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Food & Wine Pairing - Cheese

Simple rules to get started pairing food and wine...

Wine and Cheese is a glorious combination...

Pairing Wine with Cheese

Quick Guide – To make your life easier when pairing cheese with wine, choose from the range:

Bold Red Wine and Cheese

Wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Zinfandel match up well with equally intense cheeses. Match them with a cheese that’s firm and a bit salty, perhaps with tyrosine crystals. You’ll best enjoy the cheese in small bite-sized pieces over grilled bread. Cabernet Sauvignon does well with aged cheddars and peppery cheeses.

Light Red Wine and Cheese

Light red wines like Pinot Noir and Beaujolais match up nicely with delicately flavored, washed-rind cheeses and nutty, medium-firm cheeses. Gruyere is a great example of nutty cheese, and Taleggio is a semi-soft, washed-rind cheese that is not overly intense. If you enjoy a softer style, try a soft-ripened cheese like Brie or Camembert.

White Wine and Cheese

White wines typically match with a much wider array of cheeses than reds. This is because white wines have no tannin, making it much easier to match them together. If there’s one cheese that doesn’t match up too well with many white wines, it would be blue cheese. It tends to overwhelm. 

Dessert Wine Cheese Pairings

Europeans still serve the cheese course at the end of the meal (even after dessert). Perhaps there’s a method to this madness, because it’s one of the most inspired pairings known to cheese. Even the most pungent blue cheese transforms when matched with a vintage port.

Port Wine Cheese Pairings

Port wine wants you to savour life’s sweetest moments. Offering an array of flavours – from ripe berries and figs to raisins and toasted almonds – Port appreciates the finer things, so you’ll want to be deliberate when pairing Port wine and cheese. Your choice of cheese has a lot to do with the style of port you’re drinking.

  • For tawny ports, salty, dry hard cheeses like aged Gouda, Gruyere, Romano, Cheddar, and Parmesan balance the mellow, rich, and nutty flavours of the wine.
  • Vintage ports need a powerful cheese that can hold its own against the strength of this remarkable wine. A creamy blue cheese like Gorgonzola, or an extra sharp Cheddar can match the chocolate, spice, and fruit in the wine.
  • The dryer taste of white port pairs well with Gruyere, while a traditional LBV port matches up nicely with an aged Parmesan or classic blue. And the sweetness of a young ruby port is perfectly balanced by the savoury notes of a blue cheese.
  1. A Soft rich cheese requires a wine with some structure.
  2. Without structure the richness of the cheese combined with the richness of the wine would taste very ‘flabby’ together in the mouth.
  3. Brie and Chevre are looking for wines such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio.
  4. If red wine is more to your liking why not try a Pinot Noir.
  5. Good acidity, little oak, and low tannins are the key. Choose a mature, creamy Chardonnay for a creamy Brie, a mature Cabernet Merlot or ripe Pinot Noir to accompany a fairly ripe Camembert or Chaumes.
  6. Once again Sauvignon Blanc is a winner here. If you aren’t a huge Sauvignon fan try a good Chenin Blanc.
  7. Crémant, Champagne or English Sparkling are also a good match made in heaven!
  1. Blue Cheese is dessert wine territory. Sweet + Salty = Good
    Stilton with Port.
  2. Gorgonzola and Roquefort work well with Sauternes.
  3. Wonderful with Port, but explosive with a rich Cabernet Sauvignon – one of life’s great pleasures!
  4. The classics are Roquefort with a sweet wine – botrytised Semillon – and Stilton with either a vintage or tawny port.
  5. A light and fruity Shiraz which is low in tannins or a full-flavoured Sauvignon Blanc are OK with mild creamy blues, but try them with other blue cheeses too.
  6. Fortified red wines are also a very good bet.
  1. Harder fuller flavoured cheeses require fuller flavoured wines.
  2. Amarone is a perfect partner for the highly flavoured, complex tastes of Parmigiano Reggiano, other hard, flavoured cheeses would go well with a full, tannic wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Vino de Montepulciano.
  3. A huge range of cheeses and ones that work well with white and red wines. Choose fairly, full bodied, mature fruity or savoury reds with softened oak/tannins – including Cabernet Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, smooth Shiraz Grenache blends , or a mellow Shiraz – to partner mature farmhouse Cheddar, Gloucester, Gouda, well as the pungent Parmesan and similar Spanish cheeses.
  4. Rich full blown Chardonnay, is delicious with some mature Cheddar and Parmesan.
  5. Try a spicy Shiraz with Double Gloucester!
  6. Fortified wines such as Sherry are a winner here, a well-suited match.
  1. Dry, structured whites are a good option, particularly for softer creamier styles.
  2. Sparkling wines are definitely worth a punt.
  3. Fruit-laden reds will also complement this type of cheese, especially when regionally paired.
  1. We’re talking soft, mild cheeses that are enjoyed young and fresh! Super squidgy and completely rindless, these tangy, salty cheeses are popular in salads such as feta and goat cheese. 
  2. Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir or ripe Merlot all partner soft, creamy goats cheeses.
  3. Choose restrained Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc blends with warm goat’s cheese salad.
  4. The sharp flavour of Feta is good with a stunning and aromatic Riesling.
  5. Serve a full blown mature Shiraz with pungent Manchego and similar cheeses.
  6. Pinot Grigio and Mozzarella is a classic example of this, especially if you’re eating a Margherita pizza.
Go from a humble cheese lover to a verified cheese connoisseur.

