Which wines pair best with what cheeses?
Armed with the right information, you can create amazing wine and cheese pairings on your own. Let’s take a look at some classic wine and cheese pairings and why they work, so that the next time you’re on a wine and cheese getting mission, you’ll have no doubt what to choose!
This Wine & Cheese Chart is available as a poster on the Wine Folly store.
Tip #1: Pair wines and cheeses with equal intensity.
This tip is the most important takeaway for creating your own pairings. The delicate flavors of Gruyère would be overwhelmed by a big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon, but are perfectly balanced when paired alongside a Pinot Noir.
As a general rule:
- Wines over 14.5% ABV are more intense and taste better with more intensely flavored cheeses.
- Wines under 12% ABV are less intense and match nicely with more delicately flavored cheeses.
Tip #2: Bold red wines pair best with aged cheeses.
As cheese ages and looses water-content, it becomes richer in flavor with its increased fat content. These two attributes are ideal for matching bold red wines because the fat content in the cheese counteracts the high-tannins in the wine. For the best results, select cheeses that have been aged at least a year, including Cheddar, Gruyère, Manchego, Gouda, Provolone, or Parmesan-style varieties like Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano.
Tip #3: Match super funky cheeses with sweeter wines.
Sweeter wines like Moscato, Gewürztraminer, Late Harvest dessert wines, and Port match wonderfully with stinky, washed-rind, and blue-veined cheeses. Why? The sweetness in the wine helps balance the “funk” in the cheese and makes it taste creamier. Also, the “stink” of the cheese will help balance the sweet taste of the wine.
Tip #4: Sparkling wines are incredible with soft, creamy cheeses.
Tip #5: Wines and cheeses from the same place pair well together.
More often than not, you’ll do well to trust the local traditions and match wines and cheeses from the same region together. A few great examples of this include Sauvignon Blanc with Goat Cheese (Loire Valley, France), Chardonnay with Époisses de Bourgogne (Burgundy, France), and Garnacha with Manchego (Spain).
Tip #6: When in doubt, get a firm, nutty cheese.
If there are several wines being served and you’re not sure which cheese to pair, one of the safest bets and most popular choices with all styles of wines is a firm, nutty cheese. The cheese will have enough fat to counterbalance tannin in red wine, but enough delicacy to compliment delicate whites. A few examples include Swiss, Gruyère, Abbaye de Belloc, Comté Extra, Emmental, and Gouda.
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