What Wines Go With Cheese? 10 Great Pairings
Pairing wine with cheese is a classic. You don’t have to be an expert to know experts often serve cheese with their goodness. But what wines go with cheese?
There is a general misconception among enthusiasts that cheese pairs with red wines. This is true up to an extent, in that some cheeses pair with red wine. Likewise, other cheeses pair with white wine and some even go wonderfully with a bubbly Prosecco or Champagne.
Serving cheese on a platter with whatever wine comes at hand is a mistake. To help you with your choice, I’ve put together this guide featuring some of the most popular but also some of the least popular wines you can pair with your cheese dinner. Enjoy!
Chardonnay is no doubt one of the most popular white wines. Its subtle flavors and slightly oaked aromas allow soft cheese like creamy camembert and brie to shine. These surface ripened cheeses are ultra-creamy, and their hints of wild mushrooms and earthy flavors go perfectly with the fruity hints of a light Chardonnay.
Avoid choosing a too aged wine though. A young or moderately oaked beverage works best with these cheeses.
To get the most out from your combination, pair these cheeses with a cooler climate Chardonnay, such as one coming from New Zealand, the Russian River Valley or Sonoma Coast. These wines have a higher acidity than their warm climate counterparts which cuts through the creamy richness of the cheese.
In an alternative to Chardonnay, you could pair your delicious creamy cheeses with Prosecco, Ice Wine, or Champagne.
#2 Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc is another great white wine that appeals to wine lovers all over the world. This beverage is characterized by a fruity, greasy flavor that pairs well with a more sapid cheese, such as an aged goat cheese.
There is no wonder why this combination is a winner. Sauvignon Blanc originates from France, such as the goat cheese that pairs so heavenly with this wine.
Perhaps your winner combination could be a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc paired with goat cheese from the same area. And if you’re not such a fan of Sauvignon but love the goat cheese, pair it with a dry Riesling, a Semillon, or a Chenin Blanc.
The Portuguese island of Madeira is famous not only for its wine but also for its exquisite sheep cheese. So, you shouldn’t question why these two delicacies pair so perfectly.
One of your best bets is a softer sheep cheese, such as the Brebis. This full-fat firm style cheese, including Cabrales and Etorki, is characterized by a delicate savor that goes wonderfully with the tangy, smoky aromas of Madeira wine.
The fruit-cake aftertaste and high acidity of this wine also cut through the richness of the cheese, enhancing the tangy sheep milk flavor.
This type of cheese is hard to pair with any other wine, but you could still match it with a different fortified, such as a dry Marsala.
Still in Portugal, we’re off to the discovery of another popular fortified wine, Port. This goodness is obtained from red grapes and is characterized by a unique sweetness that pairs wonderfully with the saltiness of the blue cheese.
Experts swear by the combination between stilton, an English blue veined cheese, and Port; and I can only say it is amazing.
But Port doesn’t pair with this cheese because it’s red, it pairs because it’s sweet and highly alcoholic.
So, if you don’t like Port but still want to pair your blue cheese with wine like a pro, opt for a sweet white instead. Some amazing pairings include the German or Austrian late harvest Ice Wine, a Hungarian Tokaji or a rich Sauternes.
Remaining in the influence of sweet wines, a popular choice among wine lovers is the Gewürztraminer, an aromatic wine impressing with flavorful aromas of citrus and pineapple with hints of lychees and other tropical fruits.
The characteristic sweetness of this wine pairs wonderfully with the saltiness of brine-cured soft cheeses, such as feta or Danish white cheese.
Both these kinds of cheese are characterized by nutty flavors that back up their saltiness, and the sweetness of the wine does nothing but enhance those flavors. A great alternative to the wine is a sweet white Moscato, a Riesling or a sweet Tokaji.
#6 Pinot Noir
One of the red wines that best pair with cheese is Pinot Noir, a beverage characterized by a medium to full body, a light content of tannins and aromas reminding of plums, berries, and other red fruits.
