Pairing Wine with Cheese
At some point on your road to maturity, you’ll have to hold a wine and cheese evening. It’s not an intuitive thing and getting the pairings right can fill you with anxiety. It’s a good job, then, that there are six easy rules to follow to get it just right.
Match the intensity of the cheese and wine
This is the #1 rule, as you don’t want either the wine or the cheese to be overwhelmed by the other. So, if you’re serving a delicate cheese for example, pair it with an equally delicate wine.
Generally, stronger wines – more than 14.5% ABV – are suited to stringer-flavored cheeses and less intense wines – 12% ABV and under – are best with lighter cheese.
Bolder reds work well with aged cheeses
Cheese loses water as it ages, so the flavors intensify and become richer. This makes it ideal for assertive reds as the fat content in the cheese works against (in a good way) the tannins. You need cheeses that have been aged for a year or more – Cheddar, Manchego, Grana Padano and Provolone, for example.
Sweeter wines are a dream with smelly cheeses
Wines like Moscato, Port, Late Harvest and other dessert wines go well with smellier, “higher” cheeses, like blue cheeses. The sweetness reduces the almost-but-not-quite offensive tastes in the cheese and the stinky nature brings out the sweetness of the wine.
The classics, if you’re playing it safe, are Port and Stilton and Sauternes with Roquefort.
You must pair sparkling wines with cream cheeses
On a much lighter note, you’ll find the high acidity and fizz of a sparkling wine the perfect counterpoint to the rich creaminess of a Brie, a Camembert or a Cremont.
Pair up wines and cheeses from the same regions
They’ll have the same terroir, after all! Plus, the locals know what works together and they’ll send their wares out far and wide. There’s Sauvignon Blanc and goat cheese, Garnacha with Manchego – just look around for inspiration.
If you’re stuck, get firm and nutty…
If you have a wine that you’re not sure what to do with, then pair it up with a firm, nutty-flavored cheese. This sort of cheese will have the fat to balance out the tannins in a bold red, and a delicate enough flavour so that it doesn’t overwhelm a delicate white. Try Gouda, Emmental or Gruyère.