Why Theres Still Room For Port And Cheese Matching
Heres why these Ports will always have a place at our table alongside the cheese.
Vintage Port possesses extraordinary power, with deep fruit, spice, and chocolate. Full bodied with integrated tannin, vintage Port needs a powerful cheese to stand up to its strength. Anything mellow or subtle may get brushed aside.
Blue cheeses such as Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Fourme dAmbert are the classic candidates, but a well-aged, powerful cheddar can also work well. Terrific additions to the cheese board can make all the difference to the vinous pairing. Red grapes, dried red and black fruit and walnuts will add an extra dimension to a Port and blue cheese pairing.
Tawny Ports change flavour profile depending on their age at 10, 20 and 30 years old. The traditional 20 year-old version, which I will focus on, is usually sweeter with secondary characters coming to the fore. It is a superb alternative to other sweet dessert wines, such as Madeira or late harvest Riesling and Tokaji.
Mellow, rich and nutty, Tawny Port can be served slightly chilled and marries impressively well with salty, dry, hard cheeses, such as Parmigiano Reggiano , cheddar, Comté and Pecorino.
Like the vintage Port and blue cheese, accompany these hard cheeses with Membrillo and dried winter nuts. The sweetness of the Membrillo quince paste balances the sweetness of the Port, and the nut blends seamlessly with the aged nuttiness of the Port.
It’s Wine And Cheese Season
It’s officially Wine and Cheese season! And to help you eat and drink your way through it, I’m sharing the best wine and cheese pairings. We’ll start with some basic guidelines for How to Pair Wine and Cheese, go through some classic pairings, then share specific pairing examples using the wines and cheeses I tasted and picked up on my exploration of the Central Coast with California Wines during California Wine Month.
I know what you’re saying. “Every season is Wine and Cheese…” I know. Just like “every month is California Wine Month!” which if you’ve spent even 12 seconds around here, you know is absolutely true.
Ok, so hear me out.
image: outdoor gathering at Desparada Wines by James Collier for California Wines
Just like September is officially California Wine Month, Fall, when we have back-to-back-to-back gatherings with friends and family for any and every reason, is officially-ish Wine and Cheese season. Whether we’re back to school and work with friends, tailgating on the weekends, celebrating holidays, or as we’ve come to appreciate in the last two years, just being physically present with other people, a bottle or two or three of wine with a cheese board is the fastest, easiest, and cleanest way to setup, feed people, and keep conversation buzzing.
Keep reading for some Basic Guidelines for How to Pair Wine and Cheese, because you can’t just pop just any old bottle of wine and throw a couple random chunks of cheese on a plate.
Or can you???
Pinot Grigio And Mozzarella
Pinot Grigio has fruity flavors that include lime, pear, honeysuckle, and green apple. Pinot Grigios are less sweet than Chardonnays because they have such high acid content.
Mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese that has an elastic texture and tastes slightly sour. As it ages, it becomes softer, and the flavor becomes more delicate with notes of milk, which makes for great “meltability” in many dishes.
Pinot Grigio wine is an excellent match for soft cheese, like Mozzarella, since the acidic taste of this wine balances out the mild and sweet flavors in these cheeses to create an enjoyable pairing experience. Chevre also goes nicely with Pinot Grigio.
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Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc & Brie Cheese
With Brie Cheese, you can essentially serve any type of red wine, even heavier red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo, or Shiraz. The Brie Cheese will make these wines taste exceptional and smooth as the cheeses proteins and fat soften the wines tannin. Heavier red wines are not ideal for appetizers, where youll often find Brie, thus, reserve these reds for your main course, and save a little bit later for an after-dinner cheese platter with Brie.
Delicious Red Wine And Cheese Pairings
Cheese is the best accompaniment for red wines, but the success of this combination depends on how well the flavors of this two compliment each other.
Wine and cheese is a combination as old as bread and butter. Both wine and cheese have a very long history, and although wine connoisseurs claim some standard wine and cheese combinations, pairing cheese with wine still remains purely personal. Both are produced by processing two natural products, grapes, and milk, respectively. Each grape variety produces a unique wine that has its own characteristic color, flavor, strength, and aroma.
