Cheese and wine have a lot in common!
They are soul mates, and when properly combined, they elevate each other to a new level of gastronomic pleasure!
Finding the right match between wine and cheese can produce a unique flavor match that goes beyond purely scientific selection methods.
This affinity is undoubtedly due to their intrinsic characteristics. Both wine and cheese are closely linked to their origin, cultural identity and the local traditions of their place of origin.
They too are made from a natural element (grapes and milk) which is then transformed (alcoholic fermentation and coagulation); both mature, age and die, each in its own way, depending on the type.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean we can impute them at random.
Cheese, like wine, can be very varied and eclectic; it can be made from different types of milk and in different ways, creating very different flavors and aromas, so it’s important to take this into account before associating wine and cheese.
What to watch out for when combining cheese and wine
Some of the most important factors to evaluate when pairing wine and cheese:
- the type of milk (cow, goat, sheep, buffalo or mixed).
- The consistency of the cheese (fresh, soft, semi-hard or hard).
- Appearance (with or without rind, with dry rind, washed rind, ripe rub, blue cheese).
- Fat content (double fat (minimum 65 %), fat (45 %), three-quarters fat (35 %), half fat (25 %) and lean, with less than 15 % fat).
So let’s look at the main categories of cheese and I’ll give you my suggestions for the right wine to taste.
The goat cheese was the first in history. They are manufactured at 800 b. Chr. back and they arrived in 730 AD. Chr. with the invasion of Poitiers by the Moors in France.
This type of cheese tends to be creamy and fresh, slightly salty, with interesting acidity.
Goes very well with dry white wines and roses. In general, however, fresh white wines with delicate acidity and sweetness are the best choice, especially Sauvignon Blanc, Malvoisie and Müller Thurgau.
Try them: Ladoucette Comte Lafond Sancerre 2013, France About the wine: Produced by Baron Patrick de Ladoucet between 25 and 35 years old, this Sancerre has a surprising aromatic intensity on the nose with notes of white flowers such as hawthorn, acacia, rosehip and elderflower.
In the mouth, it is lively with very pleasant acidic qualities, prolonged by light fruity notes. It is filled with a refreshing finish dominated by the shocking stones typical of Sancerre’s best wines.
In a soft cheese like Brie, the mouldy white rind is the most intense ingredient from an organoleptic point of view.
This type of cheese therefore needs a wine that harmonizes with its specific taste, which almost resembles a mushroom.
Ideal with well filtered white wines, characterized by a fruity acidity, but not too young.
Light wines with low alcohol content are possible, while wines aged in oak barrels are less suitable, as mould contains slightly bitter substances that can give the wine an excess of tannins.
Perfect, preferably together with a dry, light and crisp sparkling wine.
Try them: Cava Avinyó Brut Reserva NV, Spain
About the wine: The classic blend of Macabeu, Parellada, Xarello is produced in the Penedes region of Spain. The wine is made according to the Champagne method and matures on the lees for 18 to 22 months.
It has bright white fruit combined with delicate notes of toasted bread. In the mouth, the wine is fresh and brilliant.
Cheese rubbed and sprinkled with water
This is a broad category that includes all soft cheeses whose rind is periodically treated with saline solutions or, alternatively, with beer or brandy.
This prevents the formation of fungi and promotes a certain type of bacteria, which give the skin a typical penetrating and persistent taste.
Camembert, Munster and Taleggio are all part of this group.
In this case, the best partner is a sweet and fruity Pinot Noir with a rich bouquet, low tannins and perhaps some earthy notes.
Try them: Chris Pinot Noir 2011, Italy
About the wine: Dark ruby in color with purple reflections, this wine has enticing aromas of blackberry and red forest fruits.
The aromas are dominated by red and black fruits, followed by subtle earth and firm but very soft tannins.
Semi hard and hard cheeses
Semi-hard and hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Comté, Parmesan or Pecorino are often characterised by a longer maturation period and a saltier taste.
The Pecorino family, for example, is made from sheep’s milk and includes a wide range of products, each with its own style and aging in its own way, so it can be difficult to find a single wine suitable for use.
However, it is generally preferred to be paired with aged white or red wines (especially for Pecorino).
A good rule of thumb is also to respect the territorial bond and take into account the consistency of the cheese. The drier, harder and sharper the cheese, the more alcoholic and tannic the wine.
Harder, thicker and velvety cheeses can also be paired with white wines aged in oak barrels.
Try the Pecorino: Palazzo e Fiori Cannonau di Sardegna 2012, Italy
About the wine: Made on the island of Sardinia from locally grown Cannonau grapes, this wine is ideal for a relatively young Pecorino.
It has a beautiful ruby color, not too intense, with fresh and immediate nuances of ripe red fruit and vegetal notes.
The taste is dry and sweet, but characterized by a good structure and olfactory persistence.
Try counting: William Fevre Bougros Cote Bouguerots Chablis Grand Cru 2009
About the wine: This Grand Cru de Chablis is without doubt a great wine, powerful and dense, with a complex bouquet, round on the palate and solid minerality. The perfect partner for a crazy, velvety old count.
Blue cheeses, including Gorgonzola, Stilton and Roquefort, have an intense inherent sweetness because the fat is broken down into glycerol and fatty acids during production.
Moulds are formed by the formation of coloured mycelia from mould cultures (mainly of the genus Penicillium) which are grafted to cheese.
Therefore, as with desserts, it is important to find a balance between sweet cheese and wine, and the best option is undoubtedly a dessert wine such as Trockenbeerenauslese or German Beerenauslese, EisWein, Sauternes or Tokaji.
Try them: Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonios 2008
About the wine: This noble wine, produced by one of the most renowned producers in Hungary, is a true pleasure, characterised by its rich amber colour and surprising complexity.
It shows a nose of tropical fruits, figs and cinnamon. On the palate, the sweetness is perfectly balanced with lively acidity. Long, juicy and velvety, it also has tremendous aging potential.
All you have to do now……
…is to try. Invite friends over for dinner, choose a good selection of cheeses and wines, take them home, take them out of the fridge about an hour before the meal (to allow the flavours to develop optimally), open the bottles and….ENJOY – the most exquisite gastronomic combination !!!!
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