The Perfect Pair: Top 20 Wine and Cheese Combinations

Wine and cheese, a timeless duo, have a synergy that elevates the flavors of both. Here’s a curated list of 20 wine and cheese pairings that you can enjoy, along with reasons why they work so well together.

Red Wines

Red wine is most people’s default when reaching into your wine rack.

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cheddar:
    Two bold and well liked classics – Cab Sauv matches up to the cheddar with its emphasis on grape and dark fruit notes, and softens the acidity and salt.  In return the cheddar brings a satiating savoury body and creaminess making the combination feel like a whole luscious meal.
  2. Young(ish) Pinot Noir and Camembert:
    Camembert likes fruit as a dance partner, and younger Pinot Noir has fruit in abundance.  The wine’s raspberries and cherries complement the creamy texture and dairy and kitchen garden flavors of Camembert.
  3. (Red) Zinfandel and Aged Goat’s Cheese:
    This Californian grape with Croatian roots make it a good partner to aged goats cheese.  Zinfandel’s boldness and distinctive hedgerow tune pairs brilliantly with the pungent, tangy, and salty notes of older goats’ truckles.
  4. Shiraz and Stilton:
    Not as warm and easy going as port, Shiraz is more energetic and engaging. The wine’s bold, spicy notes put a spring in the step of Stilton’s savoury cream and spicy blue old-style character. 
  5. Chianti and Parmesan:
    Parmesan is my most reliable pairing partner with so many wines.  Chianti is a lovely example – Chianti’s acidity and tannins offset Parmesan’s saltiness, creating a dynamic contrast with enhanced fruit notes in both the cheese and wine.
  6. South American Malbec and Epoisses:
    The wine’s dark warm red and black fruit has enough power to stand up to this punchy meaty, salty, smelly washed rind cheese.
  7. Syrah and Pecorino Sardo:
    Syrah’s dark fruit and spicy pepper notes pair with the dry saltiness and warm dry paste of this aged sheep’s cheese. Other older pecorinos work well too.
  8. Grenache and Camembert with Truffle:
    Grenache’s red fruit character, normally paired with big meat dishes, harmonises with the savoury earthy truffle notes in Camembert.
  9. Barbera and Taleggio:
    Both northern Italian classics.  Barbera’s high acidity cuts through Taleggio’s pungency, and its robust fruits are augmented by the creamy body of the cheese offering a delightful balance.
  10. Tempranillo/Rioja with Manchego with Quince Paste:
    The wine’s red fruit and oak notes harmonize with the nuttiness of Manchego and the sweetness of quince paste.
  11. Merlot and aged Gouda:
    Aged Gouda is the cheesey embodiment of caramel.  It can have hints of raison, tobacco leaf and fermented fruits, but can be dry, needing moisture to bring out its best.  Merlot’s smooth texture pulls out the gouda’s complexity, adding lite sweet red and black fruits.

White Wines

Yes white wine is an EXCELLENT choice when having cheese.

  1. Chardonnay and Brie:
    The buttery notes in Chardonnay complement Brie’s creamy texture and mild, earthy flavor.  Great for a light lunch.
  2. Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese:
    Sauvignon Blanc and Goats cheese have big roots in France’s Liore valley, and what grows together goes together. The wine’s bright acidity balances the tangy and slightly pungent notes in goat cheese.
  3. Pinot Grigio with Mozzarella and a balsamic drizzle:
    This Italian pairing combines the wine’s crispness with the fresh, milky flavors of mozzarella.  For extra effect close your eyes and imagine a hard uncomfortable café chair in a beautiful piazza in the Italian Alps.
  4. Viognier and Havarti:
    The wine’s peachy, floral notes match Havarti’s creamy and slightly sweet profile.
  5. Albariño and Cevrin:
    The wine’s citrus and floral qualities accentuate Cevrin’s complex, tangy flavors.

Rose Wines

  1. Rosé and Fresh Goats Cheese:
    The light moussey texture of the fresh cheese is lifted by the strawberries and raspberries of the wine. Somehow this works best when the sun is shining.  Alternatively fly to Provence, Cape Town or California.

Extra Special Wines

  1. Sauternes and Roquefort:
    My all-time favourite match.  The wine’s sweetness complements the intense saltiness and richness of Roquefort, creating a luxurious pairing.  If Sauterne is too much for your budget, Monbazillac has just as much impact for half the cash
  2. Champagne and Triple Cream Cheeses such as Brillat-Savarin:
    The effervescence and acidity of Champagne cut through the richness of triple cream cheese. Double luxury.
  3. Swiss white Chasselas grape blends and Swiss Cheeses:
    The wine’s dry grape flavours adds a lightness to the Swiss cheese’s mild fatty but morish savoury nuttiness, bringing elegance and balance.

When your cheese board is BIG:

  • Port is western cuisine’s go-to with the cheeseboard.  Why does it work?  Because it’s not a match to any cheese but is friendly with many.  The red fruits, sweet body, higher viscosity and dry brandy edge allows good cheese to be good cheese, acting more like a chutney than a wine. 

When pairing wine and cheese, aim for balance. The wine should either complement or contrast the cheese, enhancing both their flavors. Experiment with these combinations and discover your personal favorites.

Remember, the best pairing is the one that brings joy to your taste buds and enriches your culinary experience.

Cheers to the delightful world of wine and cheese pairings!

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