In order for a wine and cheese pairing to be successful, you have to perfectly marry the texture, the degree of acidity, the flavor (obviously), and the fat content of the cheese to the flavor profile of the wine. To get it wrong is to destroy the enjoyment of the cheese, not to mention wasting a perfectly good bottle of wine. Food and wine pairing is truly an art form, which is why a truly exceptional sommeliers a rare and precious thing.
It can be an intimidating feat, but there’s no reason to panic and run to the nearest sommelier class (although, why not, that could be fun!). There’s also no need to wander the wine aisles of the supermarket like a lost puppy in search of its owner. There are certain wine and cheese pairings that are foolproof, time-tested, and guaranteed to impress your guests and enhance your cheese plate.
1. Chevres or “goat cheeses”
Goat cheeses have a very acidic flavor and fresh aroma, and have a great richness to them with creamy, velvety texture, like Crottin, Caprifeuille and Bucherondin. Red wines tend to be to rich and complex, overwhelming the palate. The best way to go is with whites, especially, crisp, fruity and light wines that cut through the richness of the cheese, balancing it out, letting you refresh the palate for the next bite.
The classic pairing: Sancerre and Chenin Blanc.
You can also try: Pinot Grigio, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
Try: Goat Cheese Selection
2. Brie & Camembert
Brie has become a staple on the cheese plate, beloved for it’s creamy and velvety texture, and a mild flavor that pleases all palates. It’s also extremely versatile, as this soft cheese can pair wonderfully with light and medium-bodied red wines with lots of fruitiness to it, or with a bright, sparkling bubbly.
3. Stilton & Gorgonzola
Blue cheese can vary wildly, from creamy to crumbly, to rich and dense, so we chose one of the most representative for the cheese plate, English Stilton. Its intensity and pungency – characteristic of all blue-veined cheese – not to mention its rich and buttery texture, makes Stilton the perfect match for sweet Port. A Portuguese fortified red wine, Port is extremely sweet and very robust, which why its used as a dessert or after-dinner wine. The sweetness balances out the saltiness of the Stilton, and it’s robustness stands out to the richness of the cheese.
Classic pairing: Ruby Port.
You can also try: Sauternes, a classic sweet white wine from Bordeaux.
This is a tricky pairing, as the flavor of cheddar changes with age. Most of the more widely palate-friendly cheddars are in the medium range, so let’s take those ones as our example. Cheddar’s most distinctive characteristic is its sharpness, which makes it hard to match with wine, and makes it more suited for a strong, yeasty Ale. Another great match? Apple! Most specifically, sweet and strong apple cider.
Classic pairing: Beer or Apple Cider.
But you can also try: Chardonnay – a light and fruity white wine.
5. Sheep Cheese
Ewe’s milk is tangy and nutty, and generally richer than cow’s milk. Sheep’s milk cheese can vary wildly in flavor and texture, as you can have for example a creamy and buttery Brebicet, a crumbly and dry Pecorino Romano, or a Spanish Manchego, firm and buttery cheese with herbaceous notes. They all pair well with different wines, so rather than give you one global wine pairing, we’ll give you three, suitable to each type of sheep’s milk cheese.
Creamy Sheep’s Milk Cheese Classic Pairing: Chenin Blanc.
Dry and Crumbly: Cabernet Sauvignon.
Buttery and Firm: dry Sherry.
If you want to experiment a little bit, try the old adage “if it grows together, it goes together”. There’s a good chance a cheese from a particular geographic area, will go well with a wine from the same region. For example: Crottin de Chavignol chevre from the Loire Valley pairs wonderfully with Vouvray, a delicious white wine from the same region of the Loire, made of the Chenin Blanc grape.
It’s always good to rely on the classics, and the cheese and wine pairings above you can always fall back upon!