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Wine and Cheese Pairing: From Sicily to Belgium

Wine: Fondo Antico Nero d'Avola 2007 (about $17)
Cheese: Maigre du Nord sheep’s cheese from Belgium

I have a weak spot for the Nero d'Avola grape. It’s named after the small town of Avola in the southeast tip of Sicily, but is now grown all over the island, mostly to produce big Syrah-like reds. In the late 1990s, I traveled across Sicily with my future wife and we have many good memories of drinking copious amounts of red wine made from the “Black of Avola” grape. The wines are usually loaded with peppery tannins reminiscent of Syrah, but with a distinctive stamp of southern Italian flavor. Sicilian wines have become more and more sophisticated in the decade that has passed since I was there, but they remain a great value. The Fondo Antico Nero d'Avola 2007 has a nose of pencil shavings, dark cherry, raspberry, black pepper and black leather. It has a tart and slightly bitter taste of liquorice, classroom eraser, black magic marker and minerals. Despite sharing good memories of Sicily, my wife Dianne wasn't a fan of this bottle, but I enjoyed it.

We paired the Fondo Antico, from the deep south of Europe, with a cheese from the other end of the continent – the Maigre du Nord from Belgium (15% MF). This low-fat, high flavor goat cheese softens the black pepper flavors of the wine, but has enough body and texture to punch through the mighty tannins of the Nero d’Avola.

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“Wine and Cheese Pairing: From Sicily to Belgium”