Pairing Wine & Cheese
When you think about wine pairing, chances are good that cheese is one of the first things that come to mind. There are lots of great pairings to try, but of course there isn’t just one kind of wine or one kind of cheese. Cheeses vary in moisture and fat content, texture and flavor. Wines vary in acidity, sweetness, body, and tannin levels. Fortunately, a few basic guidelines will bring match-making success, from tried and true combinations to odd couples that compliment each other perfectly, bringing out the best in both.
Pair by Flavour Intensity
Cheeses vary from fresh through well- aged. As a cheese ages, the moisture in its body slowly evaporates, leaving behind concentrated fat and protein. Since fat and protein carry so much flavour, older cheeses tend to be more rich and savory. Age can also introduce new flavours to cheese, including the nutty, grassy, smoky flavours that make each cheese unique. Just like cheeses, wines also vary greatly. Young wines like Beaujolais or Sauvignon Blanc are fresh tasting, with bright flavors of berries, flowers, citrus, or spice. They pair well with fresh, vibrant cheeses like Chevre, ricotta, or mozzarella. Wines that have spent more time aging are more nuanced and smooth, with flavours of wood, toast, herbs, minerals, and savory notes. Big bold red wines like Cabernets or Merlots are a great match for rich, aged cheeses like Cheddar.
FLAVOUR INTENSITY PAIRINGS:
Try contrasting sweet and tart, or sweet and salty flavours; the contrast can make the combination seem greater than the sum of its parts. The bubbles in sparkling wines cut right through the richness of a buttery cheese, making Camembert and Champagne a classic combination. Sweet wines like Riesling beautifully balance the saltiest cheeses like hard Grana Padano, blue cheeses, or aged gouda, making the cheese seem more savory and the wine seem sweeter. Alternately, try pairing wines and cheeses with similar characteristics. Rich, creamy cheeses like Brie are great with buttery white wines like Chardonnay, creating a truly harmonious mouthfeel.
COMPLIMENT & CONTRAST PAIRINGS:
When you consider the overwhelming array of wines and cheeses available to try, the pairing options are truly endless. It might not be realistic to have 7 or 8 different wines on hand to get a perfect pair with each cheese. If you are choosing one wine, try pairing with an off-dry white wine like Riesling or Vouvray from the Loire Valley in France.