Wine and cheese pairing is a sophisticated food and drink item, but many individuals are unaware that certain pairings simply do not work. The key to great cheese and wine pairings is understanding what distinguishes each type of wine and how it will interact with specific types of cheeses.
Tips for Matching Wine and Cheese
1. Pair wines and cheeses of comparable intensity.
This is the most essential piece of advice for generating your own matches. The delicate flavors of Gruyère would be overpowered by a large, robust Cabernet Sauvignon, but they are nicely complemented by Pinot Noir.
As a general rule, wines with an alcohol content greater than 14.5% ABV are more potent and pair well with cheeses with potent flavors.
Wines with less than 12% alcohol by volume are less powerful and pair well with cheeses with more delicate flavors.
2. Red wines with bold flavors pair well with aged cheeses.
As cheese ages and loses moisture, its flavor gets more robust as its fat content increases.
These two characteristics are perfect for pairing with robust red wines because the fat content of the cheese balances out the tannins in the wine. For optimal results, choose matured cheeses such as Cheddar, Gruyère, Manchego, Gouda, Provolone, or Parmesan-style cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano.
3. Match extremely pungent cheeses with sweeter wines.
Moscato, Gewürztraminer, Late Harvest dessert wines, and Port are excellent complements to smelly, washed-rind, and blue-veined cheeses.
Why? The sweetness of the wine helps to counteract the “funk” in the cheese, resulting in a creamier flavor. In addition, the aroma of the cheese will counteract the sweetness of the wine.
Port with Stilton and Sauternes with Roquefort are two traditional pairings you must try if you appreciate unusual cheeses. Delicious!
4. Sparkling wines pair wonderfully with delicate, creamy cheeses.
The high acidity and carbonation of sparkling wines provide a palate-cleansing effect when paired with rich, gooey cheeses such as Brie, Muenster, Camembert, Cremont, or Époisses de Bourgogne.
5. Wines and cheeses from the same region pair well with one another.
More often than not, it is wise to follow regional customs and pair wines and cheeses from the same region. Several excellent examples include Sauvignon Blanc with Goat Cheese (Loire Valley, France), Chardonnay with Époisses de Bourgogne (Burgundy, France), and Garnacha with Manchego (Spain).
6. When offering multiple wines and unsure of which cheese to match with each, a firm, nutty cheese is one of the safest and most popular options for all types of wine.
The cheese will be fatty enough to counteract the tannins in red wines, but delicate enough to complement white wines. A few examples include Swiss, Gruyère, Abbaye de Belloc, Comté Extra, Emmental, and Gouda.
Top Cheese and Wine Combinations
1. Cabernet Sauvignon with Sharp or Aged Cheddar
Cabernet Sauvignon is a diversified traditional grape, praised for its full-bodied and rich flavors and its lighter-bodied counterparts’ lower tannins. Dark fruits, such as plums, cherries, and blackberries, as well as warm spices, such as vanilla or licorice root, are the most common aromatic components in Cabernet Sauvignon.
The nutty flavor of aged cheddars grows more noticeable as the cheese ages. Its texture can be crumbly and abrasive enough to cut through even the toughest bread, but it can also be nearly buttery despite its salty flavor.
Aged Cheddar is a fantastic complement to tannic wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, as it helps to balance the bitterness of these astringent, dry reds and complements their powerful flavors.
2. Merlot and Gouda cheese
Merlot is a red wine variety that falls in the middle of the spectrum of red wines. This wine is tasty due to its moderate tannin, acidity, and alcohol content. Cherry, plum, or raspberry tastes with a dash of spiciness that leaves a smooth aftertaste on the tongue.
Gouda cheese is an aged cow’s milk cheese with a robust, savory taste. As it ages, undertones of butterscotch or caramel appear, and its texture turns crumbly like parmesan.
Gouda pairs well with numerous wines, from white to red. Merlot’s acidity level is comparable to that of Gouda, making it an ideal cheese and wine match. Additionally, Merlot would match well with Monterey Jack, Gruyere, and Herb Cheese.
3. Syrah and Roquefort
Syrah is a black, robust wine with a robust flavor. It is full-bodied and dry, without being sour or harsh, and very well balanced. This wine has elements of smoke, bacon, and violet flower, making it a great choice for any occasion!
Roquefort is a pungent, creamy blue-veined cheese with a distinctive aroma. Roquefort’s pungent flavor and strong metallic flavor are complemented by the sweet caramelization of sheep’s milk, which contributes to its distinctive aroma.
If you desire a more daring flavor profile with your reds, try pairing Syrah with Roquefort. The salty taste of Roquefort creates the ideal balance with the smoky and meaty aspect of Syrah. Additionally, aged cheeses such as gorgonzola and pecorino can be combined with Syrah.
4. Pinot Noir and Gruyere cheese
Pinot Noir is a delicious dry wine that is suitable for individuals who appreciate the nuances of fruit and berry flavors blended with wood. The tannins give them a sharply acidic flavor, making them ideal for warmer weather or as appetizers before dinner.
