Pairing wine and cheese is a sophisticated food and drink item, but many people don't know that some combinations just don’t work. The key to successful cheese and wine pairings is understanding what makes each type of wine different from one another and how it will react with certain types of cheeses.
Here are the best cheese and wine pairings for your next event!
1. Cabernet Sauvignon and Aged or Sharp Cheddar
Cabernet Sauvignon is a diverse classic grape, prized for its full-bodied and rich flavors and lower tannins that make up its lighter-bodied versions. The most common aromatic components found in Cabernet Sauvignon include dark fruits like plums, cherries, blackberries, along with warm spices such as vanilla or licorice root.
Aged cheddars have a nutty taste, which becomes more pronounced as the cheese ages. Its texture can be crumbly and sharp to cut through even the hardest bread, yet sometimes it is almost buttery despite its salty bite.
Aged Cheddar can be a fabulous pairing with tannic wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon as it helps to balance the bitterness of these astringent, dry reds and their intense flavors are well-matched by one another in this way.
2. Merlot and Gouda
Merlot is a wine varietal that sits right in the middle of the red spectrum. This rich and smooth wine is flavorful, thanks to its medium tannin, acidity, and alcohol. You can get cherry, plum, or raspberry flavors with a hint of spice that leaves an easy-drinking finish on your tongue.
Gouda cheese is a traditionally aged cow's milk cheese with a rich, savory flavor. The subtle butterscotch or caramel hints develop as it matures, and its texture becomes crumbly like parmesan.
Gouda goes well with a variety of wines, from white to red wine. Merlot has an acidity level similar to Gouda, making for a sensational wine and cheese pairing. Merlot would also be great to pair with Monterey Jack, Gruyere, and Herb Cheese.
3. Syrah and Roquefort
Syrah is a dark, hearty wine with an intense taste. It's full-bodied and dry while remaining very well balanced without being sour or bitter. There are hints of smoke, bacon, and floral from the violet flower, making this one among the perfect wine pairings for any occasion!
Roquefort is a tangy, creamy blue-veined cheese that has an unmistakable smell. Roquefort's pungent taste and sharp metallic flavor are balanced by sheep milk’s sweet burnt caramel, which creates its distinct bouquet.
If you're looking for a more daring flavor profile with your reds, try Syrah paired alongside Roquefort. The salty profile of Roquefort sets the perfect balance with Syrah that has a smoky and meaty flavor. Aged cheese, gorgonzola, and pecorino can also be paired with Syrah.
4. Pinot Noir and Gruyere
Pinot Noir is a tasty dry wine ideal for those who enjoy the subtleties of fruit and berries mixed with oak. They have a bright acidic taste from their tannins, making them refreshing for warmer weather or as appetizers before dinner.
Gruyère cheese is a softer, creamier Swiss variety with a nutty flavor and an appetizing yellow appearance.
Pinot Noir is an excellent match for nutty cheeses, such as Gruyere. The berry fruit in the rich red wine complements the flavor of this medium-firm cheese without overpowering it. They both have just enough aroma and complexity, so they don't become boring after one bite!
5. Zinfandel and Asiago
Zinfandel is a "fruit-bomb" of flavors. You'll taste the sweet hints from blueberry to cherry and black pepper all in one drink! However, when you take your first sip, be prepared for that spice kick because it comes out in full force with the charcoal aftertaste.
Asiago cheese has a subtle flavor reminiscent of Parmesan, but it also contains nutty and creamy flavors. The fresh version of this Italian cow's milk cheese actually tastes mild, whereas when aged for about nine months or so, its sharpness becomes more apparent.
Asiago has a very distinct, strong scent that reminds you of something like brine, but the flavor is not as salty as you think. When paired with Zinfandel's blackberry and smoky taste, they both bring out each other's character so well!
6. Malbec and Aged or Vintage Cheese
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Malbec wines are dark in color, with a full-bodied taste. They have flavors of blackberry and red plum that bring to mind juicy jams and chocolate cake on the nose, without being too sweet or heavy for those who prefer dry wine types.
The flavor of vintage cheese is strong, savory, and nutty. The acidity can be a bit overwhelming at first, but the astringent effect balances it out well with pleasant fruitiness that lingers in your mouth. It's got an excellent texture with bits of crunchy crystals for added delight.
The robust flavor of vintage cheese is best complemented by a medium to full-bodied red wine that can hold its own against the intense flavors, like Malbecs. While this type of wine often has black fruit and anise notes, it also has herbal qualities which match well with those in your favorite aged cheeses.
7. Beaujolais and Feta
Beaujolais is a good choice for those who want to enjoy red wine without pesky tannins. It's light-bodied, high in acidity, and low on tannin. The palate has various flavors, including raspberry, cranberry, cherry, and currant, among other fruits.
Feta is a cheese with an exciting mix of flavors. The longer you age it, the more peppery and hard it will get! Feta, made mostly from sheep's milk, has that rich buttery flavor, while goat cheese makes the cheese harder but milder in taste.
