Top 10 Wine and Cheese Pairings
Wine and Cheese Party
What’s not to love about wine and cheese? These are two incredible indulgences that enhance each other when enjoyed together… especially if you find the perfect pairing. It can be tricky, however, if you’re a cheese pairing newbie so I pulled together my Top 10 List of Wine and Cheese Pairings as an easy reference guide. Read it along with my Top 10 Best Cheap Wines Under $20 list to nail your wine and cheese pairing menu.
How to select the perfect pairings
To craft the best wine and cheese pairings, it’s important to consider the structure of the wine, the texture of the cheese, and both their aromatic characteristics. You want all of the components to be complimentary. Look out for my notes on both throughout my top 10 list. Bold cheeses should be matched with bold wines. When in doubt, look for cheeses produced in nearby regions to your wine; they tend to go well together!
How to eat cheese with wine
To eat your cheese while enjoying your wine, there’s 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. You’ll keep wanting another bite and another sip, on repeat until you’re out of both cheese and wine!
The Top 10 Wine and Cheese Pairings
Champagne Cheese Pairing:
Délice de Bourgogne
Champagne or any traditional method sparkling wine is a perfect pairing for soft cheeses like Délice de Bourgogne or triple crème Brie. Traditional method sparkling wines offer freshness and notes of toast and brioche, which pair beautifully with the delicate earthy aromas in cheeses like Délice de Bourgogne. The carbonation and freshness of the sparkling wine cuts the creaminess of the cheese. It’s the ultimate wine and cheese pairing. Champagne brand we love: Mumm Napa
Sauvignon Blanc Cheese Pairing:
Sauvignon Blanc is super fresh with notes of lemon and fresh cut grass. Its freshness cuts the creaminess of a Chèvre-style goat cheese. The vegetal aromatic characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc complement the earthy notes of the goat cheese. It’s a fantastic combination. Sauvignon Blanc brand we love for food pairings: The Crossings.
An unoaked citrus-forward Chardonnay is a great alternative that would pair well with goat cheese. A Chenin Blanc wine with notes of lime and yellow apple is also a nice pairing.
Off Dry Riesling Cheese Pairing:
Rieslings range in sweetness levels, but an off dry Riesling with its notes of green apple, lime, white flowers, and delicate minerality is a fantastic pairing for medium-aged cheeses like Cheddar or Jarslberg. The freshness of Riesling balances out the creaminess of these cheeses. The little bit of sweetness in the wine cuts the savoriness of the cheese. It’s like cheddar on a green apple slice with honey drizzled on top but in the form of a perfect wine and cheese pairing. Our absolute favorite Riesling brand: Dr. Loosen
Pinot Grigio Cheese Pairing:
Pinot Grigio has notes of lemon, apple, and honeysuckle on the nose and a saline quality on the palate. It beautifully complements the buttery, creamy notes of Baby Swiss cheese while offering freshness and a tiny bit of much-needed salinity. Think of it as the crystal salt on homemade butter on bread. It’s a wonderful pairing. Our favorite Pinot Gris for pairing: La Crema.
Moscato Cheese Pairing:
Moscato D’Asti is a slightly sweet sparkling white wine from Northwest Italy. Its notes of Meyer lemons and peaches complement the pungent aromatic notes found in Brie. The effervescence in Moscato cuts the creaminess of the Brie, and makes you want to keep going back for more. If you want to make a charcuterie board, add some cured meats; the sweetness in the Moscato will balance out the salinity beautifully!
Tokaji Aszú Cheese Pairing:
Tokaji Aszú wines originate from Hungary and Slovakia, and they are made primarily from the Furmint grape. Tokaji is a sweet, dessert wine that pairs beautifully with blue cheeses like Stilton or Roquefort. Blue cheeses are quite pungent, a little floral, and create a mouth-watering effect. The sweetness in Tokaji wines counterbalances the richness and savoriness of the blue cheese. Tokaji’s aromas of nectarine, apricot, orange, marigold, and honey are a beautiful complement. Sauternes from France and Ruby Ports from Portugal are also great wine pairings for blue cheeses.
Pinot Noir Cheese Pairing:
Pinot Noir is light and earthy with notes of strawberry and raspberry. It’s a very versatile wine for a cheese pairing, but it’s the perfect match for Gruyère de Comté. Comtés are famous for taking on different aromatic characteristics depending on the time of year they were made and where. Fun fact, they have 83 official descriptors! Loosely categorized, they can be lactic, fruity, spicy, vegetal, roasted, or have an animal quality on the nose. Regardless, Pinot Noir’s complex aromatic profile and freshness beautifully complements any of the possible characteristics found in Comté. Inexpensive Pinot Noir: Yellow Tail
Merlot Cheese Pairing:
A fruity Merlot, with notes of ripe and jammy raspberry and plum, is excellent with a soft and creamy Camembert. Merlot sees a bit of oak aging as well, which adds that little bit of nuttiness and spiciness to the pairing. Merlot is moderately fresh and slightly tannic, complementing the rich, buttery texture of Camembert. This pairing is a must-try! Our favorite Merlot producer: Duckhorn Vineyards.
Rioja Cheese Pairing:
Red Rioja from northwest Spain is made primarily from Tempranillo grapes. Riojas have notes of cherry, dill, and vanilla which pairs well with Manchego’s fruity, nutty notes. Riojas are bold, fairly tannic, and moderately full-bodied which rounds off the crumbly texture of Manchego. Add some Jamón Ibérico and you’ve got a wonderful trio.
Cabernet Sauvignon Cheese Pairing:
Aged cheeses in general are great with Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon is tannic, black fruit-driven, and bold so it holds up well with aged cheeses. Aged gouda, aged cheddar, and Parmigiano Reggiano all generally have a nutty quality to them. This works beautifully with the slightly jammy blackberry fruit notes you find in some Cabernet Sauvignons. Our favorite Cabernet Sauvignon: 2014 Double Lariat.