Matching cheese and wine
There's strong affinity between cheese and wine. Both are fermented products and require patience, care and a moderate temperature to mature naturally.
Matching cheese and wine can be fun. Just as every wine is unique so is every cheese. Like cheese, wine will also mature resulting in changing flavour characteristics. Matching the two requires a little experience and thought. To discover the perfect cheese and wine matches for you, you need to sample for yourself!
Follow the guidelines but also experiment, and enjoy!
Cheeses with acid like wines with acid.
- Fruity flavours like fruity wines.
- Balance the weight of the cheese with the weight of the wine.
- Sweetness in wine counter-balances and complements the acidity and saltiness of cheese.
- Visualise the taste and texture and experiment accordingly.
- The whiter and fresher the cheese, the whiter and crisper the wine.
- The darker and stronger the cheese, the darker and stronger the wine.
Responds well to a fresh, light, crisp white wine or even a fruity Rosé as they are mild with varying degrees of acidity. Fresh curd cheese or goats’ cheese, with its nutty sharpness and acidity, match well with a wine with a fruity acid such as a Sauvignon Blanc.
White Mould Cheese
Works well with a sparkling wine as it cuts though the creaminess on the palate. Aged brie can carry a more full-bodied white wine such as a Chardonnay, which brings out the buttery nature of both the cheese and the wine. A medium bodied red, such as Pinot Noir may also be suitable, or even sparkling white or red.
Washed Rind Cheese
The wine selection may vary due to cheese age and the depth of the full pungent aroma. Choose from a broad selection of wines. A specific cheese may work best with a full-bodied Pinot, a dessert or fortified wine, a sparkling red or even with beer!
The elastic texture of this cheese marries well with oaked Chardonnay or soft fruity reds such as Merlot. Dessert or fortified wines can complement the flavours and texture of eye cheese.
Cheddar and Cheddar Styles
The stronger the cheese, the bigger the wine. This is not to say that a Chardonnay will not work with this style of cheese. Dessert and fortified wines can also be a good match depending on the age and texture of the cheese.
As this cheese varies from mild to full flavoured, a number of wine varieties may work. Consider a full-bodied white or red, a dessert or fortified wine such as Sherry. Sparkling wines also may match as the acidity contrasts with texture of the cheese.
The saltiness and earthy aroma hold a wonderful affinity with sweet dessert wines, Muscat or Botrytis. A good match will emphasise the sweetness of the milk. The salt in the cheese often emphasises the wine's astringency (its tannin and acidity), so contrary to popular belief red wine is not always the best match, though some reds do work well with milder blues.
What about a beer with your selection of cheese?
The varying flavour profiles of both cheese and beer create exciting taste sensations you may not have thought about. The cleansing, effervescent properties of beer, combined with its aroma, flavour, textures and bitterness can provide the perfect accompaniment to any cheese. It's simply a matter of experimentation!
Consider a rich, creamy blue with a complex, fruity Belgian beer or a delicately, smooth camembert with a rich, malty lager. The combinations challenge convention and will reinvent the way you think about cheese pairing!