Matching Wine and Cheese

wine and cheese matching

One of the longest standing wine and food partnerships is that of cheese and wine. It dates back 6000 years, almost as old as recorded history. Wine is the classic companion for cheese and both complement each other superbly. The fat content of cheese coats the taste buds and makes wine appear to be much smoother and tastier than it is in reality.

Most Mediterranean countries produce both wine and cheese. Generally, foods and wines produced in a region complement each other admirably well. The saying ” What grows together, goes well together ” seems to apply here more than in other circumstances.

However, there are many European cheese-producing countries that are too cold for grape growing. England, Scotland, Belgium, all Scandinavian countries are some that come to mind. England does produce some wine but generally too little to mention.

In such instances, knowing the taste of cheeses and wines helps make successful decisions.

wine and cheese matchingCheeses fall into four categories:

  • Soft
  • Semi-soft
  • Hard
  • Blue veined

All have different tastes and textures depending on milk quality, and production techniques.

Generally, soft cheeses, such as Camembert, Brie, Triple Cream, Taleggio, Mascarpone, just to name a few, are mild and should be matched with mild white wines. Tannic wines are generally inappropriate for cheese. Young Beaujolais, soft, fruity Pinot Noir wines and Gamays are fine as they contain very little tannin. Old red wines and those from Australia displaying very soft tannins are also fine with cheeses. Mature, unwooded white wines go well with mild cheeses.

It is important to remember to serve wines not too cold when pairing with cheese for the fat will solidify when the cold wine hits the palate.

A champagne, or, for that matter, dry sparkling wine, is fine with an ewe’s milk cheese while a fruity, full-bodied Pinot Noir sparkling wine may blend well with a chunk of Parmiggiano Reggiano.

wine and cheese pairingSemi-soft cheeses tend to be more assertive and could stand well-made rose wines, light reds such as Beaujolais, but also cask aged, flavourful white wines. Some popular semi-soft cheeses are Oka, St. Paulin, Comte, Cantal, Bel Paese, Mozzarella di Buffala, Havarti, Buttercheese, Cacciocavallo, Tetilla and Monterey Jack.

Hard cheeses are aged and, generally, possess stronger flavours. They require full-bodied, deeply flavoured wines that can complement and enhance them. Popular hard cheeses are Cheddar, Brick, Hermitage, Edam, Gouda, Emmental, Gruyere, Pecorino, Parmigiano, Manchego, Iberico and Gravyera.

Blue veined cheeses are generally regarded as the aristocrats of the cheese world. They possess a distinct taste, creamy texture, and tang. They may be crumbly too. They are always more flavourful than other cheeses. Selection criteria depend on personal preferences. Some of the most popular blue veined cheeses are Roquefort, Stilton, Danish Blue, Cambozola, Bleu d’Auvergne, Gex, St Fleur, Cabrales, Gamoneu, Gorgonzola, and Shropshire blue.

Hard cheeses store much longer and can be frozen successfully. Soft or semi-soft cheeses stores less well and should not be frozen.

Regardless of quality all cheese must be consumed at room temperature, approximately 16 – 18C, with appropriate breads, biscuits, nuts and fruits. Needless to say all good cheeses benefit from appropriately chosen wines.

Soft Cheeses

Ibores, Torta de la Serena, Brie Camembert, Triple Cream, Tallegio, Mascarpone, Caree de l’Est, Boursin, Boursault, and Chaource

Types of Ontario Wines Recommended

Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Aligote, Riesling, Vidal, Pinot Grigio (Gris).

Semi-Soft Cheeses

Garrotxa, Manchego, Iberico, Majorero, Zamorano, Afuegal Pitu, San Simon Oka, St. Paulin, Comte, Cantak, Bel Paese, Mozzarella di Buffala, Havarti, Monterey Jack, Buttercheese

Types of Ontario Wines Recommended

Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio (Gris).

Hard Cheeses

Brick, Hermitage, Old Cheddar, Edam, Gouda, Emmenthal, Gruyere, Kasheri, Parmigiano, Grana Padano, Appenzeller, Smoked Idiazabal, Mahon, Munster, Pecorino, Murcia al Vino, Jarlsberg, Asiago

Types of Ontario Wines Recommended

Pinot Noir, Baco Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz

Blue Veined Cheeses

Danish Blue, Gorgonzola, Cambozola, Roquefort, Stilton, Bleu d’Auvergne, Cabrales

Types of Ontario Wines Recommended

Late Harvest Vidal

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