With the Holiday Season approaching and entertaining schedules about to kick into high gear, it’s prime time to perfect your wine and cheese pairing prowess! Creamy, comforting and delicious, cheese is synonymous with the Fall and Winter months, and wine can arguably be the perfect accompaniment. But what wine to serve with that wedge of triple cream Brie, charming Cheddar, or fragrant Epoisses? Here are a few basic tips for creating the perfect duo.
Principle #1: Pair wines and cheeses with similar flavor profiles: The same principle that works for food and wine also works for wine and cheese. If you enjoy particular flavors in a cheese, opt for a wine that mirrors those delicious qualities. For instance, a tangy, acidic fresh goat cheese would be well matched with a zesty, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc. Similar flavors create this fabulous flavor synergy! In addition to fresh goat cheese with Sauvignon Blanc, other examples of this principle include Camembert or Brie with Chardonnay, aged sheep’s milk cheese with sherry, and Emmentaler with Merlot.
Try the 2014 Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc ($14) from South Africa paired with fresh goat’s milk Fromage Blanc
Principle #2: Pair the texture and weight of wine and cheese: The texture of a cheese is an important window into its flavor and can aid in finding a great wine to match it. For instance, if a cheese is creamy and viscous, like Brie, you would want to match it with a wine with similar qualities, say a creamy, buttery Chardonnay. Or, if you’re in the mood for a semi-hard cheese like cheddar, a medium-bodied Zinfandel would probably work best. Some classic examples of this principle include Manchego and Rioja, Gruyère and Gewürztraminer and washed-rind cheese and Cabernet Franc.
Try the 2010 Cune Rioja Crianza ($14) from Spain paired with a nutty Manchego cheese
Principle #3: Pair wines and cheeses with opposite flavors: This may appear contrary to the first pairing tip, however, if you are a fan of sweet and salty or sweet and savory flavors together, this might be the principle for you! Choosing opposing flavors in wine and cheese can make for some delicious flavor combinations. If you have a salty cheese, then it will generally pair well with a sweet wine – as long as the saltiness and sweetness are in balance. Classic “opposite” cheese and wine pairings include Roquefort and Sauternes and Stilton and Port.
Try the 2013 Anne Amie Cuvée A Müller-Thurgau ($16) from Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton district paired with an aged blue cheese
While these pairing principles can serve as a guide for establishing some wonderful wine and cheese pairings, the best practice is to experiment and discover what truly pleases your palate! What are some of your favorite wine and cheese pairings?