Cheese and Wine

Finding a great match of cheese and wine is an art and also science, and a fun thing to do.    Many of our customers are intimidated trying to pick the right cheese for their wine. Although there are some sensible pairing principles that we should pay attention to, there are no hard and fast rules. Cheese and wine pairing can be essentially a matter of personal preference. As I mentioned, while there are no rules, I hope this article may help you with some guidelines so you can enjoy your pairing and experimenting.

The goal of a successful pairing is to make the cheese and wine both taste good on their own, and taste even better when consumed together. Pairing principles such as contrast of sweet and salty, similarity of floral, grassy or fruity, bubbly wine and creamy cheese are the same as pairing cinnamon roll with rich morning coffee, salted sweet butter on grilled corn on the cob, roasted meats with bold Cabernet Sauvignon, or fresh crisp lettuce and grilled peach salad with pinot grigio. You may not realize that you actually are making decisions in food pairing several times a day.

Principles of Similarity, Contrast and Compliment.

Choose wines and cheeses that are similar or different. For example, choose spicy cheeses and spicy wines, fruity tasting cheeses and fruity wines or salty cheeses and sweet wines, fatty cheeses and acidic wines.

 

Similar intensity.

The delicate flavors of Pecorino Medoro will be overwhelmed by a bold California Cabernet Sauvignon, but should be perfectly balanced when paired with Chianti. Pecorino Medoro is Italian cheese that has rich but mild taste profile.

As cheese ages, it becomes richer in flavor with its increased fat content. These two qualities are ideal for matching bold red wines because the fat content in the cheese neutralizes the high-tannins in the wine. For the best results, you may want to select cheeses that have been aged at least a year or more, including aged Cheddar, Gouda, Alpine style such as Challerhocker which is aged almost 2 years. At Reverie we stock a wonderful 7 and 8 year cheddar as well as 5 year Gouda.

Contrast.

Sweeter wines like Port, Cream Sherry, Moscato, Gewürztraminer, Late Harvest dessert wines, nicely match with blue cheeses or even stinky cheeses. The sweetness in the wine helps balance the “funk” in the cheese and makes it taste creamier. Also, the “stink” of the cheese will help balance the sweet taste of the wine.

Port with Stilton and Sauternes with Roquefort are classic examples of this pairing.

 

Sparkling wines have high acidity and bubbles, which is a palate cleanser for creamy and fatty cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Triple Crème varieties.

Regional Pairings.

A few great examples of this include Sauvignon Blanc with Goat Cheese (Loire Valley, France), Chardonnay from Burgundy with Époisses de Bourgogne or Delice de Bourgogne, and Garnacha with Manchego (Spain). Pecorino Peppato with Sangiovese (Italy), New York Dry Riesling with Tom of Reverie Creamery (New York), Gewürztraminer with Black Garlic Chevre (New York)

 

Here are some basic pairings for Cheeses and Wines.

Fresh       

  • Ricotta, Mozzarella, Burrata – Pinot Grigio
  • Chevre/Goat Cheese, Black Garlic Chevre – Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Voignier

Soft Bloomy Rind                                  

  • Camembert, Triple Crème – Champagne, Cava, Prosecco
  • Aged Goat Cheese – Chardonnay

Hard Cheeses

  • Tomme Style – Dry Riesling, Zinfandel
  • Medium aged Gouda – Merlot
  • Aged Gouda and Cheddar – Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Parmesan, Pecorino, Grana Padano – Chianti, Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino,
  • Gruyere, Comte – Pinot Noir
  • Manchego, Ossau Iraty – Garnacha, Côtes du Rhône

Blue.

  • Stilton, Gorgonzola – Port
  • Roquefort – Sauternes
  • Cambozola – Ice Wine
  • Tallegio – Vin Santo

 

Generally, pairing with red wines can be tricky. One must avoid big, tannic red wines as more often than not, they will overpower the cheese. Sometime there is an affinity of this big tannic red with super stinky cheeses. If you have any doubt, talk to your local wine expert or cheesemonger at your local wine and cheese local shops.

By Riko at Reverie Creamery

Published at The Lakeside Ledger November 22, 2017