Watch Wine Videos

Cheese Bar: Wine and Cheese Pairings

Wine and Cheese Pairing

Join us as we adventure into the mysterious world of wine and cheese pairings with Steve Jones, professional cheese monger and owner of Cheese Bar, Portland OR.

How to Pair Wine and Cheese Guide

If You Know the Wine

Step 1 Regional Match: When pairing wine and cheese you can’t go wrong with regional matches. French cheese for French wine, American cheese for American wine and so on. This is your starting point and should be relatively self explanatory, but is an essential first step.

Step 2 Contrast Match: Harder cheese with lighter wines and softer cheese with bolder wines. Then consider who is going to be the star of the pairing? If you have a bold in-your-face wine, then look for an understated cheese, or vice versa. The idea is to compliment the more prominent pairing. This is a great pairing. For a perfect pairing you’ll need to know the flavor profile of the wine, then match it with the flavor profile of the cheese. This will take some trial and error.. Tough life, eh?

Cheater Cheeses for Any Wine

Compte Extra: A semi-firm French cheese made from cow’s milk. This is the most common of the cheater cheeses and possibly the safest all-around bet. It’s relatively hard, yet flexible, appealing to a wide range of cheese lovers with a strong and slightly sweet flavor. It will comfortably pair with just about any wine, however it will show best with lighter reds and creamy whites.

Abbaye de Belloc: A semi-firm French cheese made from sheep’s milk. Made by Benedictine Monks at the abbey of Notre-Dame de Belloc (how cool is that?), it’s a fine, dense, fatty cheese with caramelized complex flavors. A perfect pairing cheese for lighter wines. It’ll work with lighter/medium-bodied reds but is most at home within the full spectrum of whites. An ideal choice if you suspect beer drinkers and champagne lovers will be present.

Colombier: A creamy French farmhouse cheese made from goat’s milk. Yup, you’re going to get a little bit of barn-house with this unique cheese, so I’d look towards an old world pairing. If you suspect your cheese needs to stand up to robust powerful wines, hearty meals and rich ingredients, this is your cheater cheese.

Wine & Cheese Poster

Explore dozens of classic wine and cheese pairings on this illustrated print. Made with love in Seattle, WA, USA.

Cheese Bar – Portland, OR

Steve Jones, cheese monger extraordinaire, was kind enough to sit down with us and share his expertise in wine and cheese pairings. Thank you! If you find yourself in the Portland area, be sure to stop in and check out his shop. Pro Tip: Beer pairs even better with cheese! Stop in for lunch, take a seat at the bar, order a sandwich, a beer and a perfect cheese pairing, you won’t be disappointed.

Boedecker Cellars

Boedecker Cellars was generous enough to donate a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir to our quest for the perfect wine and cheese pairing. Thank you! (Try their Pinot Noir w/Compte for the same pairing Madeline had!)

How do you go about pairing cheese and wine? We look at it generally in three different ways. A regional match is almost always your best pairing. So a wine and a cheese from the same region, I feel, are almost always going to be the best match. Two other ways to go about it are contrasting, so I can take something that is very heavy and pair it with something very light, or something that is very sweet and pair it with something salty. Lastly, you can pair in parallel, say something nutty with something that has sweet nutty flavors. And that’s generally how we pair wine. If you don’t know what wine you are pairing with and you’re going to a party, we have some general cheeses called cheater cheeses. They generally go well with almost any wine. They are cheeses we have in our pocket ready to bust out for parties. I honestly was not expecting that, I bit into the cheese and was like, this is kinda cool, whatever. and then I tried the wine and it brought out all the spice characteristics in the wine, and then the cheese tasted like nutty, and almond, all these flavors all at once. Do you get the hazelnut thing? OMG, I think that’s a perfect pairing. I think you just found a perfect pairing. So, that’s another cheater cheese. I’m Steve Jones, I’m the owner of Cheese Bar here in Portland, OR. I mean, I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and people are like, oh, you must know everything. I think I maybe know 10%

About Justin Hammack

When I'm not drinking wine, I'm also.. a rails developer, vegetarian foodie, coffee addict, casual gamer, lover of cult movies, driver of insane turbo-2.0L ... in Seattle.

Get Our Free Wine 101 Guide!

Get Our Free Wine 101 Guide!