Wine and cheese. Is there a better combination? Each is delicious in its own right but put them together and you have a culinary delight. There’s no denying the perfect pairing of wine and cheese will have you running back for more, but how do you know what that magic combination is? Well, that’s complicated. You know that wines vary in body, sweetness, acidity, and tannins, and cheese varies in flavor, texture, fat content, and moisture content so there are endless combinations to explore. Feeling overwhelmed? Not to worry, we are going to break it down by cheese type to give you solid general direction and ensure your next cheese and wine pairing is a success.

Wine & Cheese Pairings For Beginners

  1. If you are strictly doing tastings, don’t jump around from red wines, to whites, to sparkling etc. you’ll completely throw off your taste buds. If you’re just at a party for fun, eat what you like.
  2. Don’t try multiple exotic cheeses in a row (truffle, sage derby, peppered) Your mind won’t know what’s going on with all the different flavors.
  3. Start with basic cheeses, nothing fancy so you can get an idea of what cheeses you like more over others. Start with a basic cheddar, swiss, brie, blue, gouda, goats milk, and a sheep’s milk cheese. Taste the cheeses by themselves. Between each cheese, take a sip of water so you can “reboot” the tasting sensors on your tongue.
  4. When tasting wines, always start with white wines and work your way into the reds. You’ll get a better sense of the differences in the wines as they get bolder in flavor.

Wine & Cheese Pairing Basics

We have bucketed different types of cheeses into different groups to help make suggestions on which wines will be best with them. Wine and cheese both have different characteristics based on the age, how its made, and the different ingredients. So it’s best to think of these different cheeses into these groups. Of course a charcuterie board may have several different cheeses, meats and other foods on the board together. In that scenario, it’s typically best to pick a wine that goes with most of the food on the board. Here are some specific recommendations for each type of cheese.

6 Wine & Cheese Pairings Everyone Should Try

Pairing 1– Parmigiano Reggiano and Laurent Perrier Champagne Pairing 2– Moliterno Truffle Cheese and Zardetto Zeta Prosecco Pairing 3– Balsamic Bellavitano and Tramin Chardonnay Pairing 4– Humboldt Fog and François Montand Demi-Sec Pairing 5– Cotija and Chocapalha Vinha Mãe Pairing 6– Raclette and Domain De Fontsainte Gris de Gris

Pairing Wine With Soft and Creamy Cheeses

Examples: Brie, Camembert, Burrata, Chèvre, Feta, and Ricotta Soft cheeses are rich and delectable, with unique flavors and aromas. They are generally mild in taste and have a creamy, buttery texture that melts in your mouth. Crisp whites, sparkling wines, and dry rosés are the perfect accompaniment to these cheeses. Riesling, Champagne, Gewürztraminer or Albariño are all great choices. We also like Beaujolais or Pinot Noir if you’re in the mood for a red wine.

Pairing Wine With Washed-Rind (Stinky) Cheeses

Examples: Taleggio, Limburger, Gruyère and Epoisses de Bourgogne (pronounced ee-PWASS duh boar-GOAN-yuh) Washed-Rind cheese can be identified by a red-orange rind, which may be moist or sticky, and an unpleasant aroma (think sweaty feet.) We know, nothing about that sounds good, but trust us the flavor is worth the stink. A bold cheese of this nature calls for a light-bodied wine with minimal aromatics. We recommend Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauternes and Gamay.

Pairing Wine With Hard-Aged Cheeses

Examples: Aged Cheddar, Parmigiana Reggiano, Pecorino, Manchego, and Asiago Hard cheeses are the result of aging and tend to be sharp in flavor and hard in texture. Savory, nutty, and often salty, the intensity of the flavor is determined by age. Well-aged cheeses will be more flavorful and more granular in texture. Hard cheeses prefer full-bodied whites and tannic reds. Sweet wines will also balance a salty cheese. You cannot go wrong with a Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Viognier, Nebbiolo, Zinfandel, and Sauternes.

