Celebrate National Cabernet Day in Winter Park with a 5-cheese flight designed by one of the world's top cheese experts


  • photo via max-mccalman.com
One of the world’s foremost authorities on all things cheese, Max McCalman, has left New York City and is now the maître fromager at the Wine Room in Winter Park.

McCalman tells us he's been visiting Florida for years, having met the owners of the Wine Room at a cheese class of his they attended before opening the shop. As well, he's been affiliated with Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival since 1997.

Jim Hepple, general manager of the Wine Room, says McCalman will help revamp the Wine Room's cheese program as well as open a new Wine Room location in South Florida. Once it's open, "Max will be primarily working out of the Delray Beach location," Hepple says, though he'll still oversee the Winter Park cheese program as well.

McCalman is a multiple James Beard Foundation Award winner and is the author of Cheese: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Best – one of the best books written on cheese – and Max McCalman's Wine & Cheese Pairing Swatchbook, The Cheese Plate and Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maître Fromager (all published by Clarkson Potter). He also has a cheese and wine pairing app for iOS, for consulting when buying on the fly.

The Daily Meal describes McCalman thus:
Detailing McCalman’s history is to tell the story of artisan cheese in NYC. He began his career at Chef Terrance Brennan’s storied Upper West Side restaurant Picholine in 1995 and during his tenure elevated the concept of “the cheese course” to national acclaim. Naturally, there’d been numerous restaurants that offered a cheese service or cheese plate prior to McCalman’s efforts, but he set the new standard for the United States. 
Hepple says that they've added monthly cheese events overseen by McCalman, and that retail cheese sales have increased greatly since his advent.

In fact, to celebrate National Cabernet Day (Thursday, Aug. 31), The Wine Room launched a five-day, five-cheese cabernet sauvignon pairing flight. You'll have to stop into the store to learn all five cheeses, but McCalman did fill us in on on a few of the pairings: an aged, Belgian-produced Gouda called Stompetoren Grand Cru, a Wisconsin cheddar, and Vermont's Bayley Hazen Blue.

Really? Gouda with cabernet? American cheeses with Italian wine?

"Some of the best wine and cheese are produced on opposite sides of the planet," McCalman declares. Sticking within the same country "can give an attractive thematic element," he says, and of course terroir is important, but as long as the wine and the cheese are balanced, the plate will be balanced as well.

Nothing to wine about there.

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