Cheese and wine. There’s no arguing they belong together. But there is a catch. While certain selections of cheese and wine are destined to be together forever, some partnerships can run decidedly cool. If you really want to get the best out of your pairings, it pays to do some planning.
There are no hard and fast rules, but there are 3 key principles to keep in mind, and a few things to avoid.
1. Match like with like
In general, it’s wise to match like with like in terms of age and intensity. Harder aged cheeses are really the only ones that can handle heavier reds, particularly if the tannins are prominent, while younger, fresher cheeses like similar wines. This can include reds, but keep them light.
2. Pungent cheese
The exception is really pungent (OK, stinky) cheeses, where it’s better to select contrasting lighter wines with restrained aromatics that will complement rather than compete.
3. Play around with texture
When it comes to texture, you can really play around. Soft creamy cheeses go just as well with like-minded oaky Chardonnays or contrasting sparkling wines. Brie and bubbles is another in the classic category.
It’s really a matter of experimenting and learning as you go. Treat it like a wine tasting. Place some cheese in your mouth, consider its characteristics and qualities on their own, then take a second bite and add wine. Does it work? Are the tastes and textures in sync?
If they are, remember the basic combination and work around the theme with some wines and cheeses in a similar vein. If it doesn’t, there are plenty more options to try.
With a little thought, you can showcase modern wines and cheeses in all their glory and you can take it in many directions – play it safe, push the boundaries or set your tastebuds a challenge.