Wine and cheese – a perfect pairing

Choose the right wines to accompany cheese.

Choose the right wines to accompany cheese. - Credit: Archant

As a cheese and a wine lover I often enjoy the two together as an easy light meal in itself or to finish a meal. It’s not easy to find the right wine to complement the cheese though as both cheese and wine have flavours and textures that change with age, temperature and the moment!

An ideal solution would be to have a selection of both to mix and match and be prepared to change one’s mind whilst trying them. Traditional pairings such as Port or claret with stilton are not necessarily the best when trying cheeses with dessert wines, dry whites and young reds.

Claret or Port and stilton are often paired together but the richness and ‘bite’ of the cheese create a jarring flavour on the palate.

Dessert wines are often chosen as the stars when you have a range of wines available to match a platter of different cheeses. for example dessert wines with stilton and other blue cheeses (but not a salty Roquefort!) because of their complexity and richness; hard cheeses like cheddar and good red Leicester are a good match with more robust tannic wines too.

A classic Sauternes such as Chateau Filhot or Monbazillac such as Domaine de Grangeneuve or a botrytis Viognier from Australia if you’re feeling adventurous.

If you prefer port at the end of the meal try a tawny port such as the spirituous silky ones made by Grahams with an infused citrussy zesty note that complements the blue cheese flavours of stilton and Roquefort.

Goat’s cheese varies from light, young flavours to the mature, slightly nutty notes and each require different wines for the best combination.

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A Sauvignon Blanc from France such as Touraine Sauvignon, Chile or from New Zealand such as Makutu are a lovely match to the acidity of the young goat’s cheese.

A harder mature cheese would be best matched with dry Viognier based wine from Viu Manent in Chile or Mont Rocher in the south of France.

Some of the cheeses that are tricky to match with wine are soft white rinded ones including Brie and Camembert though a vibrant yet soft and youthful fruity Chilean Merlot, a light fruity Beaujolais or a ripe fruity non classic Pinot Noir from the South of France would be an ideal match.

Crisp dry Pecorino from Italy is a surprisingly good match with cheese as is Champagne which is great with Camembert and a lightly oaked Chardonnay is lovely with Chaume.

Gewurztraminer is an obvious choice with intense pungent cheese such as Munster and Pont l’Eveque otherwise it is hard to match them with a wine.

If you decide to serve a red wine with the cheese course try a mature wine such as a Crianza or Reserva Rioja as the oak aging will soften the tannin notes and is great when served with a strong. Tannic red wines are delicious with rich, aged cheeses, because their tannins work with them and clean the palate.

My latest find has been Beemster, a Dutch Gouda cheese that is rich, creamy and with natural sweetness and which becomes nutty and crumbly with age, with a red dessert wine – Domaine de Beaurenard Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel – a stunning combination to try.