By Leia Sharma
When enjoyed together, wine and cheese make for a mouthwatering pairing. In this guide, we will break down the major categories of cheeses and discuss how to choose a wine to ensure the most delectable combination. When deciding how to mix and match wine with cheese, consider the following: texture, fat, acidity, and tannin.
Bloomy cheeses are creamy and decadent with a soft rind such as Camembert, Brie, Robiola and Taleggio. For these cheeses, pick a sparkling wine such as Champagne, Crémant, Cava, or Sparkling Wine. Sparkling wines have high acidity and carbonation so they cleanse the palate of the sticky, creamy cheese. Try pairing Pinot Noir with Brie.
Hard cheeses are stiff, often with sharp and/ or salty flavours. Hard cheeses include Gouda, Parmesan, Cheddar, Pecorino, Gruyère, Double Gloucester, and Fontina. The perfect match for these cheeses is a bold red wine, especially if the cheese is an aged variety, such as Parmesan. When cheese is aged, it loses water content and the fat content increases, making it richer in flavour. The high fat content of these cheeses is balanced by the high tannins in bold red wine. Some wine choices to pair with hard, aged cheese include Montepulciano, Dolcetto, Chianti and Sangiovese. A must-try combination is Cabernet with aged Gouda: the tannic, full-bodied wine compliments the nuttiness of the cheese.
Salty, pungent cheeses with a blue tinge fall into this category. Blue cheeses include Gorgonzola, Stilton, and Cambozola. Since these cheeses come with an olfactory warning (yes, they are often stinky), the best wines to pair them with are sweet dessert wines such as Port and Moscato. Two absolutely classic pairings are Port and Stilton as well as Sauternes with Rocquefort.
The last category of cheeses is fresh cheese, such as Mozzarella, Goat, Feta, Burrata, and Ricotta. For these, you can pair wines with cheeses from the same region; for example, Goat’s cheese goes well with Sauvignon Blanc, which are both from the Loire Valley in France. A light Greek wine will pair well with the saltiness of Greek Feta. You can also match fresh cheeses with tangy, acidic wines. Ricotta is sweet and creamy and goes well with the tangy flavour of Reisling. The soft sweetness of mozzarella pairs delectably with the acidity of Pinot Grigio.
FOOLPROOF CHEESE CHOICES
If you are serving several different wines at your party, or are still unsure which cheese to purchase, opt for a firm, nutty cheese such as Emmental, Gouda, Swiss, or Gruyère. These cheeses are fatty enough to counterbalance the tannin in red wine, but are also subtle enough to pair well with delicate white wines.
Serving wine and cheese at the correct temperature is important to ensure that their best flavours emerge. White wine should be served at 8ºC-12ºC and red wine 12ºC-18ºC. Cheese should be removed from the refrigerator 30-60 minutes before serving.
So, for the perfecting pairing, remember:
- pair sweet wines with salty cheeses;
- robust tannic red wines with aged, rich cheeses;
- and what grows together goes together – match your wine and cheese by region.