It is no guarded secret that wine and cheese can be tastebud tingling combination. But where do you start?
Well, there are no official rules. Everybody has different taste and therefore different preferences. But there are some combinations that just work better than others. We’ve put down some guidelines that will help to point you in the right direction for cheese and wine taste sensations.
Bubbles are a natural palate cleanser
Sparkling wines are not the first thing to come to mind when one is planning an evening of cheese and wine. That needs to change. The bubbles in a good prosecco, champagne or other sparkling wine work as an excellent palate cleanser, much like a sorbet. Punctuating each bite of cheese with a sip of fizz will be like tasting the cheese for the first time.
As most sparkling wines have delicate flavours and a luxurious feel you should go for cheeses in a similar vein. Cheeses with a velvety texture are an excellent choice for this. Go for triple creme cheeses like a vignotte or a brillat savarin.
Strong, hard cheeses like a bold red
It has become an obvious choice for a reason. A bold and complex red with a farm-yard flavoured cheddar or a nutty alpine cheese will give you lots of flavours to wrap your tongue around.
Ewes milk cheeses like aged manchegos, pecorinos or Ossau Iraty have strength and a certain sweetness. These taste great with full-bodied reds like Syrahs, Tempranillos and Merlots.
Sometimes soft cheeses with more delicate flavours can be drowned out by the tannins of a strong red. If you stick with a meaty, washed rind soft cheese such as Durrus, they will be able to compete with a heavy red.
Don’t be afraid of white wines
Though a robust red and hard cheese can pair beautifully, that doesn’t mean you should avoid the white wines. A strong white with balanced tannins and acidity will often cut through a strong savoury cheese without deducting from the flavours.
Try a Sauvignon Blanc with a strong goats cheese, ash-rolled goats cheeses like the French Selles-sur-cher or a British Innes Log work spectacularly. They have a combination of creamy textures near the rind and chalkier toward the middle that feels luxurious alongside a good white.
Fortified wines with a strong blue can make a pairing heavenly
It’s not just port that goes well with a strong blue cheese. Sherry or Madeira can also be an excellent choice. The sweetness of fortified wines compliments the strength of certain blues and can help to bring out the sweet and fruity notes that you’ll find in a Stilton or Roquefort.
Pairing cheeses and wines is great fun, be daring and willing to take a risk. Use this guide to help you on your way but don’t fear trying something out of the box, you may find a goats cheese that matches up deliciously with tannin rich and fruity red or a blue cheese that tastes elegant and astringent with a good champagne. The possibilities are endless.