Unearthing the “Cheeseterious” Art of Wine and Cheese Pairing

September 26, 2023

In a world where gourmet salads and kale smoothies often overshadow the older and simpler joys of life, we find ourselves on a quest to resurrect the illustrious art of cheese and wine pairing.

Ah, the magic that happens when fermented grape juice meets curd–it’s like a culinary love story for the ages. When it works, it really works!

It’s easy to be put off by the elaborate rituals that accompany this art. The swirl, the sniff, the sip–it’s like a secret handshake among the sophisticated elite, who have somehow unlocked the cheese and wine pairing matrix. You half-expect them to break into a tango with their wine glasses, displaying moves that would put Fred Astaire to shame.

I find the language of wine alienating. It’s like a competitive sport, points given for the most obscure “notes”, certain to alienate half the audience. “ThisPinot Noir has notes of forest fruits, cherry, violets and strawberry and black cherry, with a gamey savouriness.” I doubt it’s changed in 200 years.

The real challenge is pairing. Who knew that the wrong cheese-wine duo could lead to an epic culinary disaster?

Red wine-A massive No-No for many classic French cheeses. Who knew?

And let’s not forget the pedants. They’re the ones who insist that a Gruyère can only be enjoyed with a Burgundy, no hint of compromise as if they were personally consulted by the cheese and wine deities themselves. They’ll swirl their glass, take a dramatic sip, and nod in approval, making you wonder if they’re tasting wine or deciphering ancient runes.

But amidst the chuckles and eye-rolls, there’s something undeniably charming about this art. It’s a delightful adventure that brings people together, sparks conversations, and even, on occasion, leads to gastronomic revelations.

I was tasting the other day with a first class British chef who gets a new tattoo every holiday. He picked up porcini mushrooms when pairing a Californian Pinot Noir with Roquefort. I thought he was making it up, but he was right (he usually is).

After all, there’s nothing quite like the joy of discovering the perfect cheese-wine pairing, even if it takes a few missteps and a lot of laughter along the way.

Here are four tips for you and your friends when rolling out potential matches

  • Try balancing out the tastes (sweet/salt/savoury/acid/bitter). Reinforcing them can be overwhelming.
  • Link the flavours in the cheese and wine. If there is mushroom or floral notes in both, the result can be spondiferous.
  • Match strengths: think like a boxer–don’t put a welterweight in the ring with a heavy weight.

And the golden rule (if there is one)…

  • Go Local

What grows together goes together. 100 generations of celebrations at births, weddings, and funerals has honed cuisines to find the best matches and farm their territory accordingly.

So, let’s raise a glass to the lost art of cheese and wine pairing, where sophistication meets silliness, and where the pursuit of deliciousness is always accompanied by a side dish of laughter.

Because in the end, the best pairings are the ones that make you smile.

Cheers to cheesy happiness!

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