Pairing Wines With Cheese

Pairing Wines with Cheese

When you consider pairing wines with cheeses, do you imagine pairing a white wine or a red wine? Depending on the wine’s style, both can work. Our guide to pairing wines with cheese will elevate your next cheese board to another level!

White Wine and Cheese Pairings

Many wine and cheese lovers pair their cheese boards with red wines. But surprisingly, white wine is actually a much better partner for many types of cheese. (Just ask Master of Wine Mary Gorman-McAdams: her article “Why You Should (Almost) Always Pair Cheese with White Wine” lays out an excellent defense of white wine/cheese combo!)

Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wine cleanses the palate, so it’s a perfect pairing with creamier cheeses, such as camembert and brie. These cheeses fall under the category of “bloomy” cheeses, which are cheeses that have an edible white mold. Bloomy cheeses are rich, creamy, and easily spread; the interior can have a strong flavor or funk. In addition to brie and camembert, examples of bloomy cheeses include Chaource, Pierre Rober, Brillat Savarin, and Mt. Tam.

Suggested Wine Pairings

Pinot Grigio/Light Wine Wines

Pair lighter white wines such as Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, and Albarino with light cheeses, such as cream cheese, mozzarella, goat cheese, mascarpone, and ricotta. The flavors and consistency of the wine and the cheese complement one another beautifully

Suggested Wine Pairings

Riesling

What style of Riesling you are drinking will determine which cheese will pair best: after all, a dry riesling will have very different characteristics than a sweet riesling. Pair a dry Riesling with a washed rind cheese like fontina or taleggio. Washed rind cheeses are bathed in brine, beer, or wine (which makes the rind orange). The cheese’s texture will range from soft/semi-soft to hard, and the cheese is often rich, creamy, and a little more “gamy” or pungent than a bloomy cheese.

Pair a sweet Riesling with a bleu cheese, such as creamy Gorgonzola or crumbly Roquefort. The sweetness of the riesling pairs perfectly with the tanginess and sharpness of the cheese.

Chardonnay

As with Rieslings, the style of Chardonnay will determine the best cheese pairing. A lighter Chardonnay with little oak presence (typically an “Old World” style Chardonnay) pairs well with bloomy cheeses, such as camembert and brie, while a bold, full-bodied Chardonnay (typically a “New World” style Chardonnay) will stand up to stronger cheeses such as harder washed-rind Gruyere.

Suggested Wine Pairings

Red Wine and Cheese Pairings

When pairing red wines with cheese, you should in most cases consider a fortified wine or a lighter red wine. However, there are some hard cheeses that stand up against the boldness of red wines.

Pinot Noir

A light Pinot Noir can pair well with a bloomy cheese without overpowering it, while a Pinot Noir with a little more depth can hold up against washed-rind cheese. Bloomy cheeses sometimes have a mushroom or truffle quality which can pair well with the mushroom and forest floor aromas often present in Pinor Noir.

Suggested Wine Pairings

Syrah/Shiraz

A French-style Syrah or Rhone blend is an excellent pairing with stronger washed-rind cheeses, such as Gruyere, Gouda, or Havarti. Consider that Syrah also pairs well with herbs, so any cheese with herbs (such as a Havarti with dill, or a rosemary Pecorino) will be a beautiful accompaniment to this wine.

Sangiovese/Chianti

Hard cheeses (which are hard because they have been aged) are the perfect accompaniment to a Sangiovese (such as a Chianti). The aging process concentrates the flavors, which often include nuttiness and saltiness. Pecorino Romano, Cheddar, Parmesan, and Manchego are just a few of the cheeses that stand up against this bold red wine.

Port/Fortified Wine

Port and other fortified wines are fantastic with bleu cheeses (in fact, Stilton and Port is a classic combination)! The sweetness and body of the wine hold against the boldness of any blue-veined cheese; the sweetness also contrasts beautifully with the saltiness of the cheese.

Do you need wines to pair with your next cheese board? Contact Quigley Fine Wines’s wine experts to guide you through your selections and help you create the best pairings!