When it comes to combining wine and cheese, the possibilities are endless. So before your next wine and cheese party, take a moment to learn what types of cheese pair well with different varieties of wine.
Types of cheese
There are four basic categories of cheese: bloomy, hard, blue and fresh.
Bloomy: These are typically creamy and decadent cheeses with a soft rind.Think brie and camembert.
Hard: Hard cheeses like cheddar, gouda and gruyere cheese often have a sharp (and sometimes salty) taste. They can also be aged.
Blue: These colourful cheeses dress up any cheese plate with a dash of colour. They are quite pungent and often salty-tasting.
Fresh: Soft, spreadable cheeses like goat cheese or feta can be tangy or mild.
Factors to consider when paring wine and cheese
Although there are always exceptions, white wines generally go better with more cheeses than reds. The reds that tend to pair well are fruity and light.
Hard cheeses such as cheddar go well with tannic wines (reds), whereas “bloomy” cheese like brie go better with acidic wines such as chardonnay. Salty cheese pairs well with a sweet wine.
One good general rule of thumb is to match a strong cheese and a simple wine. Alternatively, try pairing a simple, rustic cheese with a robust wine. You might even like to try pairing wine and cheese from the same region — an Italian cheese like Parmesan with a good Italian Chianti, for example.
If you have a few specific varieties in mind for your cheese platter, knowing what category they belong to makes it easier to pair with wine. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to wine and cheese pairings, but here are a few classics:
- Brie – Chardonnay
- Camembert – Champagne
- Gouda – Merlot
- Cheddar – Cabernet Sauvignon
- Gruyere – Sauvignon Blanc
- Parmesan – Chianti
- Gorgonzola – Port
- Stilton – Sauternes
- Blue – Riesling
- Feta – Beaujolais
- Goat – Chenin Blanc
Wine and cheese paring tips
Don’t worry about following strict guidelines. Pairing wine and cheese really comes down to personal preference, so it’s probably best to try as many different combinations as possible. Here are some basics to remember before the party begins:
- Wine and cheese must be served at the right temperature to allow flavours to emerge
- Serve white wine at 45°F and red at 60°F
- Remove cheese from the fridge at least half an hour to an hour before serving
- Add some good bread, olives, preserves, dried fruit and nuts to your cheese platter
With so many wine and cheese possibilities on the market, the choice can be staggering. Make your wine and cheese party fun and relaxed by starting off small — and try just a few of the options above so you don’t get overwhelmed.