A Beginner’s Guide to Pairing Wine and Cheese
For the wine connoisseur, pairing food with various wines is a skill that takes years to perfect. But why not try one of the classic pairings, wine, and cheese?
To successfully pair wine and cheese, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
- First, consider the flavors of the cheese: whether it’s mild, intense, sweet, or salty.
- Then think about the type of wine you want to pair it with: red or white, light or bold.
- Finally, look for complementary notes in each, such as fruits or spices that tie them together, to create an experience that’s pleasing to your palate.
The most important thing is to have fun and experiment until you find combinations you love.
Creating a successful pairing of wine and cheese involves finding the right balance of flavor. Here is a beginner’s guide on how to get started.
What Type of Cheese Works Best?
When it comes to pairing wine and cheese, there are no hard and fast rules, but there are some basics you should know. Finding the right balance of flavor is key.
For a successful pairing, you want to choose wines that can stand up to the strength of the cheese without being overwhelmed.
Generally, softer cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, or goat cheese are best paired with lighter wines such as Riesling or Pinot Grigio. Hard cheeses like cheddar or Gruyere pair nicely with medium-bodied wines like Pinot Noir or Merlot. For an even richer experience, try matching your favorite blue cheese with a sweet dessert wine such as Port or Sauternes.
What Are The Perfect Combinations?
The best combinations depend mainly on personal preference, but here are some classic combinations to get you started:
01. Brie – Chardonnay
Brie and Chardonnay is a classic combination that brings out the creamy flavors of the cheese and complements them with the buttery notes in the wine. Together, they create a smooth and luxurious flavor experience that is full-bodied yet subtle at the same time. A glass of Chardonnay is an ideal companion to a creamy Brie served at room temperature. Add crackers or some fresh fruit to bring even more complexity to this timeless pairing.
02. Cheddar – Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red wine that pairs wonderfully with sharp cheddar. The robust, tannic nature of the wine complements the bold and nutty flavors in the cheese, creating a unique depth of flavor. To enhance this combination, look for crackers that have a bit of sweetness to them, such as wheat or honey graham crackers. For a more savory take on the pairing, add some fruit preserves or thinly sliced apples to your serving plate for an extra layer of flavor.
03. Soft Goat Cheese – Sauvignon Blanc
Soft goat cheese is a creamy, mild variety of cheese that pairs beautifully with Sauvignon Blanc. The grassy and citrusy notes in the wine bring out the subtle flavors in the cheese while adding a light and refreshing touch to it. Serve the cheese at room temperature with some crackers or sliced apples if you’d like. This classic combination is perfect for summer days spent relaxing outdoors.
04. Gruyere – Champagne/Sparkling Wine
Gruyere cheese and Champagne/Sparkling Wine make for an exquisite pairing. The nutty, earthy flavors of the cheese match the light and effervescent nature of the wine perfectly. For an added layer of flavor, serve the combination with some diced apples and hazelnuts, or a swirl of honey on top. Whether served as part of an appetizer platter or simply with one another, this timeless combination is sure to delight friends and family at your next gathering.
Essential Tips for Pairing Wine and Cheese
In addition to choosing the right type of wine for your favorite cheese, there are other tips you should keep in mind when pairing wine and cheese:
- Balance the flavors: If the cheese has strong flavors, opt for a wine that can balance it out without being overwhelmed. For example, mild soft cheese pairs well with full-bodied reds like Malbec or Shiraz while sharper aged cheeses can stand up better against richer whites like Chardonnay or Viognier.
- Create contrast: Just like when pairing food and wine don’t be afraid to find opposites that create interesting flavors together. For example, pair creamy cheeses with acidic whites or sweet dessert wines with salty blue cheeses. Experimenting is key!
- Serve at proper temperatures: Your choice of temperature will affect both the flavor of the wine and the texture of the cheese so make sure each component is served at its ideal temperature which usually means serving white wines chilled and red at room temperature. * Experiment with different types of crackers: Crackers can help bring out the flavor of both your cheese and your chosen wine so be sure to include them in your tasting sessions! Try experimenting with different types such as sesame seed crackers for a little extra crunch or multigrain crackers for an earthier flavor profile.
If you’re looking to try something a little different, there are plenty of other wines and cheeses to experiment with. From Brie and Chardonnay to Gouda and Cabernet Sauvignon, the possibilities for delicious pairings are nearly endless. To get started, take your time exploring the world of wines and cheeses that interest you and find flavors that excite your palate. With a bit of experimentation (and maybe a few wrong turns), you’ll be able to create some truly unique and memorable combinations.
With just a few simple tips, you can explore the rich world of pairings and create indulgent experiences for yourself and your guests. So why not give these classic pairings a try?