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December 6, 2018

How to pair wine and cheese

Plan a party knowing that your wine and cheese choices will go hand-in-hand. Here are a few nice options to try. You’re usually safe pairing wines with cheeses that are produced in the same region or country, but you should also ask if you can sample cheese and wine before you buy. You might consider choosing handcrafted or artisanal cheeses when possible. Although they carry a higher price tag than manufactured versions, these small-batch cheeses are typically more flavorful.

Aged Cheddar Cheese With a Bold Red Wine

Firm and crumbly, this classic has a sharp flavor. Made with cow’s milk, aged Cheddar is produced in the United States and England.

Wine pairing suggestions: Syrah (shiraz), petite sirah or zinfandel
Flavor boosters: Whole-grain mustard, apples or pears with a drizzle of honey

Fresh Goat Cheese With a Light Dry Wine

With an earthy, mild flavor and slight tang, this spreadable cheese often is labeled chèvre (the French word for goat), and is produced in France and the United States.

Wine pairing suggestions: Beaujolais, dry sparkling wine or sauvignon blanc
Flavor boosters: Concord grapes, or even grape jelly. Also try fresh or dried figs, dates, honeycomb, apples, and pears.

Maytag Blue Cheese with a Rich Red Wine

Soft and crumbly, this blue cheese has a tangy, peppery flavor. Maytag is made with cow’s milk and produced in Iowa, and has a sharp but pleasing bite. 

Wine pairing suggestions: Cabernet sauvignon or syrah (shiraz)
Flavor boosters: Apricots, citrus fruits, fresh dates, walnuts or dried fruits

Aged Gouda Cheese With a Medium- to Full-bodied Red

Hard, with a nutty, caramel flavor, aged Gouda retains a creamy texture and may end with a hint of butterscotch. Tasty on a cheese plate, this cow’s-milk cheese is produced in Holland and also works well for fondue. 

Wine pairing suggestions: Pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon or zinfandel
Flavor boosters: Apples, fresh or dried apricots, pears or dark bread. Gouda is also delicious with a dark roast coffee.

Parmigiano-Reggiano With a Light- to Medium-bodied red

With a nutty, tangy flavor, Parmigiano-Reggiano has a natural hard but edible rind. Made from cow’s milk in Italy, the cheese must mature for at least 12 months.

Wine pairing suggestions: Chianti classico or merlot
Flavor boosters: Parmigiano-Reggiano begs to be paired with fresh figs, melon or honey-drizzled pears.

Manchego Cheese With a Fruity Spanish wine

Firm, with a mellow flavor, Manchego is mild, buttery and nutty, with a hint of salty piquancy often found in other sheep’s-milk cheeses. True Manchego is made from the whole milk of the hardy Spanish Manchega sheep.

Wine pairing suggestions: Sherry (fino), Rioja or Spanish sparkling wines
Flavor boosters: Olives, baguette slices, cured meats, carrots, red bell pepper strips and avocado. Or finish with Marcona almonds, green apple slices, honey or orange preserves, grapefruit and mango.

Brie With a Red or White Wine

Creamy, with a buttery and slightly tangy flavor, Brie is a cheese-board favorite served at room temperature or heated to oozy goodness. Made with cow’s milk and originating in France, Brie and its rind are intended to be eaten together.

Wine pairing suggestions: Pouilly-Fuissé, Côtes du Rhône or Bordeaux
Flavor boosters: Almonds or toasted pecans, strawberries or raspberries. Or try caramelized pears, apples or red or green grapes.

Pecorino Romano with a Bold Italian Red

Hard, with a sharp and piquant flavor, Pecorino Romano is aromatic and distinctive. Made in Italy with sheep’s milk (pecora is the Italian word for sheep), Pecorino Romano has a characteristic salty sharpness.

Wine pairing suggestions: Barolo, Gattinara or Barbaresco
Flavor boosters: Rustic homemade-style bread paired with fresh or dried figs, melon or pears

Roquefort Cheese With a French Red or White

Creamy and rich, Roquefort is made from sheep’s milk and has an assertive and slightly salty flavor. 

Wine pairing suggestions: Vouvray, French red Burgundy or Côtes du Rhône
Flavor boosters: If you prefer the French sensation of a dessert cheese, sample fresh dates, dried fruits, walnuts or spiced nuts with Roquefort.

Fresh Mozzarella Cheese With an Italian Red

With a mild and sweet flavor, fresh mozzarella is usually sold in a ball surrounded by whey or water. 

Wine pairing suggestions: Bardolino or Valpolicella
Flavor boosters: Sliced and topped with a tomato slice, basil leaf and a splash of olive oil, simple mozzarella becomes a fantastic mini salad. Or try prosciutto, roasted red peppers or olives.

Gruyère With a Crisp Accompaniment

Firm, with a mild and nutty flavor, Gruyère has a complexity that may at first seem a bit fruity. Made with cow’s milk, Gruyère has a simultaneously creamy and grainy texture, making it delicious with crackers, bread and fruit—or as fondue.

Wine pairing suggestions: Riesling, sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer, Côtes du Rhône or red Burgundy
Flavor boosters: Red apples, plums and hazelnuts with chunks of hearty bread

Mascarpone with an Italian White

With a mild, sweet flavor, mascarpone hails from Italy. Made with cow’s milk, this spreadable cheese is soft, rich and butterlike. Besides being a pleasing addition to a cheese tray, mascarpone is famous in Italian desserts, such as tiramisu.

Wine pairing suggestions: Frascati or Soave
Flavor boosters: Top with fresh blueberries, strawberries or raspberries for a sweet finish.

Used with permission. © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.