Wine & Cheese Pairing

When setting up a tasty wine and cheese pairing, the only thing you have to know is: If it tastes good, do it!

I'm sure you've heard all the fancy chefs giving their two cents about what cheese works with which wine; however, when it comes down to it, it's all about personal taste.

When paired up, wine and cheese do their part to bring out the best in each other, and even the experts can't agree on any absolutes in the wine and cheese pairing match game. Even though it comes down to personal taste, certain guidelines have been proven favorable by a majority of enthusiasts. Here are some of those basic truths:

  • White wines match best with soft cheeses and stronger flavors.
  • Red wines match best with hard cheeses and milder flavors.
  • Fruity and sweet white wines (not dry) and dessert wines work best with a wider range of cheeses.
  • The more pungent the cheese you choose, the sweeter the wine should be.

When offering several cheese choices in a wine and cheese pairing spread, white wines fair better than reds. That's because several cheeses, particularly soft and creamy ones, leave a layer of fat on the palate that interferes with the flavor in reds, rendering them monotonous and bland.

Quite the opposite, most of those sweeter whites nicely complement a full range of cheeses. Additionally, the "sparkle" in a sparkling wine or champagne can help break through the fat in heavier cheeses. Therefore, the spicy zing of a Gewurztraminer or the peachy zip of a Riesling is ideal if you're going for wide-reaching appeal.

If you're a cheese adventurist, meaning you go for the stinkiest of cheeses, pick a big wine to back it up. Try a French Bordeaux or a buxom California Cab. Ports and dessert wines are your best choice if you like mold-donned or blue-veined cheeses.

For a safer bet when serving several wines, choose Parmigiano or Romano cheeses. They go with most wines.

wine pairings

Here are a few tips for setting up a memorable and fun wine and cheese pairing party for your friends:

  • Purchase your cheeses in large wedges for an ideal presentation.
  • Cheeses should be served at room temperature. Pull them out of the fridge a couple hours before your party.
  • Serve most wines fairly cool - whites between 50-55 degrees and reds between 60-65 degrees.
  • Let your reds breathe 15-20 minutes after you open them.
  • Make handwritten name cards for all your cheeses and use a pretty upside-down fork display the card upright in the cheese.
  • Display cheese on a pretty china platter, a wood cheese board, or even a slab of marble.

Ultimately, the perfect wine and cheese pairing is not a match made in heaven. It is a match made on the palates of individuals of all tastes.

Start with some basics and then rebel into the unfamiliar. You never know which couple will end up to be your choice dynamic duo.