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The Best Red Wines To Pair With Cheeses Comes Down To Flavor Profiles
Everyone has a favorite red wine they absolutely love to drink and bring to parties. Of course, it’s essential to know which cheeses pair up best with your favorite wines. If you’re a pinot noir lover, you may want to stop and grab a wheel of gruyere. Gruyere works best with pinot noir because the wine has berry undertones and gruyere is a bit more nutty. Like we all love berries and nuts mixed together, these two cheeses are a perfect pair . Another wine and cheese pairing that gives off the berries and nuts flavors are malbec and gouda.
Cabernet sauvignon and aged cheddar are also great wine and cheese pairing for a dinner party or even a romantic night in. Cabernet sauvignon is a dryer wine, which is why it’s great with aged cheddar a fattier, more bodied cheese. The flavor of the cheddar works well to give the cabernet sauvignon a bit more umph. Tempranillo and idiazabal are both a Spanish wine and a Spanish cheese, which is a great way to open your tastes buds for texture and flair.
Next time you go to your girlfriend’s charcuterie party, impress them with one of these couples!
How To Eat Cheese With Wine
Pour your glasses of wine. Serve your cheese whole with the appropriate cheese knifes alongside slices of baguette or crackers . Thats really all you need!
To eat your cheese while enjoying your wine, theres no need to overthink it. The best approach is to take a piece of cheese, place it or spread it on your bread, and take a bite. Enjoy your cheese, then take a sip of the wine. The wine will complement the cheese, cut its creaminess or savoriness depending on the type of cheese and the wine. The flavors of the wine and cheese are both enhanced when enjoyed simultaneously. Youll keep wanting another bite and another sip, on repeat until youre out of both cheese and wine!
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All For One One For All
If all that sounds too complex, and you just want one wine to match a whole cheeseboard, Basset advises that you look to fortified wines the ultimate after-dinner companion.
I would immediately suggest amontillado Sherry, Rivesaltes, tawny Port or Madeira. They work very well with all cheeses as they arent too delicately flavoured and their taste profile is similar to the accompaniments you will serve with the cheese: nuts, dried fruit, the spices in chutney. Plus, they are crowd-pleasing wines.
What Wine Pairs Best With Fresh Cheeses
Fresh Cheeses are any of the cheeses like goat chÃ¨vre, fromage blanc, and ricotta, which are made with little to no pressing/shaping nor aging. They are generally eaten within a few days. Fresh cheeses are soft and spreadable, and are often stored in containers with lids, as opposed to wrapped in plastic or paper. Cheeses that hold their own shape like burrata, mozzaralla, and feta are considered fresh cheeses as well. Because fresh cheeses are not aged, they are mild in flavor, though not necessarily in saltiness. Feta, one of my all-time favorite cheeses for just about anything, is an example of a fresh cheese that can be salty.
Though the type of milk and where the cheese is from/made will affect the flavor and specific pairing, in general, fresh cheeses fall into the “pair similar with similar” guideline. Pair mild, fresh cheeses with light-bodied, bright, crisp, fresh wines like sparkling wines, rosÃ©, sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, and other white wines with summer, tropical, melon, and citrus fruit flavors. Goat cheese and sauvignon blanc is an unshakeable classic pairing.
Central Coast Cheese Pairing: Stepladder Creamery Fromage Blanc or their goat chÃ¨vre
image: Amanda McCrossin and Field Recordings Domo Arigato by James Collier
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Aged Port And Blue Stilton
Why it works: is known for its full body, sweetness, and bold character. And when youre dealing with all that, you need a cheese to match: something stinky. The complex character of a pungent and salty Blue Stilton matches up beautifully with an older, sweeter Port. Remember: the sweeter the wine, the stinkier the cheese.
Also try: and Beenleigh Blue, and Torta del Casar, or and Roquefort.
