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Cheese and Wine Pairing Guide for Beginners

Cheese and Wine Pairing Guide for Beginners
Cheese and Wine Pairing Guide for Beginners

First off, let me answer this question: why do wine and cheese pair together so well? There are hundreds of books explaining their relationship over the centuries (Janet Fletcher’s book contains the best photography and information we’ve seen).  Aside from poetic answers that are typically given, the solution is both scientific and simple: the bitter aftertaste that many kinds of cheese typically have combined perfectly with the bitter substances and tannins found in wine, and help to mitigate them. That is why wine achieves a softness and roundness when enjoyed with a great cheese.

This unique combination is due to casein decomposition, which is a fundamental protein of cheese and milk. It generates a small amount of ammonia to buffer some of the acid components contained in wine.

A Chart For Pairing Cheese and Wine For Beginners

Each wine is unique. Is your wine spicy and dry? Smooth the rigid tannins out along with the bracing acidity by pairing it with a cheese that is slightly less firm. The fat content in the cheese will complement the tannins and the high acidity of the wine is absorbed by the texture. For example, a Chardonnay from Burgundy and a 5-month aged Brie.

Learn about wine’s basic characteristics to perfect your very own pairings:

Soft Cheese and Wine Pairings


A Frenchman once told me, “Life is too short to have bad wine and cheese…

Every glass of wine or cheese plate is delicious all by itself, however, when pairing two of them, that is when the magic occurs. Whether it is dry, sweet, light, or tannic, it is known there is a wine available for every cheese out there. So the next time you are getting a cheese plate organized (we like this simple setup by Shanik), the following wines are the ones you should pair them with to enjoy them to their fullest.

Cheese is a complex product and often has pungent and intense aromas along with tastes that vary from strong and complex to delicate. For those reasons, it is not always easy to combine cheese with wine.

*Cheese will act as an intrusive food. In general, you should pair cheese with wines that have an equal and adequate grade of “intrusiveness.”

Advanced Criteria for Vino and Cheese

It is known among avid tasters that there are many criteria to follow. For example, there are some experts who select geographical criteria to pair wines and cheeses originating from the same locations. When you follow this rule you can perfectly pair the Grana Padano Oltrepò Pavese, while a Castelmagno will go very well with a Barolo wine.

Many other people prefer to make their choices according to the products’ organoleptic properties. The intensity and concentration of the flavors of wines and cheese need to match. That means an aged cheese, like a Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano, goes nicely with an aged full-bodied red wine. Medium-aged cheese – like Asiago and Emmenthal – match well with a medium-bodied red wine. If the cheese is delicate and fresh, the wine is perfumed and light.

Red or White Wine, there is no correct cheese pairing

Also, it is known that red wine pairs the best with cheese. However, this so-called “rule” is false, due to the incredible diversity within cheese’s qualities. Fresh cheeses that have a certain acidity – like Robiola or Mozzarella may be matched perfectly with many rose and white wines. That is one of the possibilities of matching cheeses and wines.

Along with the products’ overall structure, consider the internal balance of their flavors; are there various fatty elements that taste spicy, salty, or sweet? In several cases, to balance out the sensory experience, base the right combination on contrast. What a contrast does is smooth out the excess fatness from the cheese with sharpness elements (like acidity of tannins), and soft flavors with strong flavors, and sweetness and alcohol with the presence of mold.

What Cheese goes best with Fortified Wines?

In respect to that, give consideration for tangy and spicy cheese with a pungent flavor, like long ripened cheeses or blue cheese; great combinations with fortified wines and sweet dessert wines. For example, Stilton combines ideally with Porto wine, Gorgonzola goes nicely with fortified wines that have an appreciable sweetness, like Marsala Superiore, and aromatic sweet wines like Passito di Pantelleria and Roquefort goes wonderfully with Sauternes.

Sweet wines and cheese are one of the most exciting pairings. However, this option should only be proposed when cheese is eaten on its own and is the only course in the meal or served after the meal. If several wines are being served and you are unsure what cheese to pair it with, a very popular choice and safe bets with all different styles of wine is a nutty, firm cheese. These cheese have enough fat content to counterbalance the tannins found in red wine, but still delicate enough to complicate a delicate white wine. A couple of examples include Gouda, Emmental, Comté Extra, Abbaye de Belloc, and Swiss, Gruyère.

Check out the extensive Wine and Cheese Pairing Chart below:

cheese-and-wine-pairing-chartThinking of giving someone a gift basket of wine and cheese? Take a look at the selection here!