Happy Hour: Pinot Noir and Honey Goat Cheese

Welcome once again to Happy Hour. This week was long and there was much grease filled carnage earlier in the week so we decided to tone down happy hour to wine and cheese.  In this my babydoll decided to help me out. 

In his way.

My plan was to do a goat cheese and honey melt.  To put it quite simply you put goat cheese in an oven proof ramekin, drape honey over it and put it under the broiler just long enough for the honey to bubble a little and the goat cheese to soften.  Then you take it out and try not to burn your fingers as you greedily spoon it over crackers.  It is delicious.  I usually pair it with a chardonnay (or any wine with citrusy notes) it is one of those dishes perfect for that evening that has a bit of a chill but followed a warm day.

However before I could go out, my babydoll stopped at the store and picked up a honey goat cheese and a bottle of Pinot Noir. (I mentioned I needed to pick up wine and cheese for the Friday Happy Hour so he helped me out by picking them up for me.)  The goat cheese has honey in it so there was no need to add anything.  This particular one is from the Public’s Deli. I’m guessing that is the brand.

Because the honey was already added and I hadn’t tried this before, we went with the standard unwrap and serve method rather than actually heating anything up.  As a bonus it let me use my Boska Cheese knife.  We picked up a set a while back and I have to say they are really nice cheese knives.  The handle and blade are all one piece so you don’t have to worry about the blade coming loose and they are just so elegantly shaped.

The cheese itself was interesting.  The honey made it lightly sweet but was mixed well enough that the honey did not become cloying. The sweet tamed the kind of goat-y funk that goat cheese can have but it was still in that tangy goat cheese realm. 

Over all it was actually a really good cheese, even if if wasn’t what I was expecting (or what i would serve with this wine). To be honest if I were to get this cheese again (which I would ) I think I would crumble it into a small oven proof dish and sprinkle finely diced jalapenos on it and then heat it up until the jalapenos were fragrant and sinking into the softened goat cheese.  I think a little vegetal heat would go well with this cheese and I think heating it slightly would prove to be beneficial to the melding process flavor-wise even though goat cheese isn’t a great melting cheese.

But that is for another time.

To go with this cheese was the wine my baby doll picked up.  He picked up a Chateau Souverain Pinot Noir 2018.  When I asked him why he chose this wine, he said…

“There was a couple doing the polite public arguing over by the Chardonnay and a couple of people without masks breathing on the bottles in the area so I picked one I didn’t think we tried before and hadn’t been breathed on.”

Not exactly how I usually pick wines, but somedays that is just what happens.

So this is tonight’s wine.

According to the Chateau Souverain website…

Chateau Souverain Pinot Noir 2018 opens with dark red fruit aromas reminiscent of cherry and raspberry. Notes of fresh blueberries are complemented by hints of clove and vanilla. The wine finishes with cleansing acidity and a fruit-driven balance that gives the wine a polished sense of elegance.

Chateau Souverain

I love how wine descriptions and perfume descriptions share so many similarities.  All of the notes mentioned are ones I like, so lets see what actually comes out in the bottle. 

First off, this is a screw top bottle rather than a corked one.  While I generally go for corked I know there is nothing wrong with the screw tops.  I just really like the act of using the corkscrew to open the wine before pouring.  I have had several screw top bottle wines that I did enjoy.  I’ve also had several that I didn’t, although truthfully I could say the same about wines with corks. I only mention it because of the scent.

One thing that I notice happens with a lot of screw top wines is they get a scent.  When you first open them, the scent tends to be bitter and highly acidic and slightly sour. The first sniff makes you think the wine has gone off. I don’t know why, but it seems to happen to red wines with screw tops often enough to be noticeable.  I have also noticed that the initial scent doesn’t have a lot to do with the wine. Usually the wine hasn’t gone off and it is just that initial scent so you have to actually taste it to find out about the wine.  It is best to pour it into the glass and sniff then.  The bitter acidity of that first scent dissipates and then you get the scent of the wine. Perhaps it has something to do with the wine splashing against the metal cap. I don’t know. But this wine had it when opened and lost it once poured.

There is still a slightly acidic scent to the wine in the glass, but it is mellowed with fruit and spice notes. In drinking it, I noticed the clove and vanilla mentioned. The vanilla is a very light hint hiding behind the clove. There was a deeper hint of cherry, but it was more bitter cherry than sweet cherry. It was cherry with a bite.

In a five star rating system I would probably give it a three.  It is nice to drink, but not spectacular.  I would also use it in a beef stew.  I think the fat and heaviness of the beef would actually work well with the flavors of the wine when cooked down. And as it is nice to drink a glass with a portion of the stew would not be amiss. I think that it would actually do really well in a beef stew, especially one that leaned into the sort of warm spices you find in Moroccan type flavors. There the wine would be a distinct asset to the flavor of the stew.

In a happy hour setting, I probably wouldn’t serve this wine with goat’s cheese again, honeyed or otherwise. The goat’s cheese was a little too tangy to suit this wine, even with the sweetness the honey brings.  I would also not go with too pungent a cheese. 

I would probably serve this with a triple cream brie served on baguette rounds and topped with a cherry compote. The cheese is mild and the bread unspiced so it wouldn’t compete with the flavors of the wine.  The cherry compote would bring out the fruity flavors and dim down the acidity.

I would pick up this wine again to drink although I usually prefer something more rounded and less acidic (which is why it only receives a three on my rating system). I think pairing it with the brie and cherry compote would work to bring out the fruiter aspects of the wine and not make it so spice forward. As the store near us carries the wine it is easy to pick up and as it costs $9.99 it is not a break the bank price, so I am fairly certain it will make a return trip to our house sometime in the future. It may not be a special occasion wine, but it is a good solid affordable wine.


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