Marriages are made in heaven. One such marriage is wine and cheese, ala destined to be together, we bet happily. Each a delicacy in its own right and pairing these two is where the magic happens. Though opposites attract, but wine and cheese are similar in terms of styles. Different regional traditions intertwine with climate and soil for both wine and cheese, making each batch different from the last. Each is distinct and has an individual personality and that’s the reason they make for a perfect pair.
Be it tannic, oaky, acidic, light, sweet, or dry, there’s a wine out there for every cheese. With an ever growing awareness about different cultures and exposure to the world’s best wines, there’s a growing preference for this beverage and we are not kidding when we write that no get together is complete without a cheese board and an array of wines. While people go fancy, sparse or fuller with the boards they always tend to forget that what you serve with the cheese is as important. Fret not, we have the perfect guide for you.
“Wine and cheese are a match made in heaven, but you can’t just open any bottle of wine with any cheese. One of the things to remember is that a bigger bolder cheese like an aged cheddar needs a wine that can lift it up and not get winded in the process therefore the safe bet is to go with red or even a good bottle of a dry and acidic champagne,” says Sheeba Dhawan, cheese monger, Crave To Plate.
“I always tell my clients to keep in mind the heaviness of wine they are going to serve while planning their boards as saltiness and sweetness of the cheese can be overpowered by it resulting in not such a great mouth feel,” adds Dhawan. Here’s a lowdown on which cheese should be paired with different wines.
Blue cheese paired with dessert wine
Blue cheese like Stilton or Gorgonzola should be paired with port wine or dessert wine or Sherry. “Blue cheese is a type of cheese made using cultures of Penicillium, a type of mold. Blue cheese pairs beautifully with honey, dried fruit, apple or pear slices, figs and walnuts. Port wines, ice wine or dessert wines make for delicious pairings,” says Himani Kapila Chawla, cheese monger, Cheesesareus.
Port wine is known for its full body, sweetness and bold character, you need a pungent smelling cheese to go with it. The complex character of a pungent and salty Blue Stilton matches up beautifully with an older and sweeter Port. “Remember, the sweeter the wine, the stinkier the cheese,” chips in Chawla.
Swiss gruyere paired with Pinot Noir
Gruyère is known for its rich, creamy, salty, and nutty flavour. “Its flavour does vary depending on age, young Gruyère has pronounced creaminess and nuttiness, while older Gruyère develops an earthiness that is a bit more complex,” opines Chawla. A classic Pinot noir pairs brilliantly with this cheese as the tannins present in the Pinot noir are a perfect match and holds up nicely to the nuttiness of a firm aged Gruyere. Both are complex enough to stand up to each other without taking away any of the strong characteristics of each other. Instead of overpowering each other, they are in synchronised harmony.
Brie or camembert paired with champagnes or sparkling wines
Brie is rich, buttery, fruity and becomes increasingly earthy with age. It has a runny, creamy texture and a strong earthy aroma. Champagne and other bubblies work beautifully with camembert and brie. The softer texture of triple-cream cheese like brie demands something sharp and acidic to cut through the fat. Acidic and wonderful stinging bubbles of Champagne are in contrast with Brie’s thick creaminess, making for an excellent combination.
Goat cheese or Feta cheese paired with Sauvignon blanc
Both feta and goat cheese are soft white cheeses with a creamy oozy mouthfeel. A nice Sauvignon blanc here, because of its citrus and mineral notes, this brings out the wonderful earthy, tarty, herbal and nutty flavours of this variety of cheese. Also, the acidity of the Sauvignon blanc cuts the richness of the feta or the goat cheese.
Cheddar paired with Cabernet Sauvignon
Cheddar is one of its kind and has a sharp flavour. “When cheddar ages, it goes from mild (young in age) to tangier with a more complex and deeper flavour,” adds Chawla. A good aged cheddar has a fattiness that matches up wonderfully with the mouth-drying tannins in most Cabernet Sauvignons. Thus, their respective bold flavors synchronize, instead of one drowning the other.