Pairing Wine and Cheese

Monday, July 23rd, 2007 at 12:00 am

wine and cheeseRead a label from any red wine bottle and you’ll always see a recommendation saying that the wine is good with "all cheeses". Have you ever wondered why this is so? For centuries, this traditional pairing of red wine, or any kind of wine for that matter, and cheese has always been seen as all natural. It’s considered a classic combination which for years has been romanticized in novels and poems, in theaters and movies. 

The reason probably lies on the flavor. When paired with each other, both wine and cheese will retain their own distinct flavors with neither one masking the other. Regardless of the wine or the kind of cheese, it is guaranteed that you will taste the individual flavor and texture of the cheese independent of the flavor and texture of the wine. Another reason might be because both are products of fermentation which can result to having very similar or familiar foundations on taste and standards.

However, pairing the right kind of wine to the right kind of cheese is not as easy a task that one might think. On the contrary, it can be a very arduous task and you can end up downing a whole bottle of wine just figuring out which cheese would be the best one to go with it. Judging the combination is also highly subjective. So don’t go expecting that your personal choice of cheese will be accepted by peers or fellow wine connoisseurs.

Nevertheless, there are some basic guidelines for pairing wines and cheeses which have been a result of numerous experimentations. Again these are mere guidelines and are not strict codes that will dictate how you drink your wine. Conduct your own experimentations and see what pairing is best for your taste.

Generally, however, hard cheeses taste well when paired with wines that have the higher the degree of tannin. The harder the cheese the more tannic the red wine should be. This is actually a broad generalization but has proved to be accurate in a number of times. For whites, the usual choice of cheese are the creamy ones. And this time, the whiter the cheese the crispier and fruitier the choice of wine should be. Also, it seems most wine experts are in agreement that hard cheeses are more versatile than creamier ones, and that high-acid white wines are the most adaptable type of wines.

Specifically, dry white wines that are light to medium bodied such as Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, non-oaked Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Lighter Champagne or Sparkling wines are best paired with fresh cream based cheese with no rind like mozzarella cheese, fontina, chevre, crottin, Ricotta, Monterey Jack, Barbu, and Knockalara.

Wines like Bordeaux Reds, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz, Malbec, Ribera del Duero, and Grenache or any full bodied dry red seems to work well with waxed or oiled hard cheeses the likes of which include Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Ricotta Salata, Romano, Old Gouda, Old Cheddar, Aged Chesire, Iberico, Mahon, and Roncal.