Matching Cheese & Wine

If you are like me, trying to remember which cheeses go with which wines is virtually impossible. Even when you swear that the next time you go to your favourite restaurant and have the cheese course with matching wines you’ll remember them inevitably, you forget and are forced to try and come up with something that resembles a match at your next dinner party.  And even for me I can often find cheese and wine pairing to  be tricky, with some pairings heightening the experience of both the wine and cheese and others simply clashing.


Well don’t despair !  I have now developed a foolproof, easy to read, guide for just for this situation.


So here are some easy tips to help you next time you are looking to pair wine and cheese together:

Salty With Sweet


Salty cheeses go really well  with sweet wines. For example, if you are serving a blue cheese like  roquefort or stilton or even a washed rind cheese then pair it with a sweet wine such as a port or a sweet sherry. The balancing out of the sweet and salty tastes make for a great flavouring for the palate.  In fact, if you think about it, this is exactly why Thai curries work so well with the sweetness of palm sugar and the saltiness of the fish sauce.

Region  with Region

Another easy tip is to try to pair wines and cheeses from the same region. For example, if you are serving a Spanish cheese such as Manchego ( of course Grandvewe’s La Mancha would be the standout here!! but I’m not biased of course!) , serve them with a Spanish wine, such as a Tempranillo. This is one of the easiest methods of quick pairing as the wines and cheeses are often sorted and labelled by the nation of their origin.


Acid and Acid -Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc with Chevre


While initially this may seem like the opposite of the earlier suggestion, many favour the taste of acid combined with acid. For example, a wine such as Sauvignon Blanc goes beautifully with an acidic cheese such as a goat cheese. You will find that many wine descriptions will reference whether the flavour is acidic, helping you to quickly select when you are shopping.


Here is an example of pairing a wine with its local cheeses. Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc are both white grapes indigenous to the Loire Valley in France. Sauvignon Blanc makes up wines such as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé while Chenin Blanc is found in Vouvray and Savennières, amongst others. The classic cheeses for pairing these intense white wines are the local Loire Valley goat cheeses (chèvre) produced throughout the region. The rich and earthy flavors of the chèvre stand up beautifully to the bright and mineral-imbued flavours of the wines.  So if you are going for a regional theme you can go for a Loire Valley theme.  A great conversation piece is to ask your guests to guess the region! This always makes for a lively discussion.


Tannic Flavours with Creamy Cheeses


While this may be a little more challenging to remember when shopping, many prefer the tastes of tannic flavoured wines and creamy cheeses. For example, you may consider pairing a brie or a triple cream cheese with a Bordeaux wine or any other bold, dry red wine. You will find a large selection of both the wine type and the cheese type in most retail groceries.


Bubbles with Rich and Creamy


Finally, something that seems to make sense; rich things together. Champagne and many other sparkling wines tend to be intense with high acidity. This bright, intense flavour pairs well with creamy, rich cheeses. The acidity cuts through the rich, creaminess of the cheese beautifully. Classic cheeses like Brie and Camembert work really well or any other similar cheese that catches your attention on the cheese aisle.


Stinky Cheeses with Stinky Wines


Washed rinds come to mind here. When ripe they can be quite stinky, with a pungent, rich, meaty, creamy and salty flavour. Only wines which are equally pungent, complex, earthy and rich can stand up to such a cheese. Aged Burgundys  can often take on stinky, undergrowth, earth, mushroom and meat-like aromas and flavours. The pairing of these aromatic meaty, earthy wines with the pungent cheese can be sublime. Other wines can work as well. Look for rich wines with earthy flavours. Some examples that can work include Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Bandol.


Piedmontese Wines with Truffle Cheeses


Wines from Piedmont, particularly those made from the Nebbiolo grape, can have a distinct earthy, white truffle aroma. In fact, white truffles, those famed and expensive fungi, are found in the same region! Is it any mistake that the wines accompany those earthy truffle aromas beautifully? Local cheeses, like Boschetto al Tartufo, often incorporate bits of truffle and pair beautifully with the local wines from Barolo, Barbaresco and even some richer Barberas. However Grandvewe has its own version in the Porcini Pecorinos that we produce. ( We still have some of our aged Goat Porcini Pecorino in the cellar)


Well I hope that this guide helps you next time you serve a cheese platter.


Keep being ewenique


Diane Rae

Master Cheesemaker

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