Wine and Cheese Pairing: 101

There’s a good reason that cheese is often paired with wine. There’s something about the complex flavors of both that can elevate the tasting experience beyond what either can do alone. So, does it matter which cheese you select with which wine? It can definitely make a big difference. But, it doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating if you remember a few key points.

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  • Fresh, soft cheeses often pair well with dry, white wines.
    • Brie
    • Goat
    • Mozzarella

First, notice that I qualify the categories by noting that a particular type of cheese may “often pair well.” The bottom line is that you are the master of your mouth and taste buds and you may completely disagree with this assessment. As you can clearly see in the above picture, I intentionally paired mozzarella with a red wine (dry red medium-bodied blend). Mozzarella, especially with a vinaigrette or in a Caprese salad, is especially pleasing to me with a nice Merlot. But, as a general rule, soft cheeses (often referred to as “fresh” cheeses that are not aged) pair nicely with white wine. Brie is aged for a short time, but only about four weeks typically (still considered fresh).

  • Blue Cheeses often pair well with semi-sweet or sweet wines.
    • Stilton
    • Gorgonzola
    • Blue

I know, I know. Some of you are thinking how you would never, ever let your lips touch a sweet wine. But, there is always a time and purpose for different types of wines. A crisp, but semi-sweet white wine, like a mild Riesling, can be perfect with a blue cheese. I added Stilton to the platter above in the white wine pairing and it was really nice with a semi-sweet white. There’s a bit of a bite that comes with blue cheeses and just a touch of sweetness can really balance the flavors. This concept works well with spicy foods, as well as cheeses. So, if you enjoy a jalapeño or other pepper cheese, give a semi-sweet or port wine a try with it.

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  • Aged, hard cheeses often pair well with red wines.

    • Gruyere
    • Gouda
    • Parmesan

Now, this is probably my favorite pairing. A bold red with an aged cheese is a teensy bit magical… and addicting. But, if you are solely a white drinker, Gruyere pairs nicely with Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, as well. Add a bit of jelly and I’m in heaven. I tried the Fig Orange Jelly below with Gruyere and a bold, red blend. It was tough not to just make this my entire dinner, even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, right?

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Feel free to let me know what you have found to be your favorite and follow along with my blog to join this journey through the love of all things wine.

Cheers – E

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I am a wine lover, mother of four, wife of a wine grape grower, and attorney at law. I also love impeccable style and all the bits of life in between.

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