Cheese and Wine Matching
Cheese and wine. Two of life’s luxuries that go hand in hand. However when it comes to properly matching them together, it can be a minefield to navigate.
Firstly, cheese isn't just cheese. From a light and fresh Mozzarella, to a pungent Stilton, to a hard Gruyère, they all really differ in flavour intensity and texture. This means that each cheese will pair best with a particularly style of wine. Whilst many people think that Port or red wine offer the best cheese matches, often dry whites and sweet whites work much better. A perfect cheese and wine pairing is all about balance and being able to taste both the wine and the cheese without one overpowering the other. If a cheese brings out something new in the wine or vice versa, then even better!
To point you in the right direction, here are some simple guidelines to cheese and wine matching:
Match Intensity and Weight
When pairing food and wine together, an important rule is to match the intensity and weight of your wine with your food. The exact same goes for cheese too. Soft and lightly flavoured cheeses such as Mozzarella and Halloumi will in fact go best with a light white wine or Provence rosé. Slightly richer cheeses such as Brie will go well with a full-bodied white such as a Chardonnay or Viognier. For very aged or hard cheeses such as mature cheddar or Gruyère, then full-bodied whites would work too but also medium-bodied red such as Red Bordeaux or a mature Rioja. Generally the whiter and fresher the cheese, the whiter and crisper the wine. The darker and stronger the cheese, the darker and stronger the wine.
Salt Loves Sweet
Something that many cheeses shares in common is that they are fairly salty, particularly blue cheeses like Stilton. The combination of a salty cheese with a sweet wine can work absolute wonders and is one of the reasons people love drinking Port with cheese. The salt in the cheese enhances the perception of fruitiness and sweetness. Therefore blue cheeses such as Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Cambozola go well with sweet wines such as Sauternes, Barsac, Tokaji and Port.
Wines and cheeses from the same regions often make perfect pairings. For example, in the Loire Valley belongs the wine region of Sancerre making wine from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Around here, there are lots of goats and a famous cheese named ‘Crottin de Chavignol’ is made. Sancerre and this goats cheese go magically together because of their matching aromatic flavours and acidity.
Sparkling wine can work well with certain cheeses, by cutting through the creaminess. Rind cheeses such as Brie and Cambembert, as well as rich Triple Cream Cheeses are very buttery and are great matches with Champagne. The acidity in the Champagne and the bubbles cut through the mouth-coating richness and pairs nicely with the yeasty, toasty and buttery flavours of the wine.
- Stilton and Sauternes
- Camembert and Vintage Champagne
- Goats cheese and Sauvignon Blanc
- Manchego and Dry Amontillado Sherry
- Smoked Cheese and Alsace Gewürztraminer
- Aged Cheddar and Aged Bordeaux
What about if you have a cheeseboard with lots of different cheeses? Well on this occasion we think the best match would be slightly off-dry fruity wine such as an Alsace Gewürztraminer. The best way to find out if something goes together is to try it! Also don't forget that despite these guidelines, cheese and wine pairing is all about personal preference.