Wine and cheese go hand in hand, and are some of the greatest culinary pleasures. There are endless varieties of cheeses that can be paired with endless varieties of wines. Here is the ultimate guide to understanding what type of cheeses can be paired with what sort of wines.
- Fresh cheese: Goat’s cheese, Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Burrata are all varieties of fresh cheese. These cheeses pair with wines that are light and fresh. White wines like Pinot Grigio, a Soave from Italy, a light fresh Sauvignon Blanc, or even an unoaked Chardonnay are paired well with any of the above cheeses. These cheeses also pair with a variety of red wines, including Pinot Noir, or a Beaujolais or a Valpolicella. All of these wines are lovely, young, light, fruity and they would work really well with fresh, soft cheeses.
- Soft creamy cheese: These are the cheeses that we are most familiar with, like Brie or Camembert. They are full of fat, are creamy, and mouth-coating. So, the wines that would pair with them should be crisp, dry, and have high acidity. So, here's a good time to uncork a bottle of Champagne, or a bottle of Chablis; and if you want more variety from France, then pair the cheese with a bottle of Sancerre which is made from Sauvignon Blanc grape variety from the Loire Valley. The red wines that can be paired with soft creamy cheese are the juicy, succulent reds like Barbera and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Italy.
- Semi-hard cheese: Next is the semi-hard cheese such as the Gouda, Gruyere, and Edam. These are mild to taste, and do not crumble or fall apart. The white wines that can be paired with these cheeses need to have a little bit of body, little bit of flavour, and a little bit of character. So, an oaked Chardonnay from California, or a Marsanne-Roussanne Blend from the Rhone region of France would do wonders. A Viognier, also from France, which is fuller and richer, can also be paired with a Gouda, Gruyere, and Edam. From the red wines that can be paired, one should consider the savoury, earthy or rustic variety of wines. A perfect example would be a Chianti Classico from Italy, from the Tuscany region, or Cote du Rhone, again from France’s Rhone region would work well with semi-hard cheeses.
- Hard cheese: And then, of course, there is hard cheese. These are again the varieties that we're familiar with like Cheddar or Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano. These cheeses tend to be drier, so they're not as creamy, and are a bit tangy, and sometimes even nutty. They possess complex flavours. Hence, needless to mention, the wines that can be paired with hard cheese should be full flavoured, robust, and full bodied. A variety of full robust red wines would work with these hard crumbly cheeses, for instance a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Barolo. And if you absolutely must have a white wine with these cheeses, then it is time to get out your vintage Champagne. Also, a fortified white wine like an Amontillado Sherry or a Fino Sherry pairs well with hard cheese.
- Blue cheese: Finally, blue cheese. Gorgonzola, Stilton, and Roquefort varieties of cheeses, because they are funky, pungent, many wine consumers would like to offset that with a little bit of sweetness. So, wines that are high in residual sugar in the reds will go well with blue cheese. A port wine is the perfect choice! Even in white wines, a sweet Riesling from Germany, like a Trockenbeerenauslese or a Sauternes from France or a Tokaji from Hungary are wonderful for pairing.
So the next time you host a wine and cheese night, you can put out your pairings like a pro.
Originally published April 28, 2022