Happy New Year! It’s time to have some fun with two of our favorite foods: wine and cheese. In this article, we’ll review best practices for pairing wine and cheese. It’s important to keep in mind that all pairing tips are guidelines. I love to experiment and be adventurous. The worst that can happen is you discover an awful pairing. A good learning! It’s fun to dig down and try to understand why the two might not be a good combination.
Guidelines for Pairing Wine and Cheese
Here are some best practices for pairing wine and cheese:
- Match intensities. Pair whites with soft cheeses and reds with hard cheeses. Pair lower alcohol wines with milder tasting cheeses and higher alcohol wines with more intensely flavored cheeses.
- Pair big, bad reds with aged cheeses. Aged cheeses are richer in flavor and fattiness, which are perfect for a big red.
- The more stinky the cheese, the sweeter the wine. The sweetness of the wine softens the stinkiness of the cheese, and the stinkiness of the cheese mellows out the wine’s sweetness.
- Be careful not to eat too much cheese with red wine. Some cheeses leave a layer of fat on the palate, which interferes with the flavor in reds, making the wine and cheese taste monotonous and bland. I’ve had this happen a few times, because I love wine and cheese so much, and it was very depressing. I now try to be more careful about how much cheese I consume with red wine.
Some of My Favorite Pairings
One of my favorite pairings is port with bleu cheese. Port’s sweetness and thick body are perfect for pungent, crumbly bleu cheese.
Another favorite is parmesan chunks drizzled with honey paired with a white Bordeaux or white Meritage (Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon). The cheese’s saltiness pairs beautifully with the crispness of the Sauvignon Blanc. The honey pairs beautifully with the honey notes that are typical in Semillon.
Another pairing that I love is a dessert wine with a savory dish that includes nuts, dried fruit and Stilton cheese.
If I can’t think of a good pairing, I put out a Sparkling Wine, since Sparkling Wine seems to work with just about everything.
I would love to hear about your favorite wine and cheese pairings.
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