We firmly believe, it is important to drink and eat what you love and what tastes good to you. For many the task of wine and cheese matching gets way too complicated. It doesn’t have to be. There are many different types of wines that can be paired with cheese so it’s hard to mess it up! Also like wine, it comes down to personal taste, so there are no wrong answers. However, there are certain guidelines when it comes to wine and cheese that are worth taking into consideration.
Here are some of the basics:
- White wines match best with soft cheeses and stronger flavours.
- Red wines match best with hard cheeses and milder flavours.
- Fruity and sweet white wines (not dry) and dessert wines work best with a wider range of cheeses.
- The more ‘smelly’ the cheese you choose, the sweeter the wine should be.
If you always go for the stinkiest of cheeses, (my favourite) pick a big wine to back it up. Try a Cabernet or a Bordeaux blend. Dessert wines are a great choice if you like blue-veined cheeses. In fact, an incredible combination to try is blue cheese, honeycomb and a luscious dessert wine. Spectacular, trust me!
Wine and cheese matching does take some thought but doesn’t have to be complicated. Remember there is no rule book. Taste is, after all, a matter of personal preference. If you’re looking for some guidelines, this is a handy infographic to walk you through which wines pair best with which cheeses.
The most simple way to approach matching cheese and wine is to think about harmony. You don’t want to overpower the flavour of one with the other, but to bring out the best of each other. They should have a similar intensity. They should strike a balance. The fun is in experimenting and discovering what you like.
Pairing By Type
A general rule says that hard cheeses should be paired with red wines while soft cheeses should be paired with whites. This is a great place to begin – since harder cheeses tend to be stronger in flavour, they do need bigger-bodied red wines.
Another method is based on the cheese’s source of milk. Fresh goat’s milk cheeses match well with crisp white wines like Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc. Sheep’s milk cheeses pair up with Gewurztraminer, and aged cow’s milk cheeses, like Cheddar, go with full-bodied wines.
Pairing By Texture
If you want to step it up a notch then next you can try wine and cheese matches by texture. A few simple tips:
- Select the wine according to the style or texture of the cheese.
- Blue Cheese: This pairs well with sweet or slightly sweet wines. If you’re in the mood for red, try a Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Fresh Cheese: Cheeses like Mozzarella and Feta are mild and versatile.They pair almost all white wines, including Sauvignon Blanc. As for reds, stick with lighter, fruitier varieties like Pinot Noir.
- Hard or Aged Cheese: Cheddar, Gouda, and Parmesan are the ultimate cheeses to pair with bolder red wines.
- Soft-Ripened Cheese: Luscious cheeses like Brie and Camembert go with everything from light whites (Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris) to fruity reds (Merlot). But sparkling wine is the best! The bubbles cut right through the cheese’s creaminess, refreshing the palate for every precious bite.
Madeleine from Wine Folly has a number great blog posts to simplify wine and food matching. She created this one as a great overview of which cheese to match with which wine. It’s a handy reference to kick start your journey.
So there you have a few guidelines for wine and cheese matching. We are very lucky in New Zealand to have an incredible selection of award winning cheeses. So why not create your very own magnificent combinations. Be sure to let us know if you come up with anything that you love. And most important of all, remember to have fun doing it!
And if all else fails and it’s just not fun, then you could check out this idiot’s guide to pairing wine with cheese or else just sit back and enjoy the wine by itself!
If you want to explore the world of New Zealand cheese, then the event all cheese lovers salivate over is back in 2016. Countdown CheeseFest will be hosted at The Langham Auckland’s Great Room, on WEDNESDAY 2 MARCH, 2016. Tickets available from December 2015!
This event is the ultimate New Zealand cheese experience, giving you a unique opportunity to enjoy free samples of our country’s top cheese as part of the 2016 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards.