A Toast to the Best Wine and Cheese Pairings

Authors: Carmelle Druchniak & Kiley Cairns

Even though it’s a centuries-old tradition, pairing wine and cheese together can be an intimidating task. Whether you’re just starting to experiment or you’re looking for something more adventurous, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve compiled some of the best wine and cheese pairing ideas from winecoolerdirect.com.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Extra Sharp Cheddar
A full-bodied and dry red Cabernet Sauvignon has hints of herbs and dark fruits. When paired with the extra sharp cheddar, the red wine draws out the bold cheddar flavors of this strong cheese. Cabernet Sauvignon also works well with other intense cheeses, particularly ones that are firm and salty.

Merlot and Garlic and Herb Cheese
A garlic and herb cheese has sharp and tangy flavors. When paired with Merlot, which is a dry red wine that is medium to full-bodied, the cheese brings out notes of black cherry, plum, and black tea. The garlic and herb cheese flavors are more heavily emphasized because of Merlot’s dry fruitiness.

Malbec and Vintage or Reserve Cheese
Reserve or vintage cheese has robust flavors, which need a red wine that can hold up against it. Malbecs are medium to full-bodied red wines that have black fruit, anise, and herb notes. The strong flavor of the Malbec complements a vintage or reserve cheese.

Zinfandel and Jalapeno or Hot Buffalo
Zinfandel is a dry red wine that is medium to full-bodied and has dark jam and black pepper hints. (Note: not to be confused with White Zinfandel which is a sweet wine). Because Zinfandel is fruity and spicy, it pairs well with spicy cheeses for a bold combination.

Pinot Noir and Sharp Cheddar or Gruyère
Sharp Cheddar is aged and needs to be paired with a wine that has earthy notes, such as Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is a dry and light to medium-bodied red wine that has these characteristics along with ripe red fruit flavors. It also works well with a nutty cheese with medium firmness, such as Gruyère.

Red Blend and Sharp or Smoked Cheese
Wines made from a blend of red grapes are usually medium-bodied and well-balanced. With their fruit, herb, and spice flavors, red blends work well with smoked or sharp cheese because all the flavors become enhanced significantly. Red blend wine tends to work well with all meal options because it is considered well-rounded.

Syrah/Shiraz and Aged Cheese
Aged cheese has intense savory flavors. Wines that are paired with them need to be equally intense and should also be rather dry. Syrah holds up well in this pairing because it is dry, medium to full-bodied, and has dark fruit and herb flavors. A Shiraz with tobacco notes works particularly well with smoked cheeses.

Chardonnay and Mild Cheddar, Colby Jack, or Triple Cream Cheese
Chardonnay is a dry, medium-bodied white wine with apple and pear notes, which makes it fruity and crisp. These features help enhance the characteristics of either of these mild cheeses, particularly the creaminess and the sweetness. Pungent washed-rind cow’s cheeses will lose its stinky characteristics when paired with Chardonnay, but you can also opt for milder, traditional triple cream cheese to avoid the smell.

Sauvignon Blanc and Monterey Jack 
Monterey Jack is known for its subtleness and needs to be paired with a wine that won’t overwhelm it. Sauvignon Blanc is a light-bodied, dry, and bright white wine that has citrus and grassy notes that complement this cheese.

Pinot Grigio and Mild Cheese
Pinot Grigio is a light-bodied, dry white wine that has refreshing pear and melon flavors. Its high acidity acts as a palate cleanser that prepares you for having mild cheese like a young Gouda.

Moscato and Muenster or Pepper Jack
Both of these cheeses have spicy flavors and work best with sweet wine. Moscato is an off-dry and light-bodied white wine that is known for its orange blossom and lemon zest notes, as well as having aromatic flavors.

Riesling and Spicy and Powerful Cheeses
Riesling is a light-bodied, off-dry white wine that has stone fruit and peach blossom flavors. When paired with spicy and powerful cheeses, the acidity and sweetness of the wine work well with the cheeses’ stimulating characteristics.

White Blend and Pepper Jack
Pepper Jack is a spicy cheese that needs a light white wine to partner with. White blends allow the cheese to take precedence with its medium body and crisp white fruit flavors.

Champagne and Muenster or Monterey Jack
This popular sparkling wine is usually medium-bodied and varies from dry to off-dry. Champagne usually has toasty citrus and apple flavors. With its bubbly effervescence, this wine works well with mild or spicy cheeses but is versatile enough to be used for any cheese.

Sweet Rosé and Chipotle or Colby Jack
These spicy, full-flavored cheeses call for a wine that is sweet and has a creamy quality. Sweet Rosé is a pink wine that is off-dry and light-bodied. The watermelon and strawberry flavors make the wine a good partner with these cheeses.

Dry Rosé and Tomato and Basil or Mild Cheese
Dry Rosé is a pink wine that is dry and light to medium-bodied. The hints of cherry and raspberry in the wine bring brightness and acidity into the pairing with these mild yet flavorful cheese options.

Vintage Port and Stilton (Blue Cheese)
The older the port is, the sweeter it is because the tannins have become soft over time and the acidity has decreased. Because of this, blue cheeses work well with it. The older the vintage port is, the stronger and smellier the blue cheese can be.

Now that you’ve got your pairing ideas, check out these tips for making the ultimate cheeseboard. Enjoy! 🧀 

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