Cheese and wine! Who doesn’t love this combination? Not all combinations of course, but cheese is considered to be a great and delicate food pairing when it comes to wine. A platter of different cheese choices is great for opening a party and it is still great when you just want to enjoy a glass of wine with a small company or even on your own. It is light for the stomach and when the pairing is successful, it helps us experience our beloved wine even more, as it is capable of bringing all of the special taste traits we can find in the wine we are drinking at the time.
But how do you choose the perfect cheese and more significantly how do you choose the perfect cheese for your wine?
Well, there are some tips that can help you make a good pairing of cheese for your wine and this is what we will check on today! Wanna see how? Well take your seat and start noting down people!
How about we check some basics to get things started, though?
Remember how we talked about making good wine and food combinations not that long ago?
The thing is that some, if not all, of these rules, still apply on choosing the perfect cheese for your wine.
This is a list of the rules that generally apply on wine and food pairing and especially on wine and cheese pairing
- The same the region of food, the same the region of wine
- Complement and Contrast techniques make a good recipe
- Sweet Wines make a good pair for Salty Food
- Tannins love Fat and Protein
Let’s take a quick look just to freshen them up…
The same the region of food, the same the region of wine
Try to keep in mind that according to the Regional rule, pairing a food and a wine from the same region will most likely make you, if not an excellent combination of taste, at least, a great one or a quite good one to remember and enjoy. It is one of the most basic and widely used rules when it comes to pairing food and wine, and still so when it comes to pairing cheese with wine. Want to see how that works? Choose French Cheese and pair it with French Wine, or Italian Cheese with Italian Wine and see how does that taste! I bet it tastes just as it should be! Great and delicious!
Complement and Contrast makes a good recipe
Remember the two basic techniques on pairing food and wine? The Complement technique, the long used one across history, according to which you can match flavors of the wine originally meant to match those of the food. This strategy stands on the basis that the flavors of the wine should complement the ones of the of the food and vice versa. On the other hand, we have the Contrast technique, a more modern technique, that started being used from the 1980’s. According to this technique, the food and wine, combine contrasting elements and traits to form a “whole combination” of characteristics. It is actually formed in terms of the rule that “opposites attract” if you wish to think of it that way! See where this is going? Now try to replace food in general, with cheese! In both cases, you will find those techniques very helpful and quite worthy of experimenting. It is, after all, a good way to expand your taste palate and set your personal wine profile!
Sweet Wines make a good pair for Salty Food
Aaaaa! I hope it doesn’t sound as weird as the first time you read about it! I certainly do hope, of course, you actually did take the chance and experimented a bit on that rule, cause you should know by now that it is a gold one! If not, well…, you will get your chance with cheese! You see the concept of that rule lies in terms of the contrast rule! The saltier the food, the sweeter the wine! And in that case, the saltier the cheese, the sweeter the wine! You guessed that right! And honestly? There is a great variety of salty cheese as there is for sweet wines. So, get on with it and try, and if you were hesitant to try that combination with food and maybe you thought you would waste your time, now it is as harmless as it can get! What’s the harm in trying a little bit of salty cheese with a little bit of sweet wine? We all have some of both more or less I suppose, so give it a try! Life is for the ones who dare! Or something like that anyway! (Don’t get fooled! I am still positive on moderate wine drinking). Moving on!
Tannins love Fat and Protein
Yes, I love that rule! Wines high in tannin level are a perfect match for fatty protein food! As we have already said before, tannins tend to absorb the proteins and tend to make our mouthfeel bitter! However, when they are matched with food high in protein, they tend to absorb the protein from the food accompanying our wine and cleanse our taste buds! The result in our taste? Absolutely wonderful! Do you want to use this rule for cheese? Absolutely yes! A perfect choice of a rule to choose just the perfect cheese for your wine! Give it a go!
Ok, so now that we have covered some of the basics about wine and food combinations, let’s get down to special rules about cheese and wine!
Rule No #1: The Age of Cheese Matters!
You see, just like wines, cheeses tend to get some extra traits and characteristics in their taste and texture as they get “older”. When they are young they have a higher content of water and they remind you more of the milk taste they were made from. Moreover, their texture is more delicate and they feel more “fresh”. However, when they get older, they tend to lose a lot of that initial water, they are drying in essence and therefore, more protein and fat is left behind. Their texture is harder and their taste is richer. Like older wines, they tend to acquire a completely different taste and flavor palate. So what do you do? You pair older cheese with older wine and fresh cheese with fresh wine.
