Gorgonzola: An introduction
Gorgonzola is an Italian blue-veined cheese originating from the region of Milan in Lombardy. The village of Gorgonzola formerly constituted an important stage for the herds of cows in transhumance, when they descended from the high pastures. After having walked for many days, the cows were tired, and so had to rest, therefore this village had to have the means of transforming the milk of the cows, which gave birth to the term Stracchino di Gorgonzola, which was then simplified to Gorgonzola.
The flavour of Gorgonzola comes from the introduction of a certain type of mould, Penicilium glaucum. The pate is generally delicate and mild. It is an ivory colour when young, it then becomes darker, a bright ochre colour and develops a pronounced flavour when aged. This aged cheese called is ‘Gorgonzola Piccante’, which can be compared to Roquefort or Stilton, after being aged for at least 3 months. Like all blue cheeses, it is pricked to encourage the vital internal mould, also it is constantly enveloped in aluminium foil to block the holes and avoid the serum from draining out during the maturing process.
Gorgonzola is shaped as a cylinder with a diameter of 25 to 30cm, with a height of 16 to 20cm and a weight of between 6 and 12kg. It has benefitted from a Denominiazione Di Origine, the Italian version of the AOC since the 30th October 1955 and from a European PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) since 1996.
This cheese was created in 879, in the natural caves of the valley of Valassina, which has the perfect conditions for the development of the blue mould. In line with the law and tradition, only two Italian regions can make Gorgonzola, and only in the provinces of Novara, Vercelli, Cuneo, Biella, Verbania and the territory of Casale Monferrato for Piedmont and Bergamo, Brescia, Côme, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi, Milan, Monza, Pavie and Varèse For Lombardy.
Only the milk from cows raised in these areas can be used to make Gorgonzola, as is stated in the PDO (Protection of Designated Origin, which guarantees that the cheese of the highest quality.
Which wine accompanies Gorgonzola?
The strong characteristics of this cheese offer a variety of flavours which inevitably influences the choice of wines. Gorgonzola can be mild and creamy as well as piquant, which means that the range of flavours varies. The different characteristics of the different types of cheese should be considered when choosing a wine.
The piquant Gorgonzola, for example, calls for a red wine, slightly aged and full-bodies. Try a figgy, syrupy Muscat or a Marsala. Mild/creamy Gorgonzola calls for a red or white wine, which is mellow and delicate, like a Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Merlot, Langrein Kretzer, Orvieto Classico, Frascati Sup., Malvasia, Chiaretto del Garda et most wines from the New World.
Gorgonzola with beer?
The association of beer and cheese culminates with classic Belgian beers which marry well with blue-veined cheeses. The association of piquant Gorgonzola with Trappist beer is well known (Trappe, Leffe etc). Mild Gorgonzola is best accompanied with a double malt blond beer.
Flavour combinations with Gorgonzola
The classic association is with marscapone and walnuts. But there are many other delicious combinations; vegetables, chutney, honey, mustard, chocolate and lots more. Each season offers a different combination, for vegetables (celery, tomatoes, leeks, beetroot, courgettes) and for fruits (strawberries, pears, kiwi, figs, apples). Gorgonzola can be used in cooking, for simple dishes or more elaborate dishes, and is also perfect for sauces and creams, by adding butter or crème fraîche. This method is perfect for Gorgonzola which has been in the fridge for a long time and has developed a strong flavour.