Wine and cheese are two of life’s great culinary pleasures, and finding the perfect match can be a delicious endeavor. As with any wine and food pairing, there are a number of considerations, such as texture, acidity, fat and tannin. Rather than complicating the topic with exotic matches like Garrotxa and Meursault, we have broken the art of wine and cheese pairing down, so you can create your own.
Wine and Cheese Pairings
The wine-cheese pairing possibilities are endless, but to simplify the strategy, we can divide cheese into four major categories:
Bloomy: Creamy, decadent cheeses, with a soft rind.
Hard: Stiff cheeses, which are often sharp and/or salty. They can also be aged.
Blue: Pungent, often salty cheeses, with a blue tinge.
Fresh: Soft, often spreadable cheeses that can be tangy or mild. They are not usually aged.
If you have a specific cheese in mind, first contemplate the category it belongs to. You can then consult our wine and cheese pairing examples for ideas.
Just as with any food pairing, it helps to think of either complementary or contrasting flavors. A lush wine works well with a triple-cream cheese, while an acidic wine will cut the cheese’s sweetness. As you begin to experiment, taste the cheese first by itself, to get a sense of its character, and then put another bite into your mouth with some wine to see how they mingle. Many experts say that white tends to pair better with cheese, but a light-bodied red and cheese pairing is still possible.
Wine and Cheese Pairing Examples:
Robiola: Sparkling Wine
Taleggio: Pinot Blanc
Cheddar: Cabernet Sauvignon
Double Gloucester: Zinfandel
Gruyere: Sauvignon Blanc
Ricotta: Pinot Grigio
Mozzarella: Sauvignon Blanc
Goat: Chenin Blanc
Burrata Tocai: Friulano
Preparing a Wine and Cheese Party
What better way to taste a variety of pairings then to throw a wine and cheese party? Purchase a few different cheeses from a cheese shop or gourmet store with a well-equipped storage facility. Discuss your plans with the cheesemonger and ask for recommendations. You can get creative with cheese place cards or purchase a nifty slate cheese tray, which allow you to etch cheese names in chalk. Lastly, be sure to serve the wine and cheese at their proper temperatures, so their flavors can emerge. Serve white wine at 45°F, red wine at 60°F and remove the cheese from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes prior to serving.
Wine and Cheese Party Menu
A great wine and cheese party offers pairing selections with varied flavor profiles. Display the options in a circle and have your guests start with lighter wines and fresher cheeses and move clockwise toward the ones that have sharpness and depth. To simplify, you could also choose a flexible wine that pairs with a wide range of cheeses. A lean red, such as Gamay or Pinot Noir, could serve as a perfect starting point. Your guests can taste that wine with each cheese and then rank the pairings.