It’s the New Year and the perfect time to brush up on your Cheese and Wine Pairing notes.
Cheeses, in general, have five types. And each is best matched with a number of differing wines.
Cheese Type: FRESH
(Chevre, Feta, Haloumi, Persian Feta, Ricotta, Mozzarella)
Fresh young cheeses are usually very simple but delicate in flavour. These cheeses are best suited to light, fruity, refreshing wine styles that will not overpower the subtle flavour of young cheese.
Wine: Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, young sparkling wine
Cheese Type: WHITE
Young white-mould cheeses are chalky and acidic and have little depth of flavour, but will match well with cider. As the cheeses mature there will be a creamy inner paste and a sometimes ammoniac flavoured rind. As these cheeses are stronger than fresh varieties, the wine needs a bit more punch and a fuller bouquet.
Wine: Oak-matured chardonnay, Light Pinot noir, Wooded Semillon
Cheese Type: Washed Rind
(Munster, King River Gold, Woombye Gold, Tallegio, St Nectaire, Chaumes)
This diverse group ranges from very mild and delicate cheeses to very strong, stinky, wild cheeses that tend to ooze everywhere. This makes it difficult to produce a single rule for matching them with wine. They often need robust, aromatic wines. In Alsace and Germany, these cheeses are commonly matched with sparkling yeasty beer or semi-sweet wine.
Wine: Heavy pinot noir, Grenache, Vintage sparkling, late harvest Riesling
Cheese Type: Blue
(Light House Blue, Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Blue D’Auvergne, Saint Agur, Shadows of Blue, Fourme D’Ambert, Sheep Milk Blue)
Matching blue cheese and wine is one of the great challenges, but a wonderful marriage when you get it right. Most blues are salty with strong complex flavours. A safe match is with sweet or sticky wines. Other classic partners are fortified wines such as Tokay or Muscat. Red wine and blue cheese is generally a terrible match.
Wine: Tokay, Muscat, Port, Sweet wines.
Cheese Type: Semi-hard and Hard
(Cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, Emmental, Gruyere, Raclette, Jarslberg, Manchego, Gouda)
With age, natural-rind cheeses become more concentrated, stronger and rounder in flavour with a texture that becomes increasingly dry and sometimes crumbly. For balance, they require fuller-bodied, robust, red wines or sweeter fortified wines.
Wine: Cab. Sav, Shiraz, Tokay, Sherry, Old reds.
***Photograph with thanks to Renoufs Cheese