Cheese and wine share many commonalities, for instance they both go through a process of fermentation. Wine is fermented by the addition of yeast to grape juice and cheese is made by fermenting milk with bacteria, acid, and/or rennet. Wine and cheese are both affected by climate. The weather experienced will affect the taste of the final product. Both are excellent ways to experience terrior, to taste the area where the wine and cheese were made. Wine and cheese are both living and changing and affected by their environment.
Wine and cheese were created as a way to preserve grapes and milk. Both have been enjoyed together for centuries. Enjoying wine and cheese together can enhance the taste experience of both parties. Wine and cheese are more enjoyable when tasted together. Taste is subjective and there is no right or wrong way to enjoy wine and cheese but there are a few suggestions to help you enjoy wine and cheese together.
Balance is necessary when pairing wine and cheese. A sweet wine like a Port pairs well with a strong assertive blue like Stilton.
Cheese can follow the flavors and intensity of the wine you are drinking. An intense red can stand up to an intense cheese like aged Gouda.
If the wine is subtle, try a delicate cheese. You can also contrast flavors, try an earthy cheese with a fruity wine.
The more acidic your wine is, the higher the fat content of the cheese. The acid from the wine will help to cut the fat of the cheese. A rich creamy D’affinois is accentuated by Champagne.
When thinking about wine and cheese pairings you can take a trip to a destination. If you are interested in French wines, reach for French cheese. Wines and cheeses made in the same region will pair well together.
Young mild goat cheese, double or triple crèmes and bloomy rind cheeses pair well with light whites and sparkling wines.
Soft to semi firm mild cow’s milk, aged goat, and sheep’s milk cheese pair well with light red, rose, lager, and pilsner.
Stronger, bolder nuttier, harder, aged and mild washed rind cheese pair well with red wine, ales, and lambic.
Strong washed rind and blue cheese pair well with dessert wines, port, and stout beer.
Some cheese friendly white wines are: Albarino, Champagne, Gewurztraminer, Gruner Valtliner, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. Some cheese friendly red wines are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Dolcetto d’Albec, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo-Garnacha blends, and Zinfandel.
Some things to avoid when pairing wines and cheese are wines that are tannic and those that have strong oak flavors. A wine that is very tannic will overwhelm the taste buds that are used to enjoy the flavors of cheese. You want to enjoy a wine that has high fruit and low tannins. A light bright red will be better enjoyed with cheese rather than a wine that is heavy with tannins and oak.
Reds can overwhelm the palate. If you have to go red, try an old world red wine. Many argue that old world wines compliment food better than new world wines. A Rioja from Spain is very versatile and will pair well with many different foods. Enjoy wine and cheese together and feel free to experiment and try different combinations. Enjoy!