Gruyère is a softer, creamier Swiss cheese with a nutty flavor and a pleasing yellow hue.
Pinot Noir pairs wonderfully with nutty cheeses like Gruyere. The berry fruit in the full-bodied red wine complements this cheese’s flavor without dominating it. Both have exactly the right amount of scent and complexity to prevent monotony after one bite!
5. Champagne and Brie cheese
This prominent sparkling wine is often medium-bodied and ranges from dry to off-dry, with citrus and apple notes that are toasted. Due to Champagne’s frothy effervescence, many white wine and cheese pairings are done with just a few sips of Champagne.
The most notable of these is the pairing of this carbonated beverage and Brie. Due to the softer texture of triple-cream cheeses such as Brie, something sharp and acidic is required to cut through the fat. Champagne’s strong acidity and pleasantly stinging bubbles complement Brie’s rich creaminess to create a pleasurable mouthfeel.
6. Sauvignon Blanc and Goat cheese
Despite being earthy and sour, most goat cheeses are quite unadorned. Therefore, the citrus and mineral notes of a French Sauvignon Blanc can help to highlight the wonderful nuttiness and herbaceousness of the cheese. This red wine cheese combo is also an excellent way to cut through the richness of the goat cheese due to the wine’s acidity.
7. Moscato with Muenster cheeses or Pepper Jack
These white wine and cheese combinations are legendary and must be sampled at least once. Both of these cheeses have spicy qualities that complement the sweetness of the Moscato. Regarding the wine, it is an off-dry white wine with a light body that is renowned for its orange blossom and lemon zest notes, as well as its outstanding aromatic qualities.
8. Pinot Grigio and Mozzarella
The delicious flavors of Pinot Grigio include lime, pear, honeysuckle, and green apple. Pinot Grigios are less sweet than Chardonnays due to their higher acidity.
Mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese with an elastic consistency and a slightly sour flavor. As it ages, it becomes softer and its flavor becomes more delicate with hints of milk, resulting in excellent “meltability” in a variety of cuisines.
The acidic flavor of Pinot Grigio wine complements the mild and sweet flavors of soft cheeses, such as mozzarella, to provide a satisfying matching experience. Chevre pairs well with Pinot Grigio as well.
9. Viognier and Jarlsberg
Viognier is a delicate and sophisticated white wine with a light body. The flavor ranges from citrus sweetness to clove with honey undertones. Depending on the producer’s procedures, it may also include traces of vanilla cream or spritzy bitterness.
The texture of Jarlsberg cheese is both unique and intriguing. Though it begins soft, the flavor of its interior will definitely attract your attention: buttery richness with a hint of mild sweetness.
The nutty and sweet flavors of Jarlsberg cheese are a fantastic complement to the fruit-forward flavor profile of most Viognier wines, making Jarlsberg cheese an ideal accompaniment. Additionally, you should try matching Viognier with Gruyere.
10. Rose and Monterey Jack
Rosé is the ideal wine for the summer. It gives a refreshing alternative to the heavier red wines that are typically preferred throughout the winter months. Strawberries, raspberries, or cherries are typically found in the flavor profile of rosé. Nonetheless, there are numerous variants of this light-bodied beverage with diverse flavors to suit any inclination.
Monterey Jack cheese is the archetypal cheese of the American style and has existed for generations. It is mild, buttery, and tangy, making it appealing on its own or as a compliment.
Monterey Jack and Dry Rosé are a lovely pairing. The supple, mellow flavor of the cheese accentuates the delicate fruitiness of many Provence Rosés, while enhancing their crisp acidity.
How to Serve Cheese and Wine
There is an art to plating a gorgeous cheese plate that features cracker swirls, cheese slices, and fruit clusters. But if you’ve ever been overwhelmed, these experts weigh in on how to make the process flow (like a fine aged wine):
- Bread must be included on the dish. Werlin suggests providing pieces of plain bread rather than usual crackers. Werlin notes, “It is texturally softer and better for most cheeses.” In addition, a freshly sliced baguette gives a particular something to a romantic evening.
- Do not overlook the fruit. While cheese (and bread) may be the stars of your board, it’s also a good idea to include fresh fruits, such as grapes or apples, and dried fruits, such as dried apricots, dates, and figs.
- Have multiple cheese knives available. Provide a separate knife for each cheese to prevent flavor contamination. While this may require more cleanup, it is absolutely worth it for your taste buds in the long run.
- Invest in an aerator When serving wine, in addition to a bottle opener, an aerator is a useful equipment that enhances the flavor of the wine through a brief filtration process.
- Ensure that you have sufficient wine and cheese on hand. Estimate between one and two ounces of each variety of cheese per visitor. Estimate a half-bottle of wine per person; one bottle normally includes five glasses, and the average individual consumes approximately 2.5 glasses of wine per evening.
Wine and cheese is one of the most famous and memorable combos. The two have been combined for years to produce a sumptuous, luxurious experience that never fails to satisfy. From the first sip of red or white wine to the last mouthful of cheese, you will be completely content.