A timeless marriage, it’s the stuff everyone from gourmands to girls’ nights, book clubs to game-watching get-togethers turns to for the entertaining win.
In the wine and cheese tastings we lead for clients, there are always a few things that stand out as game changers to our guests.
The first revelation is that, with the right pairing, cheese can enhance the flavour and structure of a wine: light wines that were mouthwateringly acidic on their own, become softer and more approachable with a creamy cheese. Oaked wines that were spiced with vanilla and toffee are complimented by nutty cheeses. And wines that were tannic and powerful are tamed with salty, full flavoured cheese. The second discovery for our clients is that wines they had never liked before, suddenly become enjoyable when paired with the right food.
To make the most of both your cheese and your wine, there’s a few things you want to consider.
Just like you wouldn’t pair a delicate white fish with a tannic Cabernet, light, creamy cheeses like will be decimated by bold reds. Instead, save those big reds for weighty, full flavoured cheeses like Cheddar, Parmigiano or Manchego.
If you’re hankering for a delicate, creamy cheese like St. André, Delice de Bourgogne or triple creme Brie, light white wines with brighter acid make better pairings, so reach for a Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or lightly oaked Chardonnay.
Cheese with lots of flavour, like pungent blues or salty cheeses such as France’s Ossau-Iraty or the melted delight Raclette, can handle, or even require, ripe red wines with opulent textures and fruity richness.
Meanwhile, young cheeses like mild, creamy Burrata are better paired to neutral Pinot Grigio, or lighter styled sparkling wines and Champagnes.
And cheeses with nutty or butterscotch flavours, like Gruyère, Beamster or Mimolette can work with wines that compliment those flavours such as amontillado Sherry, or buttery, oaked aged Chardonnay.
When in doubt, stick with white wines with firmer acid such as Soave, Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or sparkling wine. The mouthwatering effect of the acid will help cleanse the palate of the most coating creamy texture of the cheese. The salt in the cheese (no matter if it’s light or heavy) will boost the fruity flavours of the wine.
Of course in the wonderful world of wine nothing is ever a total slam dunk, though blue cheese is really the only pairing we can think of that wouldn’t benefit from a white wine, but it is a pretty solid general rule.
Based on what we know to be popular with our clients we’ve matched wines to their cheese counterparts. You’ll notice some pairings repeat so you can mix and match with ease for your next party. But if you would like a little extra help, just drop us a line.
Amarone (Italian full bodied red, verging on sweet) – Gorgonzola, Cheddar, Stilton, Piave
Cabernet Sauvignon (Full bodied, tannic red) – Aged Manchego, Asiago, Taleggio, Stilton, Parmigiano
Chardonnay (oaked) (Full bodied, rich and creamy) – Beamster, Mimolette, Gruyère, Raclette, Manchego, Tomme de Savoie
Chardonnay (unoaked) (Medium bodied, steely and crisp)- Fresh goat’s cheese, Grey Owl, Delice de Bourgogne, St. André
Malbec (Ripe, fruity and smooth)- Comte, Gruyère, Manchego, Taleggio, Cashel Blue
Pinot Grigio (Light bodied, neutral and fresh)- Pecorino Toscano, Ricotta, Burata, St. André, Delice de Bourgogne, Tomme de Savoie
Prosecco (Italian, lightly fruity sparkling wine) – Cashel Blue, Gorgonzola, Mimolette, Parmigiano, Delice de Bourgogne, Feta
Pinot Noir (Light to full bodied, fruity and earthy) – Gruyère, Comte, Chèvre, St. Andre, Lancashire, Pecorino di Tartufo, Tomme de Savoie
Sauvignon Blanc (Light bodied, fresh and herbal) – Fresh goat’s cheese, Chèvre, Grey Owl, Pecorino Toscano
Shiraz (Full bodied, spice and dark fruit flavours) – Cheddar, Gouda, Gruyère, Ossau-Iraty, Manchego, Asiago