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Wine and Cheese Pairing Ideas

- Updated

We have fondue, triple cream, and stinky blues lined up for your next glass of wine. Check out these modern variations on classic wine and cheese pairings, then dig into the details below for specific wine and cheese recommendations.

wine-and-cheese-pairing

AVAILABLE NOW: See the wine and cheese pairing poster.

Bold Red Wine and Cheese

Wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Zinfandel match up well with equally intense cheeses. Match them with a cheese that’s firm and a bit salty, perhaps with tyrosine crystals. You’ll best enjoy the cheese in small bite-sized pieces over grilled bread.

Cabernet Sauvignon does well with aged cheddars and peppery cheeses.

cabernet-cheddar-wine-cheese

 

Emphasize the tobacco notes in Shiraz with a smokey cheese.

shiraz-gouda-wine-cheese

 

Candied and fruity Garnacha wines are a complementary match to a 4 month Spanish Manchego.

Garnacha and Manchego Cheese

Create a Perfect Pairing

Every wine is unique. Is your wine dry and spicy? Smooth out rigid tannins and bracing acidity with a slightly less firm cheese. The fat content will complement the tannin, and the texture will absorb high acidity. For example, a 5 month aged Bra Duro with Barolo. Learn about the basic characteristics of wine to fine-tune your pairings.

More Bold Red Wine & Cheese Pairings:

  • Aged Gouda
  • Bandage Wrapped Cheddar
  • Goat Cheddar
  • Smoked Cheddar or Gouda
  • Nufenen
  • Basque Sheep’s Milk Cheese
  • Grana Padano
  • Fiore Sardo
  • Toma del Lait Brusc – Northern Italy
  • Pecorino
  • Azores Flores
  • Manchego
cheese-wine-pairing-poster-winefolly-pic

Wine and Cheese Poster

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

Buy Poster

Light Red Wine and Cheese

Light red wines like Pinot Noir and Beaujolais match up nicely with delicately flavored, washed-rind cheeses and nutty, medium-firm cheeses. Gruyere is a great example of nutty cheese, and Taleggio is a semi-soft, washed-rind cheese that is not overly intense. If you enjoy a softer style, try a soft-ripened cheese like Brie or Camembert.

pinot-noir-gruyere-comte-wine-cheese

A good rule of thumb to follow is, “the funkier the wine – the funkier the cheese.” A very rustic wine will do wonders when matched with an odoriferous cheese, and a sweet berry wine will beg for a cheese that’s well… cheesy.

More Light Red Wine & Cheese Pairings:

  • Gruyère – Comté Extra
  • Swiss
  • Raclette
  • Provolone
  • Caciocavallo
  • Saint-Nectaire
  • Pont L’Eveque
  • Ossau Iraty
  • Nocerino
  • Fontina
  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Coulommiers
  • Raschera
  • Taleggio

White Wine and Cheese

White wines typically match with a much wider array of cheeses than reds. This is because white wines have no tannin, making it much easier to match them together. If there’s one cheese that doesn’t match up too well with many white wines, it would be blue cheese. It tends to overwhelm. Here are a few classic pairings to consider:

sauvignon-blanc-wine-goat-cheese

In the Loire Valley, where Sauvignon Blanc originates, you can find many goat herds. The goat cheeses from the Loire aren’t as soft or as fresh as goat cheese in the US. French goat cheeses tend to be firmer with a chalk-like taste texture due to high calcium content. As they age, the cheese develops a spiciness that will match up fantastically with a Sauvignon Blanc or an unoaked Chardonnay (the Loire makes a few of these too!). Check out cheeses like Crottin de Chavignol or Humboldt Fog as great options for a white wine cheese.

prosecco-asiago-wine-cheese

Around Veneto, you’ll find Garganega (‘gar-GAN-neg-uh’), which makes the wines of Soave. Soave is crisp, like Sauvignon Blanc, with a slightly bitter almond note on the finish. This wine’s bitterness makes it a fascinating match with a young asiago (that’s not too firm). The aged versions of Asiago go surprisingly well with a fruity, off-dry Prosecco or Moscato d’Asti.

riesling-fondue-wine-cheese

Off-dry styles of Riesling, such as a German Riesling from the Mosel, match up wonderfully with fondue. The sweetness and acidity complement the nutty, robust fondue flavors and make everything taste delicately sweet and salty. Hungry yet?

chardonnay-brie-wine-cheese

Chardonnay tends to grow better in slightly cooler climates where it develops complex, floral and fruity smells that compliment oak-aged flavors of vanilla and toffee. Interestingly enough, washed-rind cow’s cheeses (like Époisses de Bourgogne) are made in the same regions where Chardonnay grows. They are a bit stinky with a pungent flavor from a mold developing on the cheese’s rind. Usually, you can identify them by their wrinkly orange rind. When matched with Chardonnay, the stinkiness goes away! Examples of this cheese style include Époisses de Bourgogne, Good Thunder (Alemar, seriously funky), and Red Hawk (Cow Girl Creamery). If you are a stinky cheese wuss, opt for a traditional triple cream cow’s cheese such as Delice de Bourgogne, Brie, or a fresh style Tomme.

 

Pairing Challenge: White wine is a great place to start when exploring cheese pairings as it’s very versatile. Try picking a wine you’re already familiar with and pairing it against a range of cheeses to see how they influence its flavor profile.

Think your palate is good enough to be a professional sensory analyst?


Dessert Wine Cheese Pairings

Europeans still serve the cheese course at the end of the meal (even after dessert). Perhaps there’s a method to this madness, because it’s one of the most inspired pairings known to cheese. Even the most pungent blue cheese transforms when matched with a vintage port.

port-silton-wine-cheese-pairings

The older the vintage port, the stinkier the blue cheese you can get. What happens as Vintage Port ages are the tannins soften, and the acidity lessens, revealing a much sweeter tasting wine. The sweetness of dessert wine complements and shapes a stinky cheese.


Wine and Cheese Poster (18x24) by Wine Folly

Wine & Cheese Poster

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


classic-wine-and-cheese-pairings

Up Next: Some Local Favorites

See some hyper-local wine and cheese pairings from France and Spain that can’t be missed!

4 Hyper-Local Wine and Cheese Pairings That Will Blow Your Mind

More Food and Wine Pairing Articles

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AboutMadeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

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