In trems of wine and cheese pairings, our parents and grand parents only ever thought of red, perfect to finish a meal. However white wine tends to work better with cheese. Explanations below…
- Red wines habe, in general, a lower acidity than white wines, but also more tannins.
- Most cheeses have a high fat and salt content and are acidic (acidity coming from lactic acid, even if we do not really feel it when we tastes cheese as this is balanced by fatness).
- Salt, acidity and fat do not work with tannins… Therefore you understand why in most cases, white wine will be the best option for cheese, even if you just had a red before. You can serve a red wine with cheese, but the pairing will have to be done precisely in order to avoird any disaster!
- Last but not least, white wine and cheese love each other, and cheese can actually hide some wine faults. This is why English Wine Merchants often say: “buy on apple, sell on cheese”. The crisp acidity of an apple will enhance the dafault of any white wine, whereas cheese will hide it.
Please find below five examples fo some cheese and wine pairings that always work. For this you need to know what type of cheese you are serving.
With Goat’s Cheese
This type of cheese is more acidic than the average. The best match will therefore be a mineral and acidic white, such as Loire Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre, Pouilly fumé…). For some more unusual pairings, you can try a Riesling or a Grüner Veltliner from Austria. If you really want to go for a red, then choose a light and acidic red such as reds from the Loire made from the Gamay grape, or soome pinots noirs grown in cool areas (Alsace, Germany…).
With soft Cheese
Whether it is with a flowered crust (brie, camembert, coulommiers) or curd cheese (munster, livarot, époisses), the main characteristics of this type of cheese are softness & creamyness. this will highly affect the type of wines you can pair with them. the idea here is to cut throught the fat of the cheese. A great pairing would be a sparkling wine such as a crémant, a good Clairette de Die (Rhône) or from Limoux (Languedoc), a Prosecco or a Cava from Spain. On a celebration day, you can of course open a bottle of Champagne… If you really want to serve a red, you will need a young and fruity wine such as a beaujolais (Saint Amour, Brouilly, etc.).
With a hard-pressed Cheese
Whether it is a pressed cooked cheese (Comté, Emmental, Beaufort) or not (cantal, Laguiole), these cheeses are strong and dense. Therefore you will need a powerful and full bodied wine. For whites, you can go for a great white from Burgundy Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, etc. You can also find some great pairings if you can find some great whites from the Rhône: Châteauneuf du Pape, Hermitage.
With Blue Cheese
Blue Cheeses tend to have a metallic aftertaste. This can be absolutely dramatic and can kill some fantastic wines. Here the best option is a sweet wine. Almost all of them will work, from a great sweet wine from Bordeaux and the South West (Sauternes, Jurançon) to an entry-level local late harvest wine, as well as fortified wines such as Banuyls and Rasteau VDN.
And what if I serve a cheese borad with lots of different cheeses?
This is the the case most of the times… I would recommend finding a white wine that pairs with the lightest and most delicate of all your cheeses. You should also keep on the table the bottle of red you probably just had with the main course. This latter will pair with the stronger cheeses. But to be sure not to do any mistake, I would suggest doing a cheese borad with several types of cheeses, but all coming from the same area. And then selecting wines from the same area too.
That’s all, I stop talking, you just have to try and experiment because in terms of food & wine pairings, everything is very subjective and you must be prepared to some great surprises…