Valentine’s Day with Wine Goddesses and heavenly cheeses

“Hey, maybe this is the start of a trend.
Maybe this is a whole new trend for old Charlie Brown.
Maybe this is the start of something big!
Maybe next year I’ll get a whole bunch of valentines!”
~ Charlie Brown 

Did you have a loving Valentine’s Day? I watched Charlie Brown’s Valentine for the first time, after learning about the film at the Museum of Science and Industry’s Great Charlie Brown Exhibit.

Normally I don’t have a date on this holiday, but the newly opened Wine Goddess offered the perfect remedy for that. The Wine Goddess opened in January, and offers wine and beer for purchase, week-end drop-in tastings (Fridays and Saturdays), private events and formal wine classes such as my Valentine’s Day date.

The WIne Goddess Evanston Storefront

Last Thursday, owner Diana Hamann and manager Kate Soto hosted an evening with two of my loves, a Wine and Cheese pairing class.


Diana said that in the United States we “drink wine like cocktails,” having it at the end of the day before cooking, rather than as a supplement to our meal. In Europe, on the other hand, cocktails are drunk during happy hour, and wine is carefully paired with the food of its corresponding region.

Wines at the Wine Tasting

After a bad day, said Diana, a good food and wine pairing should lighten the mood: “For a moment in time, everything should be A-OK on your palate.”

“When they [Europeans] sit down to their celebrated cuisine,
out comes their celebrated wine.
It should give you pause.
It is good Feng Shui on our palates.”
~ Diana Hamann

We were instructed on how to open a Stelvin closure (screw cap bottle) in a classy way, as well as when to eat the rind of a cheese and when not to. Diana also showed us how to hold a wine glass by the stem, or “the sassy way” as pictured below:

Holding a wine glass the Sassy Way, Diana Hamann

After these preliminaries, we were treated to delicious pairings, and then even more heavenly pairings as we tried some wines with two different cheeses.

cheeses at the Wine and Cheese Pairing

“The stickier the cheese, the sweeter the wine, the more the nirvana.”
~ Diana Hamann

The pairings were as follows (Diana and Kate will tell you which year):

  • Raventos Cava Rose (Spain) with
    Pont l’Eveque (Normandy, France)
  • Mahi Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) with
    Bucheron (Poitou-Charentes, France)
  • Luca Chardonnai (Argentina) with
    Caveman Blue (Oregon, U.S.)
  • Domaine Pichot Vouvray (Loire Valley, France) with
    Robiola Rosina (Piedmont, Italy)

“Cheese is a white wine game,
especially triple cream and soft cheese.”
~ Diana Hamann

Although cheeses should generally be paired with white wines, Diana made exception to the harder cheeses, such as parmesan, cheddar and aged Gouda. So we tried the following on the red wine spectrum:

  • La Meridiana Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont, Italy) with
    Parmegiano/Reggiano (Emiglia-Romagna, Italy)
  • Jim Barry “the Lodgehill” Shiraz (Australia) with
    3-year old Gouda (Netherlands)

I was impressed that Diana pronounced Gouda properly, and enjoyed the thoroughness of her research. We were each given handouts upon arrival, including a page on how to make cheese. Diana certainly lives and breathes wine and infuses her instruction with much humor.


After the tasting, we were invited to ask questions and learned that we should put dried fruits and nuts with a cheese plate, as “fresh fruit and wine don’t mix.”

Any foods with soy sauce should be paired with sake, beer or white wine, but not with reds. Chocolate goes well with any wine that has a chocolate note, such as port, or New World red wines.


It was a lovely evening that had me going home with the Vouvray, and the Barbera and the Shiraz are on my shortlist for future purchases.

The Wine Goddess is located at 702 Main Street in Evanston, Illinois 60202 and their web site is I look forward to attending more classes, and perusing their 12 under $12 selections.


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