Wine and Cheese Pairing Guide
Wine and cheese are two of life’s greatest pleasures – enjoyed together they’re unequalled.
But how exactly do you pair wine and cheese?
Whether you’re relaxing with afternoon nibbles, or finishing a fabulous dinner party, the right wine and cheese pairing is a sublime indulgence. Learn how to create delectable combinations with our guide for pairing wine with cheese including popular styles like cheddar, washed rind, blue, and soft cheeses.
Let's start with this short video from our Tasting Panel Co-Chair (and self-confessed cheese fiend), Adam Walls as he explains how you can sharpen up your wine and cheese pairing skills.
DO YOU DRINK RED OR WHITE WINE WITH CHEESE?
As it happens, most popular cheese styles can be paired with red or white wines. It all comes down to contrasting texture, flavour, fat content, saltiness, and savouriness. Keep reading to find out more.
WHAT WINES PAIR WITH CHEDDAR?
For most of us, our introduction to cheese started with cheddar. Hard in texture and often strong in taste, it’s the most produced and eaten cheese in the world.
“Cheddar is renowned for its rich, sharp flavour and crumbly texture, with the richness coming from its higher levels of fat,” Adam Walls explains. “Powerful red wine has always complemented cheddar extremely well, as the fruit power matches the weight of the cheese and the tannin cuts through the fat. Cabernet Sauvignon and blends work well, as does Tempranillo, Malbec, and Sangiovese.”
Matching wine with smoked cheese can be bit trickier. This is because, Adam says, “Sometimes the strong smoky flavours in the cheese can overpower most fruit characters in the wine.”
The solution, he explains, is to “A fruit driven Rosé as the clean berry flavours will match the smoky profile of the cheese in a similar way oak does to most red wines. An oaked Chardonnay is also a great choice if you prefer whites.”
Best wine pairings with cheddar cheese: Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Malbec, Sangiovese, Rosé, or Chardonnay.
WHAT WINES PAIR WITH WASHED RIND?
Not to be mistaken for soft white cheese, washed rind, with its complex flavours, provides a completely unique tasting experience. Just remember – the smellier the better!
Matching wine with washed rind cheese can be a challenge, as the strength of flavour of the cheese depends on its ripeness and is therefore difficult to predict. But Adam has some advice. “Generally, because this style is light and creamy, it needs to be matched with a wine that is just as delicate, such as Sparkling wine. The fresh acids in the wine provide an ideal complement to the creamy finish of the cheese.”
In particular, Adam continues, “A vintage Sparkling with its delicate weight and earthy, toasty flavours will elevate the subtleties in the cheese.”
What about red lovers? According to Adam, “You need to consider the palate weight and tannins in the wine, as they may dominate the cheese and sour the overall flavours. Go for a full yet lighter variety like Barbera or Grenache as their savoury characters balance well with light cheeses.”
Best wine pairings for washed rind cheese: Vintage Sparkling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Rosé or lighter reds like a silky-smooth modern-day Grenache.
WHAT WINES PAIRS WITH GOAT’S CHEESE?
For goat’s cheese you need a wine with a similar pungent aroma. Aromatic whites including Sauvignon Blanc (plus Semillon Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blends), fragrant Rosé, and lighter reds like Pinot Noir or Gamay are great matches.
Best wine pairings for goat's cheese: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Rosé, Pinot Noir or Gamay.
WHAT WINES PAIR WITH BLUE MOULD CHEESE?
While blue mould is traditionally strong in smell, colour, and flavour, it can also be mild and creamy – perfect for the blue novice. This style includes some of the most expensive and sought-after cheeses ever made.
“The strength of most blue mould cheeses can make wine matching easy. Due to its strong spicy flavours and complex creamy nuances, this style of cheese lends itself well to full, sweet wines,” says Adam.
But what about the really full, strong styles? The answer, Adam says, is simple – “more sugar! Fortified wines, especially the sweeter styles of Muscat and Tokay, are perfect as the syrupy, nutty palate balances the strong flavours and allows for the complexities in each to lengthen and linger.”
“For lighter, creamier styles of blue, a botrytis wine or a sweet Rosé will match the weight of the cream and provide a balance to the subtle spiciness.”
Best wine pairings with blue mould cheese: Late Harvest Riesling, Botrytis Semillon, Tawny, Muscat, Tokay or a Rosé.
WHAT WINES PAIR WITH WHITE MOULD CHEESE?
White mould cheeses like Camembert ooze decadence and are a popular favourite with their creamy texture and elegant flavours.
“With its creamy texture and subtle yet more-ish flavours, white mould is one of the easiest cheeses to match with wine,” Adam explains.
“Low in acids and high in cream, it can be matched with a wide variety of wine styles, however, balance is the key. The overt creaminess of this cheese can flood the palate, dominating the tastebuds, so choose a wine with a natural acidic back bone that will complement its lingering creaminess.”
The different styles of brie require different matches, though. “Brie with a lush mouthfeel will be balanced by the fresh acids in a light-bodied white or an oaked Chardonnay”, Adam says. “While more subtle, creamy characters will match the settled tannins and earthy fruit in light-bodied reds such as Pinot Noir, Rosé or an aged red.”
Best wine pairings with white mould cheese: Unoaked aromatic whites including Sparkling, Pinot Grigio, Semillon, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Rosé, lighter-bodied reds like Pinot Noir, Grenache, or an aged red.
Cheese and Wine Pairing Guide
Check out our cheese and wine pairing guide for a quick snapshot of best cheese and wine pairings.
Cheddar cheese is best paired with Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo or Rosé
Washed rind is best paired with vintage sparkling wine, or lighter red wine such as Barbera
Blue cheese is best paired with Muscat, Tokay, a Botrytis wine or Rosé
White mould cheese such as brie or camember is best paired with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Rosé or an aged red wine
CHEESY RECIPES PERFECT TO PAIR WITH WINE
So now you know what wines pair with what cheeses, it’s time to try out your newfound knowledge starting with 'How to prepare a crowd-pleasing cheese board'. However, there is of course, more to wine and cheese enjoyment –from soufflé to pasta, salad and dessert, cheese is one of the most deliciously diverse ingredients around. So, experiment, have fun and enjoy pairing wine with cheese.
LEARN MORE ABOUT WINE
If you’d like to take your wine and cheese pairing matching skills even further, come along to one of our fun, informative and flavour-packed masterclasses! We've also got some great Wine 101 videos for you to take your wine knowledge to the next level. Check out Adam Wall’s Wine Hints and Tips.