When done well, a wine and cheese pairing delights the palate. Try experimenting with different combinations to learn what flavor matches appeal to you. There are no hard-set rules, only guidelines and considerations that can assist you in your choice — here are some things to keep in mind.
Flavor: Cheese and wine flavors can match or, more often, they can pleasantly oppose and counterbalance. A citrusy Sauvignon Blanc can echo the tartness of a fresh chevre beautifully, but a sweet dessert wine can complement a salty blue cheese, too. The flavors to look for when pairing wine and cheese are acidity or tartness, bitterness, sweetnes and spiciness.
Texture: Consider whether a cheese is smooth, creamy, crumbly, firm or hard and dry before you start pairing. Then think about compatible qualities in your wine choice: crisp, dry, buttery, velvety or full-bodied.
Age: Match light with light and strong with strong. That means younger, lighter wines will work best with younger, milder cheeses, while long-aged cheeses need well-aged wines.
Chevre & Sancerre: These two specialties of France’s Loire Valley are made for each other. The tangy, acidic flavors of fresh goat cheese is matched by the crisp, lively Sauvignon Blanc, and the wine’s herbaceous quality highlights the earthiness of the cheese.
Double- or triple-cream cheeses & Champagne: Rich cheeses like Brillat-Savarin coat the mouth. The bubbles and subtle fruit of a sparkling wine refresh the palate but cutting through the creaminess, yet emphasizing its luxurious texture.
Parmigiano-Reggiano & Sangiovese: Hard aged cheeses with a little bite tend to pair well with red wines, and Chianti and Brunello — both made from the Sangiovese grape — are produced in the same region as Parmigiano-Reggiano. These rich, medium- to full-bodied wines tame the sharpness of the cheese, and the pleasantly salty cheese brings out the ripe fruit notes in the wine.
Stilton & port: English Stilton — a creamy blue with distinctive salty, nutty, meaty and smoky flavors — meets its match in vintage port, with its equally luscious mouthfeel, ripe flavors and full body. The sweetness of the wine counteracts the saltiness of the cheese, and the pairing makes each bite or sip more captivating.