Cheese and Wine Pairings

cheese and wine pairingsCheese and Wine Pairings

By Mark Adams

Mark is a professional winemaker, former winery owner, author and frequent speaker on wine.  He currently teaches wine classes throughout the United States.

Let’s match some cheese and wine pairings. Who doesn’t like wine and cheese? Life if good, huh!

Well here’s something for remembering how to match cheese and wine.

The darker the wine, the harder the cheese.

The darker the wine, the harder the cheese.

Let’s start with wines first.  We already know that some red wines are lighter and some are darker.

For instance Pinot Noir is lighter, Chianti or merlot are darker and Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are even darker still.

One thing that is very different from chocolate pairings is that while white wines are not well suited for chocolate, they are an excellent match for cheeses.

With white wines instead of the color, lets concentrate on some of the characteristics of the varieties. That will help you make better matches with different cheeses.

If you recall from our wine and food pairing post, all there is to wine and food pairing is similar foods with similar wines.

Pinot Grigio for instance has more of an acidic finish, right? We know that acidity brings out flavor, especially in baked or broiled seafood and chicken.

So that’s use that same logic and realize that pinot grigio would be a great match for bland cheeses like swiss or provolone.

Chardonnay is usually oaked and because of this has a little bit of a nutty flavor. That nut flavor pairs well with any cheese that could be enhanced by salt.

An excellent choice here might be a Parmesan or Asiago cheese. By the way, salted almonds will add a tremendous amount of flavor if you include them on the plate.

Reisling typically, but not always is a little sweeter than most wines. So by now, I presume you’re a little ahead of me here. Sweet wine go well with flavored foods.

How about a flavored cheese, maybe like Gouda? In addition, any type of candied or sugar coated nuts or fruit would be the perfect compliment

With reds, again the darker the wine, the harder the cheese. There’s no need to go into a lot of detail here.

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Lets talk about cheeses.

When I say the how soft or hard the cheese, think of a cheese like brie as the softest of cheeses and then a squishy cheese like swiss, then maybe a cheddar as a semi hard cheese and then finally a parmesan type cheese as the hardest.

Compare your favorite cheeses using this guide at the bottom of the page and you’ll have pretty good idea what wine to pair.

Here’s a couple of tips that will help make your cheese taste better. We all know that the temperature of your wine makes a big difference in how you wine tastes. Cheese is no different. I think most of us eat cheese to cold, usually right out of the refrigerator.

Actually cheese is best at room temperature. Let the cheese sit on the counter about 30-45 minutes before serving and you’ll be fine.

Thin slices always give you a better taste than thick slices.

Cubes or chunks may look nice and be easy to prepare, but it’s worth the effort to thinly slice the cheese.

Like with wine, people have different tastes when it comes to cheese. If you are having a party don’t assume that your perfect pairing of wine is cheese is your guest’s perfect match.

People tend to pick the cheese off the tray depending on what cheese they recognize, rather than if it goes with their wine.

So as the host or hostess, it would be helpful to label the cheese or you could even put a card on the table to say something like try this cheese with…..

Again don’t worry about it.

The fun of wine and cheese pairing is the mixing and matching of different cheeses and trying new things.

Instead of worrying too much, I have made a guide for you to make it really easy.

Wine Cheese

Riesling – Gouda

Chardonnay –  Asiago

Pinot Noir – Brie

Cabernet Sauvignon – Cheddar

Zinfandel – Parmesan

Shiraz – Sharp cheddar

Remember shiraz is a spicy wine, so a spicy cheese like Monterey Jack or even a jalapeno cheese would be an excellent choice.

This chart is not an absolute. They final pairing really depends on what type of cheeses you like and what variety of wine you like.

Remember, the fun is to experiment to find your perfect pairing. So we salute the power of cheese

Enjoy your cheese and wine pairings

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