The marriage of wine and cheese is a food relationship we are all thankful for (along with peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, hamburgers and fries etc.). A study published in Journal of Food Science showed that people actually perceive wine as tasting better when consuming it with cheese. These delicacies have many similarities in the variances between styles and types: textures, densities, and tastes – wet, dry, bitter or sweet. Both are unique to their maker and, while the sky’s the limit, it can be helpful to follow some loose guidelines for pairing the right bottle of wine with the right cheese to create an indulgent experience. Check out a couple of wine and cheese pairing tips we’ve picked up along the way.
Tip #1 Taste the wine first.
Before you begin your combination adventure, try the wine. For those who don’t know already know their favorite wine, pick a bottle (hopefully recommended by your local wine store), take a sip, think about what you’re tasting – note about the flavor, smell, and texture. Sure you could pick any cheese, but think about your favorites and how a particular cheese could make this wine even better.
Tip #2 Pair funky cheese with sweet wines.
Sweet wines like Moscato and other desert wines pair perfectly with smelly and bold cheeses. The sweetness of the wine helps to balance out the “funky” smell in cheese and the smelly cheese helps to balance out the sweetness in the wine. Opposites attract!
Tip #3 Aged cheese pairs best with bold reds.
As cheese ages, the flavor becomes richer due to the fat content increasing over time. Aged cheese pairs well with bold reds because the high fat content counterbalances the high tannins in the wine.
Tip #4 Feeling overwhelmed? Go with a nutty cheese.
Sometimes we’re stumped with choices for pairing wine and cheese – be it unfamiliarity with both or simply facing too many options to choose from. When it doubt, it is always safe to go for a firm nutty cheese like brie, swiss, or cheddar. Nutty cheeses pair well with both reds and whites and they’re delicate enough to have the fat content that counterbalances high tannins.
Some other great wine and cheese combinations that you may not have known:
- Pinot Grigio & Mozzarella
- Sauvignon Blanc & Goat Cheese
- Chardonnay & Gruyere
- Riesling & Ricotta
Pairing different wines and cheeses should be fun and not daunting, at the end of the day you’re indulging in one of the greatest food relationships known to man. Be adventurous, creative, and find a style that works best for you. Have a favorite wine and cheese combination that we didn’t mention? Let us know!
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.