Afrim Pristine will host "The Art of Cheese and Wine Pairing" at 5:30 p.m. (PST) July 14 as part of Palm Desert Food & Wine's virtual experience.
Afrim Pristine says he has tried more the 3,000 cheeses in his lifetime. When pressed to name a favorite, he initially hesitates to narrow it down to just one, but then admits, “I love blue cheese. I would say it's definitely one of my all-time favorites. I love creamy, funky, and big bold flavors. I love when a cheese really takes your taste buds for a ride.”
It’s safe to say cheese has taken Pristine on quite an excursion. The 41-year-old hosts Cheese: A Love Story on Food Network Canada and in 2013 earned the title of the youngest maître fromager (Cheese master) by the France based Guilde Internationale des Fromager.
He will guide viewers through a wine and cheese pairing demonstration, The Art of Cheese and Wine Pairing, at 5:30 p.m. (PST) July 14 as part of a virtual program offered by Palm Desert Food & Wine, which plans on returning with an in-person event, March 25-27, 2022 after a two-year absence due to the pandemic.
To purchase tickets, click HERE.
Pristine says viewers will be introduced to cheeses like Humboldt Fog out of Cypress Gardens, California, paired with a sparkling wine from California, and a blue cheese from the south of France, Bleu d'Auvergne to be matched with a California Cabernet Franc.
“Humboldt Fog is amazing. I love it,” he says. “It's a very kind of lush creamy, like funky goat. And the wine has good carbonation and good acidity. And the bleu cheese is a big cheese together with a big red wine. It's going to be a really, really nice pairing.”
He notes a well-paired wine and cheese happens when both flavors work in unison rather than one dominating the other. “I consume the cheese first,” he describes. “I really digest it; think about the flavors I get from it. Then I consume the wine. Same thing, I really drink the wine. Swirl it in my mouth a little bit. When I get the cheese flavor back after consuming the wine, that's when you know you have a good pair. When the cheese flavor is completely gone, maybe the wine is too much; maybe it's too big. Maybe it's too bold for that cheese, but when the cheese flavor creeps back? That's when you know you have a really good pairing. A little trick of mine.”
Palm Springs Life spoke further with Pristine about his introduction to everything cheese and what has kept him inspired.
When did you realize that cheese would be your career?
The Cheese Boutique is my family’s business. We actually turned 51 years in June. It's been kind of instilled in me since I was quite young. I'd say, when I was a teenager, maybe. I've been working in this profession for more than 25 years.
Was there any time when you didn’t think being a fromager was right for you? What kept you interested?
What kept me interested is my love for cheese. I love traveling. I love making cheese. I love aging cheese. I love all the different aspects about it. I've worked with some of the best cheesemakers and some of the best cheese mongers on the planet. All these years I've worked on that and honed my skills. I'm blessed to have the opportunities that I've had and so far so good. I want to do it for another 25 years.
I read another interview with you where you talked about having a stutter as a young child. What did that experience teach you and how has it helped you in life and your career?
Yes, I did have a really bad stutter from when I was about 5 years old. I did speech therapy classes five days a week for five years. It was a challenge for me, when there's a challenge in my life, I try and rise up to it and I try to accomplish what I need to and want to accomplish.
Now I speak in front of thousands of people. It was something I had to work on literally every day for five years when I was young. It was one of the biggest challenges I've ever had to overcome with hard work. I'm blessed to have parents who worked their whole life every day. I think I got a little bit of that work ethic in me.
What is currently your favorite wine and why?
I'm going to give you two because it's not fair just to pick one. I love Riesling. I think if you're going to a cheese party and you're bringing one wine, I think Riesling is a great one to bring. A bigger, drier, acidic Riesling just works so well with cheese. You need crisp, Granny Smith apple kind of flavor. For the red one, because I am thinking off California, I am going to say a Cabernet Franc. I enjoy some tannin and the oakiness. That’s why I love a good California Cab, one of my favorite wines.
More Afrim? Visit cheeseboutique.com.
• START PLANNING: Palm Desert Food and Wine tickets for the March 2022 event go on sale Aug. 1.