Serve Sweet Red Wines With Salty Cheeses
Pairing like with like is one route to the perfect pairing, but bringing opposites together can be another. Thats why we traditionally pair sweet red wines with salt-forward varieties.
Sweet reds run the gamut from light and fizzy to heavy and rich, but this rule still holds whether youre sipping a juicy, sparkling Lambrusco or a smooth, velvety port.
Pair sweet red wines with blue cheeses like Bayley Hazen Blue and even blue-bloomy hybrids like Cambozola, Firefly Farms Mountain Top Bleu, or Tulip Trees double-cream Chicory Blue. Bubbly sweet reds are perfect to pair with bloomy rinds like Nettle Meadows triple-cream Kunik. Theyre also great with dense, salty Italian cheeses like Pecorino, Romano, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
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Sparkling Wine And Baby Swiss
Champagne, Prosecco, and other sparkling wines have a delicate balance of flavors: typically citrus, apple, vanilla, or toast. The flavor profile will vary depending on the quality level. Prosecco is lighter with fruit flavors that stay in your mouth after drinking.
Baby Swiss cheese is famous for having a creamier texture and milder flavor with hints of sweetness and nuttiness. The size of the holes in regular Swiss cheeses determines their intensity larger eyes mean more pronounced flavors, ranging from slightly sweet to tangy or sharp depending on how long they have aged.
Baby Swiss brings a smooth, creamy mouthfeel that blends seamlessly with the already light and bubbly Champagne. The sharp bubbles of the Champagne create an unforgettable sparkling sensation that makes you want more. Sparkling wine also pairs well with Colby and Muenster.
How To Make Cheese Sound Gross And Uncool
When wine writers talk about cheese, they tend to focus on sounding obnoxious. This quote is sadly too typical.
Cheese has an excellent reputation its enjoyed worldwide and is known as a perfect companion to late-night conversations and a snack for all hours, every day. Like wine, cheese always has a place on the table, which makes the ability to pair wine with cheese an excellent skill to have in your repertoire.
To understand how wine and cheese pairings work, lets talk briefly about the different cheeses around and the wines that go best with them.
Cheese is a dairy product made by coagulating the proteins in milk to separate and press them into solids. In fact, there are so many types of cheese that its hard to define.
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Why You Should Always Pair Cheese With White Wine Not Red
When we think of a wine and cheese party we automatically think of red wine, but in fact white wine is actually a much better partner for many types of cheese. Read on to find out more about perfect cheese and wine pairings.
Admittedly, for most people red wine is the go-to partner for cheese. However, the issue with red wine, especially a full-bodied red, is that it can overpower all but the most robust of cheeses. White wine, fortified wines and lighter red wines are often a much better match.
What about Port and Stilton?
You might rightly point out that Port is a red wine and has long been considered the ideal wine with Stilton, an English blue veined cheese. The reason that Port pairs so well with blue cheese is because it is sweet and fortified. It is not because it is red. The sweetness provides a perfect foil for the tangy saltiness of blue cheese.
As an alternative to Port, try blue veined cheeses with other sweet wines such as Sauternes, Tokaji, Icewine as well as any German or Austrian late harvest wine.
Chardonnay with Creamy Camembert and Brie Style Cheeses
Champagne, Prosecco or any good quality New World sparkling wine are other great options with Creamy cheese.
Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese
Chenin Blanc, dry Riesling or Semillon are other good alternatives to Sauvignon Blanc with goat cheese.
Gewürztraminer with Stinky Cheese
Red Wines with Strong, Firm Cheese
Madeira and Sheep Cheese
Wine and Cheese: Perfection vs. Practicality
Perfect Wine And Cheese Pairings
Wine and cheese have gone hand in hand for centuries, but with todays ever-increasing options for both wines and cheeses, the pairing decisions can be staggering. So, to take a lot of the guesswork out of pairing here is a handy guide to give you a starting point for pairing your favorite wines with soon-to-be favored cheese.
