A match made in heaven
Question from Jo: Should I buy the wine first, or the cheese?
In a nut shell: The best thing about pairing cheese and wine is that there is a cheese match for every wine and a wine match for every cheese so in short it doesn’t really matter. If you’re craving an oaky Chardonnay start with the wine but if you’re dying for a stinky blue let the cheese do the talkin’.
*disclaimer – please excuse the glass… I was desperate… I had cheese, I had wine, I had a water glass… it was better than nothing.
In a clam shell: There are a lot of grape varieties out there and a lot of cheeses too so where do you start when pairing cheese and wine? Thankfully, there are a few general rules you can follow to ensure the perfect match.
Rule 1: Regional matches can be fun and are always a good/safe place to start. Italian wine with Italian cheese (Chianti and Parmesan) or French wine with French cheese (Sancerre aka. Sauvignon Blanc and goat’s cheese from Loire).
Rule 2: Fresh, soft cheeses go fabulously with crisp acidic white wines (or light bodied red wines if you must drink a red).
Cheeses: Chèvre (aka. goat’s cheese), Feta, Brie, Camembert, Ricotta, Mozzarella
Wines: Riesling, Champagne, Cava (sparkling wine from Spain), unoaked Chardonnay, Chablis (unoaked Chardonnay from France), Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Beaujolais (a light French red wine made from Gamay grapes), Pinot Noir
Rule 3: Semi-hard cheeses that have been aged for a bit go fabulously with a medium bodied white wine or a light bodied red wine but it’s also worth mentioning that these cheeses comfortably pair with just about any wine – these delicious morsels are fail-safe!
Cheese: Gruyère, Jarlsberg, Cheddar, Manchego, Havarti
Wine: Chardonnay, Viognier, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Beaujolais (a light French red wine from Gamay grapes), Grenache
Rule 4: Hard aged cheeses work well paired with full bodied white wines or (even better) tannic red wines (tannic wines are those red wines that create that chalky feeling in your mouth after a swig, think Cabernet Sauvignon).
Cheeses: Aged Cheddar, aged Gruyère, aged Gouda, Pecorino, Manchego, Parmigiano Reggiano
Wines: Aged Chardonnay, vintage Champagne, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo (produced in northern Italy from Nebbiolo grapes), Barbaresco (produced in northern Italy from Nebbiolo grapes but grown in a richer soil which makes it more tannic than Barolo), Nebbiolo, Zinfandel (popular grape variety in California and Italy), Shiraz
Rule 5: Blue cheeses love a bit of sweetness to balance that bold, saltiness (but if sweet isn’t your thing you could also go for a tannic red wine).
Cheese: Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort
Wines: Port, Sauternes, Oloroso sherry, Muscat, Pedro Ximenez