We all know that wine and cheese go together beautifully, but pairing wine and cheese is much harder than you might think.
That’s because there isn’t just one kind of wine and one kind of cheese. But have no fear – we’re here to help!
From young and fresh to hard and aged, cheeses vary in moisture content, fat content, texture, and flavor profile.
Young fresh cheeses have a high water content and a milky, delicate texture. As a cheese ages, its moisture slowly evaporates, leaving behind luscious fats and protein. Since fat and protein carry flavors, older cheeses tend to be more rich and savory. The aging process also produces flavors ranging from earthy and nutty to pungent or downright funky (read: stinky). Not just any wine will do!
Wines, too, vary in acidity, sweetness, body, and structure. That means they run the gamut from delicate to bold. Their depth and complexity can also correlate with their age. There are a lot of factors to consider when pairing wine and cheese.
Tannic red wines – think Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon – are terrific with rich, aged cheeses because their tannins bind to protein and fat, cleansing your palate after each bite. On the flip side, that same process makes tannic wines too astringent for young cheeses like Mozzarella. They tie up what little fat is available, and can leave you with a chalky mouthfeel or a metallic aftertaste. If you must serve red wine with young cheeses, reach for one that’s low in tannins like a Beaujolais or sparkling red Lambrusco.
Sweet wines like Riesling or an off-dry Chenin Blanc beautifully balance even salty cheeses like hard Grana, Roquefort, Epoisses or even feta.
Rich, creamy cheeses like Camembert or Brie blend flawlessly with buttery Chardonnays and white Bordeaux. Fresh, soft cheeses such as Chevre or Roule love crisp whites, dry rosés, and light-bodied reds with low tannins. Shockingly (NOT!) I love them paired with Pinot Noir.
As you can see, there’s a wine for every cheese so whatever your taste you’ll soon be able to pair them with confidence. Cheers!