Everybody knows that cheese and wine are notorious partners in crime, and we love them for it. However, if you’re new to the cheese and wine game, it can be daunting trying to figure out how to pair them correctly. But fear not: our short guide will help make your first cheese and wine night a roaring success. We’ve broken things down into different cheese types, providing you with a fitting wine to complement each of them.
Some of the most popular hard cheeses include Cheddar, Parmigiano, Grana Padano, Gruyere and Emmental. Nutritionally, hard cheeses are rich in fat, protein and minerals such as calcium, sodium and phosphorus. They are the easiest cheese to pair with wine – a medium-bodied red such as a cabernet sauvignon or a rioja both make for enjoyable pairings for most people. However, cheddar and chardonnay also make a great team.
Soft cheeses range anywhere from the spreadable variety, such as Philadelphia, to semi-soft white rinded cheeses like Brie and Camenbert. Try them with fruity reds – a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais – or rose also works well.
The blue cheeses that you’re probably most familiar with include Stilton, Gorgonzola and Roquefort. When it comes to blue cheese, traditional pairings tend to be on the sweeter side, for instance, port with Stilton and Sauternes with Roquefort. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more unique, why not try sloe gin or sweet sherry? What’s more, blue cheese even pairs well with stouts.
Sauvignon blanc is the classic wine pairing for goats cheese, but you might also want to try a crisp dry Provencal rose or a fruity red like Beaujolais – both are perfect for a summer picnic.
You might know washed-rind cheese better by its other name: stinky cheese. Stinky cheeses – including Talegiio, Camenbert, Epoisses and Reblochon – tend to have a distinct pungency, so don’t get your hopes up about finding a fully complementary wine pairing. Surprisingly, a crisp white wine, or even a strong Belgian pale ale, tends to work better than a red.
Although not a cheese type in its own right, melted cheese classics – like fondue or Raclette – are deserving of an honourable mention. They aren’t particularly easy to pair, but crisp or aromatic white wines from the region where these dishes are popular are a safe bet. For example, fondue can work fine with Muscadet or Chablis.
Feel that your favourite wine hasn’t been represented so far? Here’s how to pair ten of the most popular wine varieties:
- Pinot Noir: Brie and Camenbert
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bordeaux: Cheddar, Gouda and hard cheeses
- Rioja: Sheep cheeses like Manchego
- Rhone and southern French reds: keep it local with a French cheese board
- Chianti: Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino
- Port: Blue cheeses
- Sauvignon Blanc: Goats cheese, Feta, cheeses with herbs
- Chardonnay: Buttery cheddars
- Pinot Grigio: Mozzarella and other mild Italian cheeses
- Champagne and sparkling wines: Vacherin Mont d’or or Chaource
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