Despite being a red, Pinot Noir is versatile enough to pair with a wide range of cheeses. Its lighter character goes wonderfully with soft, fresh Italian cheese like mozzarella, ricotta, or burrata.
At the same time, Pinot Noir complements the earthy flavors of a brie or camembert cheese, as well as those of a soft goat delicacy. Washed rind cheese, including taleggio and fontina, also pair wonderfully with a Pinot Noir, not to mention the delicious baked or fondue cheese, including Swiss’ signature dish, the raclette.
No doubt, if you’re unsure which wine goes with cheese and you enjoy any of the cheese varieties above, Pinot Noir could be your best bet.
#7 Chenin Blanc
Chenin Blanc is a restrained, dry, and light-bodied wine that complements with success the creaminess of the bloomy cheese.
This wine comes in many styles with colors varying from pale straw to amber. Characterized by apple and pear aromas blending with lemon curd and nutmeg flavors, Chenin Blanc is mostly produced in South Africa and France.
It best pairs with French cheeses like camembert and brie, which favors are enhanced by the acidity and inherently sweet flavor of the wine. Semi-firm cow cheese and herb-crusted goat cheese, Cheddar, cream cheese and Gruyere are other milk-derived delicacies to serve with your Chenin.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the wine, pair these cheeses with an unoaked Chardonnay, a young Riesling, or brut Champagne. And if you’re more of a red wine person, place your bet on a Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir.
#8 Pinot Gris
Pinot Gris is one of the most surprising wines. Vinified from a red grape variety, this beverage is characterized by citrus flavors and a zesty acidity that pairs wonderfully with a wide range of cheeses.
The primary aromas are lemon, pair, and white nectarine, with a saline-like minerality. A medium to medium-high acidity and aromas of honeysuckle, ginger, and clove pair perfectly with semi-soft and hard cow’s and sheep’s milk cheese.
A few winning pairings include fontina, taleggio, Reblochon, gouda, provolone, edam, and Havarti, a creamy-buttery cheese with a character that gets sharper and stronger as the cheese ages.
Grana Padano, parmesan cheese and salty aged pecorino are other cheeses that go wonderfully with an Italian or French Pinot Gris.
Spain’s signature red wine, the Rioja, is another beverage to pair with a variety of cheeses. From softer semi-firm cheese to aged parmesan, this wine complements a bouquet of flavors.
Perhaps the most interesting combination between Rioja and cheese is given by a hard cheese, like an aged Cheddar, parmesan, and pecorino. But this is not your only choice.
Rioja also pairs with semi-firm cheese. A great pairing is with Gruyere, either raw or melted atop of a delicious onion soup. Gouda and Mimolette are two other interesting choices to pair with this bold red wine.
As an alternative to Rioja, you can pair your cheeses with a Chianti Classic, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, or Bordeaux.
#10 Pinot Blanc
A crisp, dry, and light-bodied white like Pinot Blanc is a great choice for a selection of cheeses and the last wine I recommend in this list. Its high acidity and fruity flavors make it ideal to pair with mild-flavored cheeses, including Swiss cheese, Leicester cheese, Doux de Montagne, and Emmental.
The wine also goes wonderfully with baked, grilled, and fondue cheese. Pair your Pinot Blanc with a delicious Swiss raclette or with a French cheese toast. Italian-style grilled caciocavallo or smoked scamorza are two other kinds of cheese that pair wonderfully with this wine.
Baked camembert may sound crazy for a dish, but the melted delicacy also goes heavenly with this wine.
If you like the cheese pairings but wondering which other wines go with this selection of cheese, you can also try an Alpine white wine like Chignin or Swiss Chasselas. Muscadet and Chablis are two other interesting choices, or if you’d prefer a red, opt for a young Pinot Noir.
Many enthusiasts novices believe pairing wine with cheese is simple. The truth? Pairing the wrong wine and cheese can result in an awful tasting experience. Various cheeses go with various wines, but regardless of your choice, now you know what wines go with cheese.
All you have to do is to consult this list every time when you’re in doubt. By following my tips, you can certainly find that winning combination that will leave your guests speechless. Bon appetite!