Holiday Cheese & Wine Pairings with Alice & Lulu’s

by Gabrielle Martin

The holidays are a festive time full of family and feasting, with ample opportunities for revelers to eat, drink, and be merry; whether it’s a cozy night cuddled up by the fire in your favorite footie pajamas, a neighborhood get-together, or your office’s ugly sweater contest, a cheese plate with wine makes for effortless entertaining—and it just goes to show how a few simple, sophisticated elements, when paired correctly, can be a crowd-pleaser.

Here are holiday cheese and wine pairings with everybody’s favorite, Alice & Lulu’s Alpine Eatery and Wine Bar.

Laura Godin, half of the dynamic duo behind Alice & Lulu’s—her half being hospitality and wine, while her partner Alexis is the food portion of the equation—says, “Each individual cheese board is unique and comes down to personal taste; there are, however, general guidelines of items you can get to make your cheese board pop.”

To start, you want to make sure you have three to four cheeses that have distinct flavor profiles. “These could include creamy, nutty, sharp, or unique profiles,” Laura explains. “Some of our favorite creamy cheeses are brie, camembert, and feta; nutty cheeses include aged Gouda, Gruyere, or Manchego; sharp cheeses could include Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, or even an aged clothbound cheddar.”

Cheese board

“Once you have your cheeses selected, you’re halfway there!” Laura says. “This is a cheese board, after all, and you have just selected the key contenders. The best cheeses are crafted from fresh, original ingredients and are made to suit a range of unique palates, so whatever you do decide to pick will work perfectly.” She lists the following as some of the shop’s most popular Maine-made cheese sure to make a turophile melt:

  • Evangeline (Ash-Ripened) by Spring Day Creamery in Durham, ME;
  • Sugarloaf (Alpine) by Kennebec Cheesery in Sydney, ME;
  • Polar Vortex (Blue) by Fuzzy Udder Creamery in Whitefield, ME;
  • Camembert (Bloomy Rind) by Silvery Moon Creamery in Westbrook, ME;
  • Bonfire Raclette (Washed Rind) by Crooked Face Creamery in Skowhegan, ME 

Next, you need to pick the ingredients that the cheese will be served on—the cheese vehicle, if you will. “Pick a range of your favorite crackers, or bread lovers—for two more locally made options, and personal favorites of ours, we recommend Maine Crisp Co. Crisps (they’ve got several flavors, and are a safe option for those with gluten intolerance), or, for a fresh loaf option, you will not be disappointed with the rustic sourdough by Bigelow Fields Bread House that we get baked fresh weekly (artisanal local, small batch bread, because what’s better than that?).”

Cheese board

Now, here’s the part where you pick the items that will accompany the cheese to bring some fun flavors and color to your board: “Fresh and dried fruits, spiced nuts, and seasonal preserves are some of our favorites. Additional condiments could include toppings or vegetables, or delicacies such as Maine honey, sun-dried tomatoes, quince paste, or port-soaked figs. Think of these as the decorative and exciting items that will bring your cheese board to life, making it look like an artist’s creation in the middle of your hostess table.”

Cheese and wine were made to be paired: that’s why Laura says the ideal cheese board-wine pairing experience pairs with a red white, a white, and a sparkling. “Depending on the size of your tasting group, we suggest opening all three bottles of wine to taste them side-by-side to find your favorite pairing.” She then adds, “After all, what’s après ski without wine?”

  • “Crisp, lighter-bodied white wines such as Vermentino or a sparkling wine like Prosecco pair well with fresh, unripened cheeses such as feta and burrata. We recommend a bottle of our Tuscan Bruni Plinio 2020 Vermentino, retailing at $16.”
  • “White wines that are more fruit-forward and medium bodied with subtle oak pair well with creamy cheeses like Brie or Camembert. We’d highly recommend our Chavy-Chouet Bourgogne Blanc from the Meursault appellation, located in the sustainable selection and retail at $27, to pair with your soft buttery cheeses.”
  • “Aged cheeses—such as Cheddar, Manchego, or Parmigiano-Reggiano—pair perfectly with the medium-heavy bodied, complex tannin structure and gorgeous fruit profile on a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. For those cheese selections, we would suggest our 2015 Château Gaillot Fournier Bordeaux blend, retailing at $15; if you have the opportunity, open the bottle 20 minutes ahead of sitting down to enjoy the cheese board.”

Cheese board

 No time to DIY? Leave it to the pros: Sugarloafers can visit the Alice & Lulu’s website to customize their own cheese board to pair with select wines from their collection. Their retail hours for the week of Tuesday, December 21 thru Friday, December 24 are 2:00pm to 6:00pm, closed on Christmas Day.