Wine and cheese are a legendary match, from ancient times until present days. Wine and cheese was a delight even for the Roman emperors’ thousands of years ago. Nowadays, you don’t have to be a Roman emperor or a senator to enjoy a good piece of cheese with an exceptional glass of wine. You don’t have to be even super-rich to do so as there are plenty of great wines that also happen to be decently priced.
Also, buying the most expensive wine and cheese on the market doesn’t mean you got the right combo. There are other, more important factors to take into consideration when trying to pair cheese and wine.
Here we will explain the most important factors that can help you pair wine and cheese.
Wine and Cheese Pairing 101
When it comes to cheese and wine pairing, there are endless opportunities. To simplify this, we need to start with the different types of cheese. Almost all cheeses fall in one of the following categories:
The cheese is made with sheep, goat, or cow milk. These are rindless and soft cheeses that are not made to be aged. Some of the most popular fresh cheeses are Mozzarella, Burrata, Stracchino, Feta, Ricotta, Chevre (goat cheese), Boursin, and Mascarpone.
Fresh cheese can be paired with both white and red wines. Some of the most notable wines that go best with white cheese are young Chardonnay, Verdejo, Vermentino, Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Arneis, and Muscadet.
If you are more fond of red wines, then you might consider Loire Cabernet, Zweigelt, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Valpolicella, and dry Rose.
These are creamy cheeses that have a spreadable texture. They got their name from the bloom of white mold. Some of the most notable bloomy cheeses are Camembert, Brie, Robiola, Chaource, Coeur du Neufchatel, and Crottin de Chavignol.
If you plan to pair them with white wines, you need to consider brut Champagne, Chablis, young Riesling, Vouvray, Marsanne & Roussanne, Gruner Veltliner, aged Semillon from the Hunter Valley, etc.
If you are more in favor of red wines, then the list is as follows: Mencia, Dolcetto, Gamay, Barbera, Cabernet Franc from the Loire, Bonarda, Zweigelt.
Washed Rind Cheese
These are creamy and rich cheeses that can be both semis-ft and soft. Compared to bloomy cheese, they tend to be somewhat funkier, featuring pleasant pungent notes. Some of the best-known Washed Cheese varieties are Taleggio, Fontina, Reblochon, Epoisses, Munster, Chaume, Langres, Livarot.
The best white wines that can be paired with Washed Rind are Gewurztraminer, Riesling from Eden Valley in Australia, Mature Semillon from Hunter Valley, Pinot Gris from Alsace, Franciacorta.
Those that are more into red wines might consider Trousseau from Jura, Pinot Noir, and Beaujolais Villages.
These are creamy cheese that does not break in shards as hard cheeses tend to do so. They are one of the best when it comes to melting and can be easily sliced. Some of the most notable cheeses in this category are Havarti, Edam, Gouda, Gruyère, Provolone, Morbier, Mimolette.
White wines that can be paired with semi-soft cheeses are Rioja, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. Those more in favor of red wines should look for young Bordeaux blends, St-Chinian, Côtes de Rhône, Chianti, Corbières, Mencía.
This type of cheese comes from aging. It’s really firm, and when broken, it crumbles. Most hard cheeses have savory notes and often are salty. Some of the best hard cheeses are cheddar, parmesan, Grana Padano, Cantal, Pecorino, Sbrinz, Manchego, Beaufort, and double Gloucester.
The best wines that can be paired with hard cheese are Franciacorta, Champagne, Palo Cortado, and Amontillado. On the other spectrum, red wines that can be paired with hard cheeses are Sangiovese, Bordeaux, Margaret River, Nebbiolo.
Blue veins run throughout these cheeses. They can be crumbly, semi-soft, creamy, or soft. Some of them are quite sweet, while others are milder. Their common nominators are their tang and sharpness. Some of the best-known blue cheeses are Cambozola, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Fourme d’Ambert, Cabrales.
Some of the best white wines that go great with blue cheese are Riesling Beerenauslese, Quarts de Chaume, Vin Santo, Recioto de Soave, Gewurztraminer Vendanges Tardives. In terms of red wines, our best recommendation specifically for a blue goats cheese is a Malbec. Since Malbec is a powerful wine, pairing Malbec with cheese is a skill in itself, but a wonderful one to master. Past that, you can look to Maury Banyuls, LBV Port, and Vintage Port for similarly bold flavors to help offset the strength of the blue.