Do you know what wine goes with cheddar cheese? How about a stinky blue or a creamy brie? Read on for our expert guide to classic wine and cheese pairings – as well as a few unexpected matches.
In a world of wonderful food and drink combinations, wine and cheese pairings may very well be the perfect partnership. But are there rules when it comes to nibbling on cheddar with Chablis, or munching on Manchego with merlot?
“For years, we’ve been told that when it comes to pairing cheese with wine, red is the way to go,” says Claire Horsfield, state marketing and sales coordinator for Moët Hennessy Australia and New Zealand. “Like everything, what you eat and sip together is a matter of personal taste. These days, people are happy to step away from tradition and get a little adventurous.”
Bubbles and cheese ideas
In Claire’s eyes, there are a few standout bedpartners: “I love to drink a bright sparkling wine or Champagne with a softer style of fromage, perhaps goat’s cheese or a not-too-oozy brie or even a subtle blue – nothing too ‘smelly’ as you don’t want to overpower the subtleness of your drink,” she says. “A chunk of parmesan – nothing heavily aged – with a top-shelf Champagne is also amazing.”
Goat’s cheese, blue cheese and brie cheese pair well with Champagne as the acidity of the bubbles cuts through the creaminess of the cheese, explains Claire. Sauvignon blanc is an ideal partner for the same reason.
Light white wines
Try uniting a glass of fruit-forward chardonnay with a velvety, gooey brie – in this instance, the creaminess of the cheese complements the fuller flavour of the wine. For lighter whites (pinot grigio, for instance) opt for something soft and rich, like ricotta, which is not overly pungent and won’t consume the delicate notes of the wine. “We often underestimate just how well Champagnes and white wines harmonise with cheeses,” says Claire.
Best cheese with red wine
You can’t go wrong with classic wine and cheese pairings, for example teaming a robust red such as a cabernet sauvignon or shiraz with a cheese that is equally as punchy. A classic red is by far the best wine to pair with an aged cheddar cheese; the dryer tannins of these wines cut through the mouth-rounding fattiness of this bold mould. If you like your shiraz with hints of tobacco, try a glass with smoked hard cheeses such as gouda or cheddar.
More delicate reds like pinot noir call for equally delicate cheeses such as Comte or Gruyere, both of which can have sweet and salty undertones and notes of hazelnuts. If you can’t find these French and Swiss styles, pick up a brie or washed-rind cheese instead – the latter have a particularly intense aroma, but most are surprisingly mild in flavour.
Read more: Discover expert wine cellar tips
Dessert wine and cheese pairings
What about that stinky blue? The intense and complex characters of stilton, Roquefort and gorgonzola chesses tend to match best with sweeter wines, says Claire, which is why fortified and dessert wines are often poured alongside them at the end of a meal. Sip a glass of port, sweet sherry or sauterne and enjoy with the stinkiest wedge you can find.
Actually, says Claire, a wedge is probably too much. “You only need a small cube of cheese with each sip, regardless of style and varietal. Taking a nibble allows both the wine and cheese to dance in your mouth and develop – they have time to complement each other.”
Wine, cheese and fruit pairings
Don’t forget to consider your condiments when embarking on your wine and cheese pairing endeavours. “Adding pear or apple on the side of your cheese board adds a lot,” says Claire. “Think about it: effervescent bubbles of Champagne, creamy cheese and crunchy fruit. All those wonderful textures and flavours in a mouthful – bliss.”
Get your tickets to the Wine, Cheese & Bubbles event at Treasury Brisbane, April 30th 2021. Buy Tickets.