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The Beginner’s Guide To Pairing Your Favorite Wines and Cheeses!
This guide will tell you which wines and cheeses should be paired together so you can bring some tasty sophistication to your next dinner party or picnic!
As the weather becomes nicer, many people start enjoying the great outdoors through picnics and outdoor gatherings. It’s quite common to enjoy wine and cheese as an appetizer, but not many people know how to do it correctly. While many wine and cheese combinations tantalize the taste buds, it can be difficult to keep track of which wine and cheese pairings are considered to be the best. Although there are countless varieties of wine, this article serves as a guide for pairing cheese with the most popular wines!
Chardonnay - Chardonnay is one of the most popular types of white wine. It comes from a green-skinned grape that is planted worldwide. Depending on where the grapes are grown, Chardonnay wines can have a diverse flavor profile, with flavors ranging from mildly fruity to oaky. Some even have a tasty vanilla overtone! In general, Chardonnay wines are dry, medium to full bodied, and have moderate acidity and alcohol content. With this in mind, the best cheese to pair with your next glass of Chardonnay is a buttery Cheddar. The mild and milky flavors will bring out the fruitiness of the wine.
Sauvignon Blanc - Sauvignon Blancs are typically known as dry wines with a vast range of profiles and flavors. It’s taste can range from more fruity flavors, such as passion fruit, mango, and grapefruit, to more pungent herbal and vegetable flavors, including asparagus and peas. These wines tend to have moderate to strong acidity, but are still light and refreshing. While many drinkers prefer a goat cheese with their Sauvignon Blanc, others find that many Cheddars, Havarti, Gouda, Parmesan, and various Alpine cheeses make for a delightful pairing. Ultimately, your cheese of choice needs to be able to cut through the powerful acidity and flavor profile of this delicious wine.
Pinot Grigio - Arguably the most popular type of white wine, Pinot Grigio is crisp, light, and refreshing. Pinot Grigios can be mildly dry or sweet depending on the bottle, and have moderate levels of acidity. Its fruity flavor profile can vary depending on where the grapes are grown, but drinkers of Pinot Grigio may notice hints of lemon, green apple, and floral blossoms in their glass. Soft, mild cheeses made from cow’s milk or goat’s milk tend to pair best with Pinot Grigios. We recommend mozzarella or goat cheese, as these mild cheeses will enhance the sweetness and mild flavors of the wine. Avoid intense cheeses, such as sharp Cheddar and strong blue cheeses, as these flavors will clash with the wine or overpower it entirely.
Cabernet Sauvignon - Cabernet Sauvignon is a red wine that is famous for its full, rich body and strong tannins. This dry wine has a diverse flavor profile that ranges from sweet berries to woods, such as oak and cedar. It can even have herbal and tobacco overtones! Since Cabernet Sauvignon wines are extremely strong, they should be paired with fatty, full bodied cheeses so that neither component overpowers the other. Examples of these cheeses included aged Cheddars, Asiago, or a strong Parmesan cheese.
Pinot Noir - Another popular red wine, Pinot Noir is a medium to light-bodied wine. It is loved for its subtle flavor pallet, which includes hints of raspberries, cherries, cranberries, spices, mushrooms and flowers. This long finished wine is considered to be one of the most elegant, and can be paired with almost any type of cheese. Some wine connoisseurs prefer nutty cheeses, such as Gruyere, but the key is finding a cheese and wine pairing that compliments one another without overwhelming the subtle aroma and flavors of the Pinot Noir.
Syrah – Syrah, which is also known as Shiraz in some parts of the world, is a dark red wine known for its dense, full-body and bold flavors. It’s signature aroma comes from dark fruits, pepper, smoke and bacon, oak and herbs, and vanilla. Syrah wines tend to be dryer, and need to be paired with a strong cheese, such as blue cheeses or Gouda. A glass of Syrah calls for a soft aromatic cheese with high fat content and earthly flavor overtones.
Zinfandel - Zinfandel is a red wine with high acidity and high alcohol content. It is known and enjoyed for its light body and moderate tannins. Because of the boldness of Zinfandels, this wine variety is paired best with stronger, flavorful cheeses that can hold their own against this wine. Blue cheeses, Stilton, Cheddar, Feta, Parmesan, Havarti, Gorgonzola and other dense cheeses do an excellent job of complementing the fruity overtones of Zinfandel wines.
Riesling - Rieslings are light-bodied, sweet white wines. Their high acidity and strong sweetness are what categorizes Rieslings as dessert wines. Although Rieslings can occasionally be dry, they are known for their aromas of sweet flowers, fruits, and spices. Because of the intense sweetness and acidity, consider pairing your next glass of Riesling with a full bodied cheese that can contrast the wine’s sweetness, such as Limburger or an alternate salty cheese. Rieslings also pair well with Feta, Parmesan, Gouda, and Blue cheeses.
Moscato - Similar to Rieslings, Moscato wines are also very sweet, with a hint of fizz, and are classified as a dessert wine. This wine has low alcohol content and is known for its fruity flavor pallet, which can include peach, orange, nectarine, pear, and flower blossoms. Since Moscato is one of the sweetest wines available, it needs to be paired with medium to firm cheeses that boast their own strong flavor profile. We recommend blue cheese or Gorgonzola!
Rosé Wines, or blush wines, are not quite red or white. These wines are lighter colored, and are made from fermenting red wine grapes for a shorter period of time than normal. Rosés tend to be lighter bodied wines with subtle flavors, and are quite refreshing to drink on a warm Summer evening. They should be paired with a cheese that also has a milder, subtle flavor profile, such as Gruyere and Feta.
Sparkling Wines are red or white wines that have been carbonated, which makes them fizzy or bubbly. These wines go through a second fermentation process to perfect the flavor and to become carbonated. Just like non-carbonated wines, Sparkling wines come in a variety of flavors and can be sweet or dry. Typically, carbonation makes these wines sweeter and more acidic, which means they should be paired with richer, flavorful cheeses, such as Camembert, Chevre and Chaource cheeses.
No matter which wine you enjoy, there is always a cheese that will pair perfectly. Try one of the pairings above, or experiment with your personal favorite wines and cheeses to learn what you like. Exploring different combinations of cheese and wine are sure to lead to many hours of flavor delight, and you might even discover the next best thing!