Whether you’re planning your first Christmas cheeseboard or just need a bit of guidance on finding the right wine and cheese for that perfect after-dinner treat, we’ve come up with a handy cheese and wine pairing guide to give you a helping hand!
Which comes first – the wine or the cheese? Generally, it’s always best to select your cheese first and then the oh-so-enjoyable task of finding the ideal wine comes afterwards. Think of your cheese as the centrepiece and the role of the wine is to complement its delicious flavours. In this guide, we’ll offer some suggestions for the ultimate wine and cheese combo – but remember, there’s nothing wrong with a little experimentation until you find the right pairing for you.
HARD CHEESE AND WINE PAIRINGS
Examples: Asiago, Gruyère, Parmesan, Gouda, Cheddar
Typical characteristics: dry, firm with a strong, tangy taste.
The great news is when looking for a great wine to pair with hard cheese, almost any red wine will do the trick (hooray!). A medium-bodied red such as Le Petit Caboche Vin de Pays de Vaucluse really packs a punch when paired with cheddar, such as our very own vintage organic cheddar. Fortified wines are also a winner with a port in particularly a well-suited match. If you would prefer a drop of white, Sauvignon blanc is a good choice or a glass of fizz such as Saumur Brut for that touch of class.
SOFT CHEESE AND WINE PAIRINGS
Examples: Camembert, Feta, Brie, ricotta, cream cheese
Typical characteristics: mushroomy, creamy, buttery, and sometimes garlicky.
A crisp, light-bodied white such as chardonnay makes the perfect pairing for soft cheeses. Sparkling or a dry rosé works too! A red such as Pinot noir is perfect for brie and camembert, but dry oaked red wines such as Bordeaux blends are best avoided.
BLUE CHEESE AND WINE PAIRINGS
Examples: Cabrales, Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola
Typical characteristics: salty, pungent and can be creamy, crumbly or dry.
Due to its distinct, salty flavour, blue cheeses are usually best matched with a fruity, sweet dessert wine or fortified wine. For an instant and easy win, Tawny Port and Stilton are a match made in heaven, as is Roquefort with a Sauternes from Bordeaux. Gorgonzola Dolce is best paired with a crisp, sparkling wine or soft red and whites, whereas a full-bodied vintage red is perfect for Gorgonzola Piccante.
TRUFFLE CHEESE AND WINE PAIRINGS
Examples: Sottocenere, Moliterno Black Truffle Pecorino and our very own Black Truffle Vintage Organic Cheddar.
Typical characteristics: earthy, nutty, rich with garlicky tones.
This is the rockstar of cheeses, so if you’re looking for the Wow factor, truffle cheese is the way to go, but which wine can do it justice?
The golden rule is to pair it with a wine that does not mask or overpower the delicate taste of the truffle. A glass of sparkling wine or pinot noir is a mouth-watering accompaniment to truffle cheese or maybe a bottle of Graham’s 10-Year Tawny Port with our own organic vintage Black Truffle cheddar.
WASHED RIND CHEESE AND WINE PAIRINGS
Examples: Stinking Bishop, Taleggio, Vacherin,Epoisse de Bourgogne
Typical characteristics – VERY pungent, moist, usually with an orange rind.
A stinky cheese needs an accompanying wine that balances well with the strong aroma. White wines with a hint of sweetness such as a Riesling are ideal, as are sweet sparkling wines. For red, go with something fruity which will complement washed rind cheeses perfectly.
EXTRA TIP FOR FINDING THE BEST WINE AND CHEESE PAIRINGS
If you’re looking to experiment, a great tip for pairing is to look for wine and cheese from the same country or region – after all, what grows together, goes together. Each cheese and the wine-producing region has a unique identity where the grapes and cheese evolve together beautifully. A potent Parmesan when matched with an Italian Chianti, for instance, makes for a winning combination, as does Époisses de Bourgogne with a drop of Bourgogne Chardonnay from France.
We hope you have found our whistlestop guide to wine and cheese pairings useful. If we have sufficiently whetted your appetite, why not explore our delicious range of organic cheeses and cheese and wine gift sets? Whether you’re looking for an extra special gift hamper for the cheese lover in your life or just looking to treat yourself (because…well, why not?), we’re confident you will find something to tempt your tastebuds!