Wine with cheese is one of the great culinary marriages and like most successful marriages, is more complex than would first appear. Are you a ‘red wine with cheese person’? Well it may surprise to know that in general white wines make better partners to cheese. Also, did you know that cheese actually makes the palate more sensitive to certain flavours in the wine?
One of the most popular white grape varieties Sauvignon Blanc, particularly from New Zealand and Loire Valley in France, with goat’s cheese makes an excellent combination. The fruity, grassy flavours and crisp acidity of the wine the dry slightly sour flavour of the cheese.
Chardonnay actually goes with more types of cheese than other wine. Creamy cheeses, notably Camembert and brie work well with the flavours and of Chardonnay while the wine’s acidity cuts the fat in the cheese. Why not try cooler climate Chardonnays from Victoria in Australia or Colchagua Valley, Chile their naturally crispness as well as a classic white Burgundy.
Also good quality Cava, Prosecco and Champagne work well with creamy cheese.
The aromatic, slightly soft Tronchón cheese from Valencia made from goat or sheep milk goes well with red wine made from Merlot or a white made from Merseguera.
If you like smoked cheese, such as a smoked gauda, a good choice of wine would be an oak aged Shiraz. The wines flavours and structure will complement the smokey cheese.
As I am writing this I am enjoying a glass of Humberto Canales Cabernet Franc from Patagonia in Argentina with a cured cheese from Navarra made from sheep’s milk. This is an elegant, well balanced wine with flavours of ripe black berries, vanilla, coffee and a lingering bitterness that makes it a perfect partner for this cheese with it’s slightly smokey, nutty flavours and tart acidity.
Which wine works best with a hard cheese like a semi cured Manchego, Cheddar from the UK or Pecorino from Italy? You don’t need to look further than a good Tempranillo, Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon.
For a younger style of hard cheese choose a lighter style of wine, it could be lighter style of red like a Pinot Noir or a young fruity Garnacha. Lighter wines from these grape varieties also make good partners to medium firm cheeses such as Gruyere.
What about stronger stinky cheese like Cabrales from Asturias, Roquefort or Stilton? A vintage Port has the sweetness, raisiny, spicy flavours to complement the stronger flavours and tangy acidity of theses cheese. Another choice is Sauterne, one of the worlds classic sweet wines.
As I always say, taste different wines to find the styles your prefer, likewise experiment and work out which wine and cheese pairings you prefer and work best for you.