The 10 Best Wine With Cheese Combinations
I’m generally of the opinion that as long as there is a glass of wine in my hand, any cheese to enjoy alongside it is welcome. However, you can put a bit more effort into choosing the best wine with cheese combinations. By doing the right research, and knowing what your palate likes from a food and drink pairing perspective, you can find the ideal mix of taste profiles to match items perfectly, enhancing the flavor and complexity of each when put together.
The following best wine with cheese combinations creates a simple to remember guide for you when considering what to purchase and provides some examples for you to draw on when making a pairing decision.
Cheese and Red Wine
When pairing red wines with cheeses, it’s crucial to think of the tannins in wine when creating the ideal combination. Tannins are responsible for the strong, drying sensation in your mouth when drinking red wine, and work to contrast the opposing elements in cheese to provide complexity and depth of flavor.
Generally speaking, a stronger cheese will mean it goes better with full-bodied heavy tannin red wine. Examples of these wines include merlot, cabernet sauvignon, malbec, and syrah. If your preference is for a creamier soft cheese – such as brie, camembert, or Roquefort – then finding a lighter-bodied red wine with finer tannins, such as a pinot noir or zinfandel will work a lot better.
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Cabernet Sauvignon – Pecorino, Swiss Gruyere
Pecorino is a hard Italian sheep’s milk cheese that is generally aged for up to a year with a strong flavor and yellow rind. Swiss Gruyere has a similar taste profile despite being a cow’s milk cheese.
Either option is a quality hard cheese to match with the rich and complex cabernet sauvignon, as it cuts across the tannins to deliver a full flavor without compromising the subtlety of either the wine or cheese.
1. Stonestreet Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (2017)
The Stonestreet Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a quality bottle with the winery’s interesting personality in the bottle for you to taste. It’s a great choice for the wine drinker looking for a rich mid-priced cab sav to enjoy with a stronger cheese, or one with a nutty flavor.
Zinfandel – Blue Cheese, Roquefort, or Gorgonzola
The distinctive smelling, crumbly blue cheese tends to create a sharp and salty taste. The recognizable smell comes from mold and the types of bacteria encouraged to grow on the cheese.
Roquefort and gorgonzola are both rich variations on the aroma and flavor of blue cheese, but with a much less crumbly make up. Zinfandel is a fruitier red wine with fine tannins which works well in combination with this type of cheese, as it allows the richness to peek through without being overpowering.
2. Opaque Zinfandel (2016)
Opaque Zinfandel is an inexpensive red wine that offers ripe flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, and black cherry, but with a lovely touch of oak and leather that evens out the sweeter flavor.
Syrah – Gouda, Aged Cheddar, or Parmesan
The biggest and boldest red wine flavors come from the syrah (or shiraz) grape, with its heavy tannins creating a thick, bombastic flavor often enjoyed with red meat. Pairing syrah with sharp hard cheese is the best way to go in order to contrast a mix of strong peppery and smoky flavors on your palate.
3. Orin Swift Machete Syrah (2018)
This bottle could be horrible but I’d still buy it – there’s a beautiful woman with a large blade on the label. However, this offering from Orin Swift is a bold, flavorful shiraz offering versatility and is great for pairing with quality cow’s milk cheese or a semi-hard cheese with a nutty flavor.
Malbec – Emmental (Swiss Cheese) or Feta
My personal favorite red wine variety, Malbec grapes originally hail from Argentina. They are a perfect mix of rich, bold fruit flavors, but lack the heavier tannins of merlot or syrah.
Malbec makes great cheese pairs for semi-soft cheese such as Emmental (Swiss cheese) or goat’s cheese. The salt of the semi-soft cheese helps amplify the fruit in the wine, rather than being washed away by a dry mouthfeel.
4. Altamana Grande Reserve Malbec (2017)
Versatility is the order of the day with this Malbec from the Maule Valley in Chile. Bright, well-matched flavors, a medium body, and tannins help it blend beautifully with a range of cheeses that can cover soft-ripened cheese through to firm, stronger flavors such as parmesan.
Pinot Noir – Most Cheeses
The versatility and high acidity of many pinot noir varieties make it the perfect wine for camouflage, offering a medium body and tannins. Pinot noir works with your favorite cheese, from aged cheddar to soft-ripened cheese types, such as bocconcini, mozzarella, and Havarti.
5. Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (2018)
This pinot noir features dark fruit and cassis jam with just a touch of vanilla. The palate is rich and well balanced – bright with flecks of spice and tobacco taste from oak barrels amongst the dark stone fruit flavors.
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Cheese and White Wine
White wine flavor runs the gamut of dry and light through to rich and sweet, with most varieties being more popular when served chilled. Popular white wine varieties include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, riesling, and pinot gris/pinot grigio, with most being suited to enjoying when combined with the wide variety of cheeses available. As tannins are fewer, your cheese and wine pairing will depend a lot on the wine’s sweetness, acidity, and minerality when contrasting the firmness and flavor of the cheese.
Chardonnay – Most Cheeses
As a rule of thumb, you can’t go wrong with pairing chardonnay with cheese. A good bottle of chardonnay offers certainty with wine pairing due to its high-level acidity and its richness of texture.
An oaked chardonnay with vanilla flavors works brilliantly to complement a semi-soft goat cheese, creamy camembert, mild cheddar, or brie. A classic unoaked chardonnay complements the more angular saltiness of a firm cheese such as gouda or edam.
6. Ramey Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay (2018)
The Ramey Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay is the ideal complement to most cheeses. It offers the balance of power and elegance on the palate by fusing floral aromas, citrus, and tropical fruit flavors, aided by the woody influence of French oak.
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris – Camembert, Brie, or Castellano Blue
Wine fermented from the pinot gris (also known as pinot grigio) features the boldness, acidity, and structure that makes for a great cheese pairing.
Pinot grigio is the perfect wine for a cheese platter of sweet, soft, and mild creamy cheese, such as camembert, brie, or even Castellano blue. When paired with sharp or stronger aged cheese, its structure tends to get lost.
7. King Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Gris (2019)
The 2018 pinot grigio selection is mineral-rich and redolent of summer fruit flavors like peach, mandarin orange, and pear, with just a touch of lemon acidity.
Sauvignon Blanc – Jarlsberg, Muenster, or Aged Gouda
Sauvignon blanc is an amazingly layered, rich white wine that falls almost perfectly between dry and sweet. Popular in the Southern Hemisphere – especially New Zealand and Australia – its light, fruity profile combined with rich minerality and high acidity makes sauvignon blanc a good match for buttery cheese and French cheese in the soft to semi-soft range.
8. Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (2020)
I strongly believe New Zealand sauvignon blanc is the premier version of the grape at all price points, and it’s a wine that works tremendously with fresh cheeses. Cloudy Bay is an inexpensive vintage but one with great versatility, featuring nectarine and stone fruit flavors against crisp acidity that is a hallmark of the sauvignon blanc grape.
Moscato – Soft Flavored Cheeses
Moscato is primarily considered a dessert wine, pairing wonderfully with berries and stone fruits, but it is also a great counterpoint to spicy foods, nutty cheese, and flavored cheeses that may introduce herbs, pepper, and chili. It goes down easily being a light, sweet wine, with a lower percentage of alcohol by volume, and is an excellent accompaniment to a mild cheese brunch, as a terrific aperitif, or to finish off a fine meal.
9. Saracco Moscato d'Asti 2020
Saracco is a lightly sparkling, aromatic Moscato, laden with fruity accents and citrus. It is complex in its sweetness, with a medium body that contrasts nicely between sweetness and acidity.
Rose Wine – Feta, Halloumi, Mozzarella, or Comte
Rose is one of the highest growth sectors of the wine market because it is light, easy to drink, and attractive in taste, with a gentle sweetness and good levels of acidity that tend to straddle the distance between red and white wine.
Rose pairs well with fresh cheese, particularly those salty cheese types accompanying barbecued meats and simple salads. Halloumi, feta, and comte (a cheese akin to gruyere but with a buttery texture) all work well with the companionable “lunchtime” wine.
10. Chateau d'Esclans Rock Angel Rose 2019
This Chateau d’Esclans bottle offers the aroma and flavor of summer fruits, strawberry, and grapefruit balanced by crisp acidity, and the accent of minerals. Rock Angel is a bold sweet wine to explore, especially if you wish to pair your rose with a wide-ranging dinner menu or delicate cheese platter.
While many different cheese and wine options work well together, being able to discern the best combinations to maximize flavor and taste can separate the very best pairing from a mediocre one. Most importantly, working with your own palate to find the best wine with cheese combinations will expand your knowledge base, but also provide you with some tasty fun while doing so.
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