Rule No #2: Think of the Fruit and Nuts to Choose the right Cheese
Well, that principle is based on the Complement technique and this is how. Isn’t there some point that when you taste a certain kind of cheese you get the feeling that a certain fruit or nut would be great to accompany your cheese? Well, it actually happened to me earlier this evening while I was eating a piece of cheese, I thought: hmmm… that would taste great with a piece of orange! I could literally feel the orange in my mouth! So, this is how you do it, you replace the fruit or nut that would naturally accompany your cheese with a wine that offers the taste of this fruit or nut and there you go! You’ve got yourself a nice cheese and wine combination! Easy right? Well, it is if you think of it that way! Go for it!
Rule No #3: Soft and Fresh Cheeses pair best with Sparkling Wines and Light or Aromatics White Wines
Yeap! It’s true! Soft and Fresh cheeses make excellent combinations with Sparkling wines, light bodied whites and aromatic white wines! Of course, they can be matched with light-bodied, low in tannins, red wines as well as with rosé wines but definitely NOT with full-bodied tannic red wines! Remember about No1 above? With fresh and soft cheeses you need light fresh wines! Would you like to have some examples of cheeses and wines to get a better grip? Well, here you go!
Rule No #4: Bold Wines Make a Great Combination With Bold Cheeses
Have you ever heard of how a Roquefort cheese is a good pairing for a Red Port wine? Or maybe about Sauternes and Gorgonzola cheese? Well, the above cheeses and wines, have some quite bold characteristics, nobody can deny that! And for that reason, if you try to match them with a wine or a cheese that is less bold, the “less bold” part of the equation will taste quite flat, offering you no particular mouthfeel at all. It will eventually be the same whether you eat or drink it anyway. So, if you try an edgy cheese with a “lighter” wine, the wine will taste flat and if you drink a bold wine with a “lighter” in taste cheese, the cheese will taste flat.
Therefore, try edgy combinations. Pair bold wine with bold cheese. You will find it to be an interesting pairing basis. By the way, would you care for some suggestions? Check the chart below to get a taste!
|Bold Cheeses||Bold Wines|
|Goat Cheddar||Syrah / Shiraz|
Rule No #5: White Wines match with almost any Cheese, except for Blue Cheese
We have often referred to the fact that white wines are less tannic than red wines due to their making process, right? Well, it is that feature of theirs that make them a much better and easier match for almost any kind of cheese. Blue cheese is the exception, though! Since blue cheese tends to be more intense in flavor and taste, it “undermines” in a way, the tastes and flavors of a white wine.
So, keep in mind, try any combination of white wine and cheese that might seem right and appealing to your palate and taste! Experiment all you want, as long as you keep an eye on white wine and blue cheese. Even better? Try to avoid it and match your wine with a different kind of cheese in order to get actually “understand” your wine’s taste.
Rule No #6: “Stinky” Cheeses call for Strong Aromatic Wines
It makes sense really, doesn’t it? I mean some stinky cheeses like Époisses, Munster and Taleggio, although they are delicious, they all need an aromatic wine to “cover” in some way their smell and complement them rather than contrasting them. Nobody likes an intense smell in their cheese unless it “eases” with a good wine. Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Red Burgundy are such wines, and they would pair beautifully with stinky cheeses.
So next time you have an aromatic wine to drink, take the chance and pair it with a “stinky” cheese! Trust me! It’s a worthwhile combination!
Rule No #7: Strong and Firm Cheeses Love Medium and Full-Bodied Red Wines
Strong and Firm cheeses can be paired sparkling wines, with full-bodied and aromatic white wines. However, if you wish to make an excellent pairing, try combining them with medium and full-bodied red wines. It is truly an absolutely tasteful combination. Aged Provolone, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino and Asiago belong to this category of cheeses, among others. Wines such as Red Bordeaux, Zinfandel, Barolo and Cabernet Sauvignon are some of the wines to accompany the aforementioned cheeses.
So, why don’t you give it a try and see for yourselves?
There are some basic rules of pairing wines and food in general that definitely apply when it comes to choosing the perfect cheese for your wine. And then again, there are some more specific rules that refer to wine and cheese only.
What you definitely need to do, is try all of them or at least as many of them as you can and see if I am right. Get your own personal opinion and see what suits your taste after all. Mix the above rules up and experiment all you need!
By the way, care for a special treat?
Here are some classic wine and cheese combinations…
- Champagne with Brie
- Ruby Port and Stilton
- Gewürztraminer and Munster
- Chianti and Aged Parmigiano Reggiano
- Riesling and Ricotta
- Merlot and Manchego
- Sauternes and Roquefort
Hope you’ve enjoyed it and that I have not left any important rule out in order for you to choose the perfect cheese for your wine! Again, if you think I have, I would be happy if you could share it in the comments…