The light nature of Beaujolais pairs nicely with the saltiness and richness of Feta while still being refreshing enough that it doesn't overwhelm your tastebuds. If you don’t have feta, you can go for soft cheeses like Camembert, Brie, and Edam.
8. Tempranillo and Manchego
The Tempranillo grape wine has a rich, complex taste. Its black fruit flavors include dried figs and berries, but it also offers savory tobacco notes like the dill weed. This complexity is achieved by aging this vineyard-grown wine for years inside an oak barrel.
Manchego cheese is a semi-hard, golden hue with an overall mild to sharp flavor. It has nutty and buttery undertones, which are surprisingly more subdued than its salty counterpart.
Many would agree that Tempranillo and Manchego are among the most classic wine and cheese pairings. Manchego's unique properties -hard, slightly oily, and robust- make it an excellent choice to serve alongside many different types and styles of wine from Spain, but it is best paired with Tempranillo.
9. Chianti and Parmesan
The taste of Chianti is a delicate balance of aromas and flavors. Anyone who has tasted Chianti knows the taste uniquely features red fruits, dried herbs, balsamic vinegar, smoke, or game, depending on its qualities. The experience might also offer up notes like preserved sour cherries in high-end wines and other bolder characteristics.
The parmesan cheese is a wonder in taste and texture. It offers the perfect balance between salty, tangy, sweet, and spicy flavors, making it an ideal accompaniment for various dishes and wines.
Chianti has a somewhat heavy and robust flavor that goes well with hard Italian cheeses. People recommend parmesan cheese because of its nutty flavors to balance out chianti's fruity notes. Pairing Chianti with Pecorino is also a great choice.
10. Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese
Among the best wine and cheese pairings are Sauvignon Blanc and Goat cheese. Sauvignon Blanc is a dry white wine that's heavy and has pronounced acidity. It's best known for making your mouth pucker just the slightest bit. Some Sauvignon Blancs have residual sugar, providing an added richness to its slightly sweeter taste.
Goat cheese has an earthy and tangy flavor which can be intense in its youth. The flavors settle to provide a cleaner taste for other foods when you let them linger on your palette.
A good French wine like Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for goat cheese because it complements its earthiness with citrus and mineral notes. This wine’s acidity also cuts through the weight of the cheese, so your palate won’t be bogged down by all that flavor!
11. Chardonnay and Camembert
Chardonnay is among the best white wines that can range from light and fruity to heavy with oak. It has moderate acidity but not too much alcohol, making it easy to drink for any occasion! Chardonnays are also versatile because they have many different flavors to offer.
Camembert is a delicate earthy cheese with a creamy, nutty taste with hints of butter and mushrooms outside its bloomy rind. Camembert can be described as one-of-a-kind compared to other cheeses such as Brie because it provides more earthiness than creaminess without being overbearing.
Known for its delicate flavor, Camembert is the perfect cheese to pair with white wines like Chardonnay. The acidity of both can cut through all that creaminess and create a well-rounded pairing that won't disappoint! If you can't get your hands on Camembert, try other cheeses like Gruyere or Cream Cheese.
12. Riesling and Parmigiano Reggiano
Riesling is a refreshing wine that has been growing in popularity over the last few years. It features crisp flavors of apples, apricots, peaches, and pears with high acidity to give it an optimal taste for any occasion.
Authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese has a sharp, complex fruity or nutty taste with a strong savory flavor and a slightly gritty texture. Chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano should be cracked, not cut with a knife, to preserve the flavor.
This classic hard Italian cow's milk cheese goes great with a sweet Riesling. The saltiness and sweetness play off each other to create this delicious taste sensation! You can also go for blue cheeses, gouda or feta.
13. Pinot Grigio and Mozzarella
Pinot Grigio has fruity flavors that include lime, pear, honeysuckle, and green apple. Pinot Grigios are less sweet than Chardonnays because they have such high acid content.
Mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese that has an elastic texture and tastes slightly sour. As it ages, it becomes softer, and the flavor becomes more delicate with notes of milk, which makes for great "meltability" in many dishes.
Pinot Grigio wine is an excellent match for soft cheese, like Mozzarella, since the acidic taste of this wine balances out the mild and sweet flavors in these cheeses to create an enjoyable pairing experience. Chevre also goes nicely with Pinot Grigio.
14. Chenin Blanc and Cream Cheese
Chenin Blanc is a classic wine that was first made famous in the Loire Valley of France. It has many different flavors such as floral and honeyed aromas, quince, apple-like flavors with good, zippy acidity.
Cream cheese is a mild, sweet-tasting spreadable cheese that has the slightest tang. It comes in various flavors, including those with herbs and fruit blended.
Soft cow's milk cheese such as brie, gruyere, and cheddar work with Chenin Blanc, especially cream cheese. The creaminess of the cheese creates a fantastic symphony of flavors with the wine's fruity tastes. For something more adventurous, you can try other cheeses like herb-crusted goat cheese.