A Guide to Different Types of Cheese

Mozzarella: Although not creamy or soft, it’s best consumed quickly after production for a sweet, grassy creaminess and semi-soft texture.

Burrata: A mozzarella exterior gives way to a luscious, milky center of mozzarella scraps mixed with cream.

Chèvre (goat): This spreadable, crumbly cheese has a pleasant tang and a rich, dense texture.

Feta: Brine-cured feta is tangy and assertive in its saltiness. It should have a foundation of creamy and nutty flavors to back up its salt.
Ricotta: This was born of thrift: Italian cheese makers didn’t want to waste whey from hard-cheese production, so they’d add it to milk. The result is sweet, creamy and mild.
Other fresh cheeses: Mascarpone, Stracchino, Boursin, very young Selles sur Cher
Brie: Ultra-creamy and buttery, with hints of fresh field mushroom.
Camembert: Very creamy, but with more concentrated earthy flavors and pungency with age.
Robiola: Often made with a mix of cow, sheep and goat milks, it’s mild and luscious, marked by tang and saltiness.
Other bloomy cheeses: Chaource, Coeur du Neufchatel (both cow), Crottin de Chavignol (goat)
Fontina: Rules dictate when cows can be milked for this cheese, which ensures enough creaminess to balance its funk.
Epoisses: Despite a funky odor, this soft, rich cheese scoops like warm butter and has a delicious, tangy flavor.
Reblochon: This raw-milk cheese has to be aged in cellars or caves in France’s Savoy Mountains. This provides a grassy, herbal tinge that complements its richness.
Taleggio: One of the milder washed-rind cheeses. It has a dense, sticky texture, gentle yeast and grassy notes.
Other washed-rind cheeses: Langres, Chaume, Livarot, Munster, Vacherin de Mont d’Or
Gruyère: Often seen melted atop French onion soup, it’s delicate, and offers notes of hazelnut and brown butter.
Gouda: This offers mild, nutty flavors with a bit of tang, along with a rich, dense texture.
Havarti: Creamy and buttery, it gets sharper and earthier with a bit of age.
Other semi-soft cheeses: Provolone, Edam, Morbier, Mimolette
Cheddar: It’s bold and nutty, with a hint of sweetness. It gets crumbly, sharper and salty with age.
Double Gloucester: Colored orange by annatto seeds, this has apricot and grass notes.
Parmesan: This gets better with age, as its grassy, nutty and salty flavors intensify.
Pecorino: Made from sheep milk, this has pronounced gamy flavors and tang, balanced by brown butter notes.
Other hard cheeses: Manchego, Grana Padano, Beaufort, Cantal, Emmenthal, Sbrinz, Comté
Cambozola: Born in Germany, this combines Italian Gorgonzola with the French method of making a triple-crème cheese for an exceptionally mild, creamy delight.
Danish Blue: Semi-soft and with a good deal of creaminess, this is one of the more pungent options. It delivers a sharp funk from beginning to end.
Gorgonzola: Depending on age, this can be semi-soft or firm and crumbly. It possesses a sweet nuttiness and pronounced saltiness to balance out its funk.
Roquefort: The culture used to produce this sheep-milk cheese is used in blues throughout the world. It’s a strong, salty cheese with a sharp bite and crumbly, semi-soft texture.
Stilton: Dense and almost fudgy in texture, it has a distinct peppery sharpness in addition to the standard blue funk.
Other blue cheeses: Fourme d’Ambert, Bleu d’Auvergne, Cabrales
Raclette and baked Camembert
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