Homage to Fromage: 3 Key Wine & Cheese Pairing Principles!

The Holiday Season is the perfect time to hone 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 or “Pairing Principles” as I like to call them, for creating the perfect duo.

Principle #1: Pair Wines + 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 a crisp, tangy Sauvignon Blanc paired with fresh goat’s milk Fromage Blanc or Chevre. Producers to look for include Paul Cluver (South Africa), Invivo X (New Zealand), Michel Redde (Sancerre) + Round Pond (Napa).

Principle #2: Pair the Texture and Weight of Wine + 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.

Try Manchego and Rioja, Gruyère and Gewürztraminer and/or washed-rind cheeses and Cabernet Franc for some classic examples of this principle.

Principle #3: Pair Wines + 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.

While these three 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? Please let me know in the comments section below!

Stephanie Miskew
Stephanie Miskew