamy) to make the best possible custom plate for me. Similarly, going to a restaurant where you can really get to know the wine list has its benefits: you know your favorites and can explore new wines when they come in. Plus, if a bartender knows a bottle needs to be finished before the end of the night, they know where you’re sitting.
For those who live outside of NYC but still want a taste of Murray’s will be glad to know that cheeses are available for purchase online. I spoke with host/server/former grilled cheese maker Merritt Duncan who gave me some great advice on pairing wines with cheese.
Cheese and Wine pairings
Epoisses are stinky, sticky, and meaty cheeses. They pair well with a dry oaked Chardonnay or a White Burgundy.
Kunik is a delectable mix of tangy goat’s and creamy cow’s milk. Bubbles help break up the thick, dense creaminess so that you keep going back for more. A fruity and dry white, or a rose, help enhance the goat’s milk’s zing.
Comte is endlessly complex, just like a big Cabernet — so let them battle it out in your mouth!
Pyrennes Brebis is a sheep’s milk cheese aged until fruity. This cheese is happy with its regional neighbor from the Basque: a berry-like Tempranillo wine. There’s also Txakolina, a true neighbor to the cheese, and a bubbly refresher of a white. It’s harder to find, but worth it.
Roquefort is the classic bleu that bites you back. Even out this cheese with a sweet, melon-y, and funky Riesling.
“Tasting wine and cheese together goes well when the cheese is chewed up and then mixed with a little mouthful of wine in your mouth, swishing the paste and tasting all the flavors all over your tongue,” says Duncan, who suggests that readers find a sexier way to do this. Also important when tasting cheeses: a plain baguette and some water for resetting your palate.
And, of course, friends! Discussing wine, cheese, and their combinations and flavor profiles is much more fun with friends, even if they aren’t connoisseurs. Because who doesn’t like a wine and cheese party?
Featured photo credit: Robb Report