Cheese and wine. Name something better. We'll wait. You can't name one? That's what we thought! Wine and cheese have been each other's best friends for centuries. Both cheese and wine take years of aging to get to the proper maturation and maximum flavor. They also require careful tending to by producers. Guess you could say they are both incredibly high maintenance. They go well together because cheese is fatty and wine is sharp. They are definitive proofs that opposites attract. Just one bite of cheese and a sip of wine, and you'll discover their delicious coupling of flavor and texture. But there are so many options! From milk cheeses like ricotta, a semi-soft fontina, or a sheep's milk Roquefort to wines from Rioja or malbecs, no two wines are the same... nor are any two cheese.
In a study conducted in France, researchers uncovered some scientific proof as to why cheese and wine go together so well. According to their research, cheese enhances fruit aroma perception while simultaneously reducing red wines' astringency and heightening white wine's taste.
Cheese, in case you need a reminder, is high in fat. Therefore, it coats the mouth and blocks the taste receptors to beverages. Thus, the acidity and freshness of a well-paired wine can penetrate through this creamy, delicious barrier to produce a richer, fuller flavor profile and produce an excellent mouthfeel.
Pairing wine and cheese is an art form that takes balance. There are a few elements to keep in mind. Here are a few:
- Tannins, Tannins, Tannins: Tannins are natural components found in plants. In nature, their primary function is they bind and precipitate proteins. In other words, they deter animals from eating a plant's fruit or seeds before the plant is ripe. If you've ever bitten into an unripe fruit and have experienced an astringent, mouth-coating feeling, you can thank tannins for that! Tannins significantly influence the nutritional value of many foods. They are common in fruits, tea, chocolate, and fruit. Because they have such a strong flavor, tannins in red wine can clash with cheese. The takeaway: pair high tannic red wines with caution.
- Opposites don't always attract: When it comes to pairing cheese and wine, know that the pairing alone is as opposite as it should get. In other words, heavy cheese goes with heavy wine, and light cheese goes with a light wine.
- Opposites can attract: This might sound counterintuitive to our last statement, but bear with us. Instead of heavy and light, flavors that are seemingly opposite can be delightful together.
- Regions stick together: Have you ever noticed that any Italian wine goes with all Italian food? There's a reason for that. Therefore, a cheese created from the same territory as a wine often was made to be together.
- Things that grow together go together. The concept of terroir describes the environment (including soil and climate) in which wines grow. The same idea can be applied to cheese. As such, it can be fun (and educational) to match wine and cheese from the same area. Brunello and Pecorino di Pienza from Tuscany or Sancerre and chèvre from France are two beloved pairings based on terroir.
Ultimately, cheese and wine pairings' goal is to find a wine that doesn't overpower the cheese and find a cheese that doesn't overpower the wine. Because we know that finding the perfect combination is a little tricky and potentially a little intimidating, we have a few varieties that we know work deliciously together. You are welcome.
1. Rosé and Mozzarella
Rosé is the ultimate pairing for a ton of cheeses. Because rosé are bright, they can cut through even the heartiest of cheese, and their tannins are gentle enough that they won't dull your palate. Unlike red and white wines, rosé can virtually go with almost any cheese. Of course, you should avoid anything too intense because it can overwhelm and overpower a rose's delicate taste. If you're hoping to pair rosé, reach for a dry rosé, tart, and bubbly, because those are the most naturally paired with cheese than its sweeter varieties.
Other cheeses that can be your go-to rosé pairings?
Burrata: sweet and milky, burrata enhances the fruity strawberry notes in sweet wines like rosé. The wine's acidity easy cute through the creaminess of burrata cheese.
Feta and salty cheeses: Bright wines and tangy soft cheeses. Need we say more? Feta goes great with a high-acidity riesling, a sauvignon blanc, or a pinot grigio. If you're going for the riesling, you can also reach for an asiago cheese.
Aged Chèvre: Dense and cake-like, you automatically crave something bright when enjoying the cheese. It's a clean and elegant pairing that's made for enjoying time and time again.
2. Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese
As the name suggests, goat cheese is any cheese made with goat milk instead of cow's milk. Goat cheese is known for being a soft and more spreadable cheese but has varieties that range from soft to hard, tangy and sweet, and everywhere in between.
The many layers of flavor in goat cheese can make pairing it with wine a challenge. However, you can find a wine that pairs harmoniously, and that will show off both the flavors of the cheese as well as the wine.
The wine we pick? Sauvignon Blanc. The zippy acidity in Sauvignon matches goat cheese's acidity. The combination results in a fresh and refreshing taste. The pairing also happens to be a regional one.
3. Pinot Noir and Gruyere
Pinot Noir is an incredibly versatile wine when it comes to food pairings. Pinot Noir pairs deliciously with a wide range of cheeses, including anything from goat cheese to tangy blue cheese. Because Pinot Noir is typically light to medium-bodied wine with fruit notes of berries and or cherries and earthy characteristics with hints of minerals, herbs, and spices, it tastes incredible with the salty yet somewhat fruity taste of gruyere cheese.
4. Champagne and Brie
Sparkling wine, namely Champagne, has been the drink of choice for celebrating. And if you're asking us, no celebration is complete without cheese! When pairing foods with Champagne, it's tough to go wrong. Because it has a bubbly and light personality, Champagne can get along with a wide range of foods. Because Champagne pairs well with both buttery and earthy foods, a white-rinded Brie is a delicious pairing. With its triple-cream and soft form, Brie is indeed a perfect match for Champagne!
5. Moscato and Blue Cheese
For most cheese and wine pairings, experts shy away from blue cheese. But, Moscato is up to the match. A little fizzy and deliciously aromatic, Moscato can stand up to the intense flavors of moldy blue cheese. Moscato's sweet flavors balance the intense cheese flavors and create a combination of creamy texture and acidity. Honestly, we're drooling just thinking about it.
6. Cabernet Sauvignon and Gouda
My favorite is gouda. If we don't know what we mean by that, then clearly you need to go watch "She's the Man." Now that you know your homework for tonight, we can go back to the topic at hand. Cabernet Sauvignon, America's most ordered and beloved red wine, compliments a savory dinner perfectly. Therefore, Cabernet can play nicely with a good cheese plate as well, especially gouda. The rich body of tannins in Cabernet complements the nutty flavors of gouda perfectly. And when it comes to gouda, aged is always better.
7. Prosecco and Parmesan
Prosecco and parmesan is a renowned pairing for many delicious and good reasons. Better than just piling on top of a good plate of pasta, parmesan cheese delightfully balances the sweetness of Prosecco! Parmesan or a parmigiano-reggiano is a hard cheese that also pairs well with a merlot.
8. Chardonnay and Camembert
Camembert is one of the most famous French cheeses. Created using cow's milk, Camembert is thick, creamy, and complete with a lava-like center. Chardonnay and Camembert are a complex and delightful pairing. Chardonnay cuts through the cheese's rich creaminess due to its acidity, but the wine's fruit flavors don't overwhelm Camembert. Instead, the two work together, enhancing each other equally. Chardonnay can also be paired with a Havarti, which goes well with Red Zinfandel, too!
Whether you have a syrah or a Bordeaux, an aged cheddar or a young cheddar, a swiss or a muenster the options for your cheese board are unlimited. So pick up your aged cheese and your even older wines, and start pairing!