Pairing Wine With Cheese

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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 WinesBest Cheese
Pinot NoirGoat Brie and Fondue
Cabernet SauvignonMimolette Cheddar, Gorgonzola Dolce Piccante
MerlotAsiago D’allevo, Pecorino Romano
MalbecBeemster Gouda, Double Gloucester
ZinfandelDélice Bourgogne, Havarti
ChiantiParmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano
TempranilloManchego, Tres leches, Cotija
SangioveseGruyère, Fontina Val D’aosta, Taleggio
Petite SirahMidnight Moon gouda, Aged Cheddar
Syrah/ShirazRoquefort, Point Reyes Blue
White WinesBest Cheese
ChardonnayCamembert, Tête de Moine, Sage Derby
RieslingGarrotxa, Colby, Muenster
Sauvignon BlancGerman Tilsit, Lacey, Edam
Pinot GrigioHumboldt Fog, Chevre
MoscatoPepper Jack, Saint Angel Brie
Chenin BlancDouble Gloucester, Huntsman, St Andre
ChampagnePetite Basque, Parmigiano Reggiano
ProseccoCamembert, Moliterno Truffle cheese
RoseMozzarella, Jarlseberg, Emantaller
Cheese TypeBest Wines
Mild Blue Cheese Like Gorgonzola & Buttermilk BlueBolder Reds Like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
Pungent Blue cheese Like Roquefort & Point ReyesFruitier Wines Like Sauternes, Tawny Port, or Demi-Sec
BrieCabernet Franc or Oaked Chardonnay
Goat CheeseSauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Franc
Whereas Gjetost (Yea-tost) – Goat Cheese That Tastes Like CaramelMerlot or Portugieser
CamembertGewurztraminer or Nussbaumer
ManchegoCava Brut or Viura
GoudaChianti and Zinfandel
BurrataPinot Grigio, or Gruner Veltliner
GruyèreOaked Chardonnay, or a Sauvignon Blanc
CheddarCabernet Sauvignon and Port
AsiagoCabernet, Unoaked Chardonnay, or Pinot Gris
ComtéSherry and Champagne
TaleggioViognier, St. Emilion, or Roussanne
Port SalutRiesling and Gruner Veltliner
MozzarellaYoung Chablis, Assyrtiko, or Albarino
Parmesan/Parmigiano ReggianoChampagne, Prosecco, and Brut
Humboldt FogDemi-Sec or Pinot Grigio
FontinaVouvray on Montepulciano
Merlot BellavitanoShiraz, Pinot Noir, or Merlot
Balsamic BellavitanoSherry, D’asti, and Chardonnay
FetaAssyrtiko, Vermentino, and Chenin Blanc
RaclettePinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc
FondueBeaujolais, 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!

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