Pairing Wine and Cheese


Cheese and wine have a centuries-old tradition as a made-in-heaven match. Most often wine continues to be the beverage of choice when serving cheese. Gastronomes insist there is a scientific reason for the combination. Balance in the mouth is achieved because the high fat, high protein in cheese is modified by the wine’s astringency.  W like to think the combination rests on the fundamental idea that wine and cheese have a something in common. They both start as raw products that go through fermentation. One great advantage of their union is that cheese and wine can be enjoyed with little or no preparation.

Few hard and fast rules exist to dictate which wines go best when faced with the wide spectrum of cheese and myriad wine choices. That said, here are  several suggestions, understanding that they are the mere tip of the proverbial iceberg because the problem comes about when following the advice of cheese experts who recommend an assortment of different styles when serving cheese to company.

Therefore, one way to simply the situation is to match wine and cheese from the same region, although that requires some intensive research and a level of sophistication. There’s a lot of room for crossing over the boundaries set by “experts.” In general, white wines go better with many cheeses than reds. As a rule, young, fresh cheese like Triple or double cremes, fresh goat cheese, mozzarella and ricotta match well with crisp, fruity white wines –  Vouvray from the Loire Valley with its light sparkle, Sancerre, Sauvignon blanc, Chenin blanc, Champagne or a sparkling wine like Cava. Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are perfect with creamy blue, bloomy rind and Alpine cheeses, brie, and gouda that begin to show more intense flavors. Sweet wine like a Gewurtztraminer contrasts very well with a cheese with high acidity, some blue cheeses, and Munster.

Within the red category, fruity, light red wines such a Pinot noir are especially suited to soft cheeses, especially goat cheese. Very salty cheese looks for a wine with good acidity. Roses and Beaujolais complement  soft goat cheese and buttery styles. More full-bodied reds like Merlot, Chianti and Cabernet Sauvignon are excellent choices with Gouda, Cheddar and other hard, aged cheeses with sharpness and complex flavors.

My personal advice is to uncork a favorite bottle and get it to the right temperature. Unwrap the cheese and take it out of the refrigerator bringing them to room temperature. And if this is all to confusing, serve beer.







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