Most of us leave wine and food pairings up to the professionals but the truth is it doesn’t need to be complicated, and there’s no better place to start than with some basic wine and cheese pairings. Like wine, cheese covers a huge spectrum of characteristics – young and old, hard or soft, nutty, buttery, or just plain stinky. It helps to keep a few things in mind when experimenting:
- Pair by flavor intensity – Older cheese bring strong flavor, and beg for a complimentary wine with enough body and structure, while young soft cheese is mild in flavor and needs a lighter body wine with more acidity and delicate stone fruit flavors.
- Salt loves sweet – Ripe, fruit-driven wines pair best with salty, tangy cheese like aged gouda.
- Accent with fruit & nuts – Take your pairing to the next level by adding some dried cranberries with honey and walnuts on top of your brie, or add some quince paste to your aged gouda.
- Consider the textures – There’s a yin and yang to pairing that goes beyond the flavor. For example, a creamy California style Chardonnay matches up nicely with a buttery triple creme cheese, the flavors complimenting each other. On the opposite end, the bubbles in a Champagne serve as a nice contrast to strong flavors in Camembert, helping to scrub the palate clean between bites.
Below you’ll find some ideas for basic pairing ideas using common types of cheese and wine.