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Protip: Consider Age And Intensity
All of cheese-dom lies along a continuum from fresh through hard-aged. Young fresh cheeses have a high water content and a milky and delicate texture. As a cheese ages, a process called affinage, the moisture in its body slowly evaporates, leaving behind fat and protein. Since fat and protein carry flavors, older cheeses tend to be more rich and savory.
In addition to drying and concentrating the cheese, age also introduces new flavors. Bloomy-rind cheeses like Brie remain gooey and spreadable, but have picked up earthy notes from a few months in the cave. Older cheeses like Gruyère and Emmental acquire nutty flavors. Blue cheeses develop pungency from the mold in their veins. Washed-rind cheeses like Époisses earn a funky, bacon-y redolence that you either love or hate.
Like cheeses, wines also run the gamut from delicate to bold, and their depth and complexity can correlate with their age, too. Young wines are fresh and spirited, with lively aromas and bright flavors of fruits, flowers, citrus, herbs, or spice. Wines that have spent time in cask or bottle have had a chance to knit together and acquire more nuance. In addition to their primary fruit flavors, they take on secondary notes of oak, toast, earth, oxidation, minerals, umami, and more. Like cheeses, these wines tend to be more complex and savory than their younger counterparts.
The Last Word On How To Pair Wine And Cheese
So there you have it.
Five thousand words later and does it seem like there are a LOT of things to consider on both sides of the wine and cheese equation?
There are. And it might be tempting at this point to just throw your hands in the air with a big FU and just drink wines you like with cheeses you like. To this kind of attitude I say… f yeah!
If there’s one moral of the Paso Robles story that I learned from all the winemakers, it’s this: it’s important to know the rules, but when you bend them a little, try something new, follow your instincts, that’s when the real magic happens.
One of the best things about building a cheese board with several different cheeses, different kinds of fresh and dried fruits, nuts, olives, pickled things, and condiments, and a couple of bottles of wine is that you can experiment with pairings. Not only can you try different combinations of wine and cheese, but you can use the accompanying fruits and nuts to help you “find” certain flavors, tastes, and aromas in the cheese and the wine.
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Wine And Cheese Pairing Guide And Chart
Annie is a sommelier and wine educator who has worked with winemakers in North America, Europe, and New Zealand. She also works as a wine consultant for shops and restaurants.
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As with all food and wine pairings, taste is subjective and there are no hard and fast rules on what to drink with what. There are, however, a few wine and cheese pairings that complement each other particularly well when considering texture, fat, acidity, and salt. Learn what makes those fan favorites so good and how to craft your own wine and cheese pairings for a dreamy mouthful.
White Wine How To Pair With Cheese
While red wine is statistically more popular than white wine, cheese does not discriminate! If white wine is your bag, box, or bottle, learn how opposites attract when it comes to cheese pairings.
- Chardonnay cheese pairing the worlds top white wine, Chardonnay turns out to be a perfect match with Cellos signature Copper Kettle cheese. This full-bodied, crisp wine pronounces the cheeses caramel finish for a truly decadent treat. Seeking a soft cheese option? Consider a fresh, young chèvre with its mild, buttery flavor to balance Chardonnays oaky finish.
- Pinot Grigio cheese pairing as a dry, fruity wine, Pinot Grigio finds itself in need of a non-confrontational companion! Mozzarella turns out to be a match, with a mild, delicate flavor. Other fresh, young cheeses like cheddar and gouda offer a nutty profile, perfect for your Pinot!
- Champagne cheese pairing does champagne give you that bubbly feeling? Let that lightness pair with fattier, more decadent cheeses. We suggest mascarpone or goat cheese, or perhaps colby cheese for that desired savory-sweet combo.
- Riesling cheese pairing if you love Riesling, perhaps its because of this wines extreme versatility. From super sweet to super dry, this wine varies as much as the cheeses it complements. For the sweet Riesling, consider an aged gouda or Gorgonzola drier Rieslings pair well with brie and ricotta.
Check out this pairing chart, summarizing how to pair cheese with your favorite white wine:
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