Pairing Wine With Semi-Hard, Medium-Aged Cheeses

Examples: Monterey Jack, young Cheddar, Gouda, Gruyere, and Havarti Semi-hard cheeses will be dense and firm, but still a bit springy. This group of cheese is more approachable due to the fact they tend to be less funky in aroma and the flavors are savory, buttery, and nutty—not too tangy or salty. This cheese family calls for a medium-bodied white or fruity red. Pinot Blanc, Viognier, Champagne, Beaujolais, and Dolcetto all pair well with these cheeses.

Pairing Wine With Blue Cheese

Examples: Roquefort, Stilton, Bleu d’Auvergne, Gorgonzola, Cambozola Blue cheese is a semi-soft, crumbly cheese identified by its blue-green markings. Blue cheeses are bold, salty, and savory. Often pungent, they pack a distinctly sharp, piquant flavor, and let’s be honest, it is not for everyone. A wine with some sweetness is going to balance the audacious flavors of this cheese. We recommend Sauternes, Port, Riesling, or Vin Santo.

Pairing Wine With Goat Cheese

Examples: Le Chevrot, Verde Capra, Ticklemore, Bonne Bouche, Nababbo The texture of goat cheese can be soft, semisoft, firm, or hard, depending on the moisture content. Quality, fresh goat cheese should not be overlooked. It is moist and creamy with a clean, tangy, fresh flavor that sets it apart from cow’s milk cheese. The go-to wine for goat cheese is Sauvignon Blanc, but if you want to venture out, Chablis, Riesling, Rosé, and Albarino are all excellent choices. Think crisp and citrusy. You could also go with a young, unoaked fruity red, such as Beaujolais, if you are not feeling a white.

Pairing Wine With Charcuterie Boards

A charcuterie board is an excellent way to mix and match different flavors, textures and combinations of different foods and wines. If you are unsure which wine to choose, it’s best to pair it with a riesling, pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon. Those are popular wines to drink with food and are fairly flexible (riesling & pinot noir being much more flexible than cab).

Best Crackers To Eat With Cheese & Wine

The best crackers to use while tasting wine and cheese are those that have little to no flavor. Adding a flavored cracker may change the whole flavor profile of the wine cheese that you are tasting, nor will there be a lingering flavor in your mouth that may not make the tasting as enjoyable.
Red Wines Best Cheese
Pinot Noir Goat Brie and Fondue
Cabernet Sauvignon Mimolette Cheddar, Gorgonzola Dolce Piccante
Merlot Asiago D’allevo, Pecorino Romano
Malbec Beemster Gouda, Double Gloucester
Zinfandel Délice Bourgogne, Havarti
Chianti Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano
Tempranillo Manchego, Tres leches, Cotija
Sangiovese Gruyère, Fontina Val D’aosta, Taleggio
Petite Sirah Midnight Moon gouda, Aged Cheddar
Syrah/Shiraz Roquefort, Point Reyes Blue
Beaujolais Valdeon
White Wines Best Cheese
Chardonnay Camembert, Tête de Moine, Sage Derby
Riesling Garrotxa, Colby, Muenster
Sauvignon Blanc German Tilsit, Lacey, Edam
Pinot Grigio Humboldt Fog, Chevre
Moscato Pepper Jack, Saint Angel Brie
Chenin Blanc Double Gloucester, Huntsman, St Andre
Champagne Petite Basque, Parmigiano Reggiano
Prosecco Camembert, Moliterno Truffle cheese
Rose Mozzarella, Jarlseberg, Emantaller
Cheese Type Best Wines
Mild Blue Cheese Like Gorgonzola & Buttermilk Blue Bolder Reds Like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
Pungent Blue cheese Like Roquefort & Point Reyes Fruitier Wines Like Sauternes, Tawny Port, or Demi-Sec
Brie Cabernet Franc or Oaked Chardonnay
Goat Cheese Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Franc
Whereas Gjetost (Yea-tost) – Goat Cheese That Tastes Like Caramel Merlot or Portugieser
Camembert Gewurztraminer or Nussbaumer
Manchego Cava Brut or Viura
Gouda Chianti and Zinfandel
Burrata Pinot Grigio, or Gruner Veltliner
Gruyère Oaked Chardonnay, or a Sauvignon Blanc
Havarti Bordeaux
Cheddar Cabernet Sauvignon and Port
Pecorino Chianti
Asiago Cabernet, Unoaked Chardonnay, or Pinot Gris
Comté Sherry and Champagne
Taleggio Viognier, St. Emilion, or Roussanne
Port Salut Riesling and Gruner Veltliner
Mozzarella Young Chablis, Assyrtiko, or Albarino
Parmesan/Parmigiano Reggiano Champagne, Prosecco, and Brut
Humboldt Fog Demi-Sec or Pinot Grigio
Fontina Vouvray on Montepulciano
Merlot Bellavitano Shiraz, Pinot Noir, or Merlot
Balsamic Bellavitano Sherry, D’asti, and Chardonnay
Feta Assyrtiko, Vermentino, and Chenin Blanc
Raclette Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc
Fondue Beaujolais, Riesling, and Pinot Noir
Special thanks to Joel Beahn, the Cheese Man NJ for helping us write this article! For those that may want to ask questions about pairing cheese with wines, creating charcuterie boards, or need any recommendations on cheeses to try, please contact us and we’ll be happy to connect you with Joel!
Pairing Wine With Goat Cheese
with No Comments

