10 Tips for Pairing Wine And Cheese

Anish Patel @ 2021-12-16 12:55:46 -0800

10 Tips for Pairing Wine And Cheese


Pairing wine and cheese can be intimidating at first, but it’s the best way to learn about wine and food combinations. 

Think about it: so many dishes have cheese or salty, nutty flavors—tons of them have all three! The world of cheese offers so many different flavors and textures that can help you learn plenty about the wine you’re drinking just by tasting them together. 

The best way to learn is by doing. And the best place to begin? Your kitchen! To start learning which cheeses go with which wines, you need to taste them together and ask yourself the most important question—Do I like this?

Taste, just like beauty, is subjective. Some wines will appeal to you; others won’t. The same goes for cheeses. You may love soft, creamy cheeses but be repulsed by stinky cheeses. Still, one thing is for sure. Once you start exploring the connections between cheese and wine, your relationship with both will change forever. 

What Is the Science of Food and Wine Pairings?

The relationship between food and wine has been a research topic for some time. Wine has several characterizing elements: acidity, tannin, body, alcohol content, sweetness, and flavor profile. All of these factors are either enhanced, uncovered, or muddled by the food you eat.

By that same token, cheese is made up of many flavors and textures that change how wine is perceived on the palate—sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. It’s important to know a thing or two about which pairings work together and what to avoid. 

How Do I Practice Tasting Cheese and Wine?

Start your journey into wine and cheese pairings by learning how food influences the taste of wine. Remember, practice makes perfect. Here’s how to do it:

1. Pour yourself two glasses of wine: one white and one red. If you don’t know which wines to pick, try a Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet Sauvignon, but any two will do!

2. Choose a few different types of cheese to experiment with.

3. Take a sip of your white wine by itself. Which features do you notice? You might taste that the wine is tart, juicy, sour, bright, drying, acid, or sweet. 

4. Now, choose your softest or mildest cheese. Take a bite! 

5. Once you’ve swallowed your cheese, take a sip of the wine again. 

6. Ask yourself: Does this taste good? Did the bite of cheese change the flavor or mouthfeel of the wine? If it did, was it for better or worse?

7. Now, repeat this process with your red wine. Don’t forget to start with a sip of red wine by itself. 

8. Move through each cheese this way, paying attention to what tastes good, what doesn’t, and why.

Wine and Cheese: 4 Rules To Live and Drink By

While this wine and cheese tasting experiment is fun, it takes time to understand what goes well together. If time is of the essence or you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing charcuterie, here are some age-old food pairing rules that won’t steer you wrong. 

Rule #1: White wine goes better with cheese. 

If you’re flying blind in the grocery store and need a bottle ASAP, it’s safer to choose a white wine. White wine has more acidity than most red wines, and acidity is very important when blending with creamy foods like cheeses. Red wine also has higher tannins, making it a little trickier to pair with foods. 

If you need to get a bottle of red wine, pair lighter reds with soft cheeses and big, bold reds with hard cheeses.

Rule #2: Sweet wine and stinky cheese is a match made in heaven.

If you haven’t tried blue cheese with wine that is either sweet or off-dry, put this pairing at the top of your grocery list. This sweet wine perfectly offsets the salty flavors of blue cheese. 

Rule #3: What grows together goes together.

When in doubt, think geographically. Got some Spanish cheese? Go with an Albariño or a Garnacha. And Italian cheese won’t be let down by Pinot Grigio, Dolcetto, or Barolo. 

Rule #4: The creamier the cheese, the higher the wine acidity.

Creamy cheese makes a wine taste less acidic. Choose a wine known for its searingly high acidity, and you’ll bring out some interesting flavors you wouldn’t otherwise taste. 

Any sparkling wine is sure to be a winner, but you’ll find that Chenin Blanc, Chablis, Pinot Noir, and Beaujolais will vibe perfectly with your creamy spreadables. 

What Are Classic Wine and Cheese Pairings That Won’t Let You Down?

Want to get your cheese plate just right? You’ll need to consider the firmness of your cheese as well as its flavors. Is your cheese smoked? Herbal? Truffled? There’s a wine for that. 

Here are your best flavor pairings, broken down by cheese type. 

Hard Cheese

Hard cheese is aged longer than soft or semi-soft variations. Over time, cheese loses its moisture and firms up. Some are flaky, some are crumbly, and all are fairly dry. 

Types of hard cheese: Cheddar, Gouda, Calvander, Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, Romano.

The best wines for hard cheeses are full-bodied reds with structure, like:

-Cabernet Sauvignon 
-Cabernet Franc 

    Semi-soft Cheese

    Semi-soft cheese is smooth and creamy but firm enough that it won’t spread as easily as soft cheese. Some are mild, while others are full of flavor. 

    Types of semi-soft cheese: Havarti, Bellavitano, Burrata, Provolone, Fontina, Brick, Munster.

    The best wines for semi-soft cheeses are bold red wines, medium-bodied reds, or white wines with medium to high acidities, like:

    -Côtes du Rhône
    -Pinot Blanc

      Soft Cheese

      Soft cheese is young and full of moisture. This makes it soft, creamy, and easy to spread on a cracker. 

      Types of soft cheese: Brie, Camambert, Gorgonzola, Burrata, Goat, Mozzarella, Boursault, Feta.

      The best wines for soft cheeses are any bottles with high acidity and low tannins, but especially whites and sparkling wines, including:

      -Pinot Noir
      -Chenin Blanc
      -Vinho Verde

        Blue Cheese

        Blue cheese is made with cultures of the mold Penicillium, and you can’t miss its unmistakable look and smell. Blocks of this cheese have blue or gray veins running through them, and they taste salty, tangy, and pungent. Blue cheeses tend to be soft and crumbly. 

        Types of blue cheese: Gorgonzola, Stilton, Roquefort, Danablu.

        The best wines for blue cheeses are off-dry or sweet. Off-dry refers to a dry wine with residual sugar that gives it a sweet note. Try wines like:


          Cheese With Herbs

          Many cheeses are made with fresh herbs, resulting in a delicious savory profile.

          The best wines for cheeses with herbs are bottles with herbaceous notes like bell pepper, asparagus, thyme, or fennel. Try wines like:

          -Sauvignon Blanc
          -Grüner Veltliner
          -Chianti Classico
          -Cabernet Franc

            Smoked Cheese

            Smoked cheeses give off a smoky note that you can often find reflected in wine.

            The best wines for smoked cheeses are red wines with smokey or peppery notes. Try bottles like:

            -Bourgogne Rouge

              Cheese and wine are meant to be. 

              Now you know everything you need to create a cohesive wine and cheese menu. 

              If you want to try something outside of the box, try our Tinto de Verano in a can. It will pair perfectly with grilled cheese, fried cheese bites, croquettas, or even a fresh burrata salad. 


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