Perfect wine and cheese pairings
Cheese and wine have been enjoyed together as far back as Greek and Roman times. The best way to combine these two delicacies and guarantee a pleasurable taste sensation is to follow a few guiding principles.
When it comes to origin and aroma, birds of a feather flock together
Cheese and wine from the same region generally work well together as they are produced in the same climate and geographical conditions, and have been refined over the years by the gourmets of the region.
Cheese and wine should also have a similarly powerful aroma. The stronger and more mature the cheese, the more robust and full-bodied a wine you can select. As a result, cheeses with a delicate aroma are better suited to more subtle wines.
When it comes to flavour, though, opposites tend to attract
Cheese that is acidic, salty or very intensely flavoured should be counterbalanced by a relatively sweet wine.
If in doubt, a white wine
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to drink red wine with cheese. And you certainly don't want anything too powerful or alcoholic, as these types of wine only complement a small number of highly aromatic cheeses. In most cases, you would be better advised to try a white wine with a light residual sweetness.
Wine pairings per cheese type
The characteristic traits of young fresh cheese are its acidic note and fruity aroma. This type of cheese will go very well with spritzy champagne or Prosecco, or perhaps a light and fruity white wine with low acidity. The younger and fresher the cheese and the higher the water content, the better. The subtle fruity sweetness of the white wine counteracts the acidity of the fresh cheese.
Soft cheese with white mould
White mould cheese is slightly salty and the rind has a mushroom note. Its mild flavour goes well with dry, fresh white wines and light red wines with fruity aromas and low tannins. The high fat content of the soft cheese can be balanced perfectly by the acidity and tannins in the wine.
Goat's and sheep's cheese
Goat's cheese and sheep's cheese have a sour taste and an intense aroma. For this reason, they work better with relatively light, dry or semi-dry to sweet white wines that are not too heavy. Avoid combining these types of cheese with wines that are high in acidity.
Mould-ripened soft cheese
With spicy, mould-ripened cheese, the choice of wine will depend on whether or not you eat the rind. Without the rind, this cheese is best accompanied by a simple, semi-dry white wine; whereas, with the rind, it works better with a fruity, mellow red wine that is low in acidity.
Semi-hard and hard cheeses
Semi-hard and hard cheeses come in a wide range of flavours. The suitability of the wine and cheese pairing depends on the intensity. However, as a general rule, semi-hard and hard cheeses tend to be more concentrated and spicy. They also have a very high salt and fat content, and therefore have a more intense flavour. For this reason, full-bodied white and red wines are also a good match. The harder and more strongly flavoured the semi-hard or hard cheese, the more tannins the wine can contain.
Spicy and intense blue cheese works well with wine that can provide a counterbalance. Generally speaking, only sweet wines with a subtle acidity can achieve this. Other suitable options include port and sherry. As a general rule, the saltier the blue cheese, the sweeter the wine.
Summary: The end game is worth the challenge
The perfection in taste and aroma which can be achieved by a well executed wine and cheese pairing can make for exciting experimentation. Though it's not always easy to select the right wine for your cheese, if you're courageous enough to try, you'll be sure to get there with a little time, practice and experience!