Goat cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in the world, dating back 10,000 years to the domestication of goats, and popularized in the Loire Valley. It’s typically softer than cow’s milk, but has more fat, and the abundance of … Read More

Pairing Wine With Gjetost Cheese
with No Comments

Gjetost, pronounced “yay-toast”, is a Norwegian cheese and also goes by the name “brunost”, meaning “brown cheese” in Norwegian. This semi-firm cheese is made from goat and cow’s milk. It is known for its caramel color and sweet, butterscotch and … Read More

Pairing Wine With Blue Cheese
with No Comments

Blue Cheese is widely considered to be one of the most difficult foods to pair with wine. Whether it’s Roquefort, Stilton or Gorgonzola, every blue cheese comes with an extremely salty, pungent flavor that can easily overpower or clash with … Read More

Pairing Wine With Fondue
with No Comments

At its most basic level, fondue is a pot of warm, bubbly cheese in which pieces of bread, meat, or vegetables on skewers are dunked. This national dish of Switzerland consists of Emmental, also known as Swiss cheese outside of … Read More

Pairing Wine With Manchego
with No Comments

Hailing from the home of Don Quixote in La Mancha, Spain, Manchego is a semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese. The rind is inedible, but is easily identified by its herringbone pattern. The cheese itself has a subtly sweet and nutty flavor, … Read More

Pairing Wine With Gouda
with No Comments

Gouda, originating in the Netherlands, is one of the most popular cheeses in the world. It is a semi-hard cheese with a texture that is dense and springy, but can become crumbly with age. Gouda is soft yellow in color … Read More

Pairing Wine With Gorgonzola
with No Comments

Gorgonzola cheese hails from northern Italy, in the regions of Piedmont and Lombardy. Often referred to as a blue cheese due to its distinctive blue-green marbling, Gorgonzola is typically soft and crumbly in texture, and depending on its age, has … Read More

Pairing Wine With Brie
with No Comments

Originating in France and generally made from cow’s milk—and occasionally goat’s milk—Brie is a soft, deliciously creamy, buttery cheese with a soft, edible bloomy rind. The flavor is light and mellow, with notes of mushroom, nuts and warmed butter. Best … Read More

Pairing Wine With Charcuterie Boards
with No Comments

You have probably attended a party or event with a brilliantly bountiful Charcuterie board. If you are unfamiliar, you should be sure to add it to your ‘must-do’ list. A Charcuterie board is a delightful mix of savory, cured meats, … Read More