There is nothing more classic (or delicious) than a wine and cheese pairing, but it can be daunting to execute. There are so many different types of wines and cheeses! That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to mastering the art of wine and cheese that’ll impress all your guests next time you’re in charge of the cheese board and the wine list.
Here’s one basic rule – it’s important to think about the cheese pairings as either complementing or contrasting with the flavours of the wine. Simply put, that means either cutting through the fatty grittiness of the cheese with something sharp or complementing the complex flavors of it with something round and heavy. There are a multitude of suggestions for pairings out there, so just use our suggestions to guide you and see what your palate prefers.
Here’s another easy thing to keep in mind before we get into it – you can also roughly match the intensity of cheese and wines you are pairing. Wines with a greater alcohol content will be more intense and taste better with a richer, more intense cheese. Wines with a lower alcohol content provide a less intense experience, and as a result can be paired with more delicately flavored cheese for a more harmonious pairing.
White Wines & Goat / Sheep Cheese
When it comes to bright, refreshing whites, try a goat’s cheese. The fruity and acidic flavors of a Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Riesling are able to take on and cut through the cheeses’ rich creaminess in a way that really works. A nice oaky Chardonnay, on the other hand, can complement that same richness. If you’re feeling like something Mediterranean, firm sheep and goat cheeses like feta and haloumi are also on the menu.
Red Wines & Aged, Firm Cheese
If you’re in the mood for a red wine, try a cheese that is stronger and firmer. A hearty aged cheese paired with the right red wine is amazing. A rich, tannic Cabernet or Merlot, for example, can somehow perfectly encapsulate and complement the complexity of an aged gouda or cheddar cheese. For younger or semi-firm cheeses, a lighter and fruitier red can work great, for example an old-world Pinot Noir. In general, the older the cheese the more intense the wine it should be paired with.
Dessert Wines & Strong (Stinky) Cheese
For more complex (dare we say stinky) cheese, mouldy or heavily aged cheeses and sweet desert wines make the perfect pair. The sweetness of a dessert wine helps to balance the overall strength in taste of the cheese, making it actually taste naturally creamier. The heavy flavor of the cheese will balance out the powerful sweetness of the wine, too – a match made in heaven. Port and stilton or Sauternes with roquefort is wonderful, as is any rich blue cheese with a great German beerenauslese.
Sparkling Wine & Creamy Cheeses
Cheese and a glass of bubbly is pretty much the best way to start any dinner or event. How to perfect it? The bubbles and the tartness of prosecco and champagne are well-paired with the unique blend of smoothness and saltiness of creamy soft cheeses. It’s a long, delicious list: anything from brie to muenster to camembert to cremont will do a decent job. Trust us – this is a heavenly combination.
So there you have it. To round things off, if you are still unsure what to pair then here’s a final tip – an easy suggestion is to simply pair wines with cheese from their own region. The locals know best, after all!
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