Wine and cheese pairings are iconic. There is just something extraordinary about combining the flavors of aged cheese and a great glass of wine. Many people know that wine and cheese are a famous couple, but knowing where to begin can be challenging. A simple guideline to keep in mind when matching wines and cheese is that you should try and pair bold flavors with other bold flavors.
If you’re sampling a hard, aged cheese with a challenging rind, you probably shouldn’t pair that with a subtle and easily overpowered wine. Bold flavored cheeses should be paired with bold flavored wines. Whether you’re taking your first steps into the wide world of wines and cheeses or looking for new roads to travel, here is a look at some great wine and cheese pairings to explore.
The flavor of hard cheese is typically classified as sharp. These cheeses aren’t as challenging as what some people might call a “stinky cheese,” but they can have aggressive flavors. Parmigiano, Cheddar, and Pecorino Romano are all hard cheeses that have bold flavors. These cheeses could easily overwhelm a more subtle wine if incorrectly paired.
A wine that would be well suited to accompany a hard cheese is one that is equally bold without being unfamiliar. A red wine such as a Cabernet or Merlot would nicely compliment the flavors of hard cheese. These wines are forward enough to compliment a hard cheese with equally robust flavors.
Soft cheeses are creamy and delicate. These cheeses are often spread over crackers or meats when eaten. Brie Cheese, Gorgonzola, Goat Cheese, and Camembert are all examples of soft cheeses. The most notable flavors of soft cheese are typically butter, cream, and milk. The more subtle flavor profile of a soft cheese would pair best with an equally nuanced wine.
White wine like a Riesling with sweet, fruity flavors would pair nicely with virtually any soft cheese. Additionally, a Moscato or Zinfandel would be well suited to accompany a softer cheese with modest flavors.
These are the funky cheeses. The technical term for these cheeses is “washed-rind cheese,” though the more colloquial term for them is “stinky cheese.” Limburger, Epoisses, and Ardrahan are examples of stinky cheeses. The aroma and flavor of these cheeses can be downright overpowering, especially for novices.
If we apply our wine and cheese rule to these cheeses, we should find a wine that features a flavor profile equal to the cheese with which it’s paired. For stinky cheeses, Spanish wines like Grenache or Tempranillo often have complex profiles that would pair beautifully with complex, washed-rind cheeses.