Pairing cheese and wine is a time-honoured tradition that has evolved over centuries, resulting in a vast array of delightful combinations. The key to a successful pairing lies in balancing the flavours, textures, and characteristics of both the cheese and the wine. Here's our elaborate guide to help you understand the art of pairing cheese and wine and look like a connoisseur.
1. Consider the Basics:
Flavour Intensity: Start by considering the intensity of both the cheese and the wine. Light cheeses usually pair well with lighter wines, while strong cheeses go better with robust wines.
Texture: Cheese can be creamy, crumbly, or hard. Pair the texture of the cheese with the body of the wine. Creamy cheeses often complement wines with some acidity to cut through the richness.
Acidity: Acidic wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Champagne can provide a nice contrast to fatty or creamy cheeses.
Sweetness: Sweet wines like dessert wines can enhance the flavors of certain cheeses, particularly blue cheeses and some soft, creamy ones.
Tannins: Tannic red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon can pair well with aged, hard cheeses as the tannins help cut through the cheese's richness.
2. Pairing Specific Cheese Types:
Soft Cheeses: Cheeses like Brie, Camembert or Brillat Savarin, pair well with light, crisp white wines like Chardonnay or Champagne.
Semi-Hard Cheeses: Tommes and Morbier will make a perfect combination with light-bodied red wines, like Pinot Noir.
Hard Cheeses: Hard cheeses like Comté, Gruyere, and aged cheeses like Cantal Vieux or Parmigiano Reggiano, work beautifully with full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache.
Blue Cheeses: The salty and pungent nature of blue cheeses, like Roquefort or Shropshire Blue, is often balanced by sweet wines like Port or a late-harvest Riesling.
Goat Cheeses: The tartness of goat cheese, like Palet Blanc or Bouyguette, complements Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc.
Fresh Cheeses: Mozzarella and Burrata can be paired with light, acidic white wines like Pinot Grigio or a crisp Rosé.
3. Regional Pairings:
Consider pairing wines and cheeses from the same region. For example, Italian wines like Chianti go well with Parmigiano-Reggiano, both hailing from Italy.
4. Contrast and Complement:
You can either contrast or complement flavours. Contrasting involves pairing a wine that counterbalances the cheese's taste (e.g., a sharp cheese with a sweet wine). Complementing involves matching similar flavours and characteristics (e.g., a nutty cheese with an oaked Chardonnay).
5. Experiment and Personal Preference:
Ultimately, the best pairings can be highly subjective. Don't hesitate to experiment and trust your palate. Taste different cheeses with various wines to discover your own favorite combinations.
Don't forget about the accompaniments. Bread, crackers, fruits (like grapes or figues), nuts, honey and fruit paste can enhance the overall experience.
7. Temperature Matters:
Serve both the cheese and wine at the appropriate temperature. Most cheeses are best enjoyed at room temperature, while white wines are often served chilled, and red wines slightly below room temperature.
Remember that the pleasure of pairing cheese and wine lies in the exploration and discovery of new flavours and combinations. With a bit of knowledge and experimentation, you can create memorable tasting experiences that cater to your personal preferences and the occasion.
LPB Market Team