15. Moscato d’Asti and Gorgonzola
Moscato d’Asti is a sweet, fruity wine with the aromas of peaches, orange, lemons, and grapes. The flavor tingles on your tongue from the light carbonation that causes acidity to tickle your taste buds as you take long sips.
Gorgonzola is a blue cheese that ranges from creamy and soft to firm and crumbly. It's full-flavored with earthy undertones of saltiness. The age of Gorgonzola will determine how much creaminess or crunch there'll be in each bite!
The sweet notes of Moscato d’Asti balance with the salty flavors from Gorgonzola, and it makes for a perfect way to enjoy dessert after an excellent meal. Moscato d’Asti and Muenster is also a pairing you shouldn't miss also.
16. Vermentino and Ricotta
Vermentino is a wine known for its aromatic profile, which can include citrus fruits and floral notes. Vermentino has flavors ranging from sweet to bitter on the palate with either mineral or saltiness in between tastes. The finish of this white wine is reminiscent of almonds.
Ricotta is a cheese that has an almost custard-like texture and light, creamy taste. It’s most often paired with sweeter wines or desserts because of its mild flavor.
When pairing Vermentino with cheese, avoid overly pungent cheeses and stick to the fresher varieties like ricotta, as this will complement your wine beautifully without confusing each other's flavor profile.
17. Gewurztraminer and Muenster
Gewurztraminer can be a complex wine with an almost overwhelming aroma ranging from roses to apricot kernels and tropical fruit. When the right kind of rot is present, dried fruits like figs or raisins and honey are often detectable in the bouquet.
Muenster is a buttery cheese with a mild flavor that's reminiscent of Monterey Jack. It’s typically made from whole milk and is white or yellowish-white in appearance.
Gewürztraminer is an excellent wine to pair with mild cheeses such as Muenster because the strong flavor of the wine can be tamed by the cheese's mellowness.
18. Viognier and Jarlsberg
Viognier is a light white wine that can be both delicate and complex. The taste ranges from sweet flavors of tangerine to clove with honey undertones. It also has hints of creamy vanilla to spritzy bitterness, depending on the producer's methods.
Jarlsberg cheese has both an unusual and enticing texture. Though it starts as soft, the taste of its interior will most likely catch your attention: buttery rich with just enough mild sweetness to stand out!
Jarlsberg cheese is a perfect match for Viognier wine since its nutty and sweet tastes go superbly with the fruit-forward flavor profile that makes up most Viogniers. You should also try pairing Viognier with Gruyere.
19. Sparkling Wine and Baby Swiss
Champagne, Prosecco, and other sparkling wines have a delicate balance of flavors: typically citrus, apple, vanilla, or toast. The flavor profile will vary depending on the quality level. Prosecco is lighter with fruit flavors that stay in your mouth after drinking.
Baby Swiss cheese is famous for having a creamier texture and milder flavor with hints of sweetness and nuttiness. The size of the holes in regular Swiss cheeses determines their intensity; larger eyes mean more pronounced flavors, ranging from slightly sweet to tangy or sharp depending on how long they have aged.
Baby Swiss brings a smooth, creamy mouthfeel that blends seamlessly with the already light and bubbly Champagne. The sharp bubbles of the Champagne create an unforgettable sparkling sensation that makes you want more. Sparkling wine also pairs well with Colby and Muenster.
20. Aged Port and Blue Stilton
Port is a delicious fortified wine variety that can be served to complement dessert or just as an after-dinner drink. While many think of it more sweetly, its flavors depend on the type of aged port and may include notes of blackberry, caramel, raspberry cinnamon, and chocolate sauce with tannins so finely married to the ripe texture.
Stilton cheese has a creamy and subtly sweet flavor with a pungent aftertaste. It is deemed as the cream of choice for blue cheeses because it's not too salty or bitter on its own.
Blue Stilton is the perfect match for a Port wine of any age. This cheese has an intense flavor and assertive aroma that cuts through the sweetness in Port and other Portuguese wines while providing excellent contrast in texture and mouthfeel.
21.Rose and Monterey Jack
Rosé is the perfect summertime wine. It provides a refreshing respite from heavy red wines that are usually favored in the winter seasons. A typical rosé flavor profile includes strawberries, raspberries, or cherries. However, there are many different varieties of this light-bodied beverage with varying notes for any taste preference.
Monterey Jack cheese is a quintessential American-style cheese, which has been around for centuries. It's mild and buttery in flavor with just the right dose of tang to make it irresistible on its own or as a complement.
Monterey Jack and Dry Rosé is a match made in heaven. The soft, mellow flavor of the cheese brings out the delicate fruitiness found within many Provence Rosés while adding an extra depth to their crisp acidity.
One of the most iconic and memorable combinations is wine and cheese. The two have been paired for years to create a decadent, luxurious experience that never disappoints. From the first sip of red or white wine to the final bite of the cheese, you’ll find yourself in complete bliss.
What is the best wine and cheese pairing for you? Let us know in the comments.