The good news when it comes to pairing wines and cheese, is that there are so many great pairings opportunities, it’s a much easier task than food and wine. That said we have put together a list of basic pairing rules that you can apply to help you avoid some common mistakes, and to ensure you have a winning formula when creating your pairings.
When choosing cheeses for a pairing you should choose wines that are equal in intensity to match the flavours. For example, a stinky blue cheese is going to need something bold and powerful. A good rule of thumb is picking wines that have an alcohol level of 14.5% or over to match with big, flavoured cheeses, and around 12% fir more delicate cheeses.
Hard and aged cheeses such as gran Padano or parmigiana Reggiano require bold reds. The reason for this is that as cheese ages, it gradually loses moisture over time. This causes salt crystals to form on the cheese (in many cases), and certainly brings an intensity in profile as the cheese matures. We suggest choosing cheeses that have at least several months, or a year or more of aging. Try a few different aged cheddars (1-year, 2-year, 5-year) and see the difference as they age. Try these out with slightly different fruit levels, and different alcohol levels like an Amarone, or a California Cabernet Sauvignon.
To appreciate wines to their fullest its ideal to ensure you serve them at the correct temperature. Dry red wines are at their best between 14 and 20ºC, whereas light red, dry white and rosé wines at a temperature between 10 and 12ºC. For dessert wines, they are ideal at 8ºC, and sparkling wines or Champagne ideally should be served at 5 or 6ºC.
Cheeses that have a powerful aroma, like a Roquefort, should be paired with sweeter wines like a Sauternes that will balance out that strong funky taste, with a residual palate cleanse and finish neutral. The idea is the sweetness brings out the creamy tones in the cheese. Another great example is Port and Stilton cheese.
Try cheeses and wines that are made in the same region. Some examples would be Champagne and Brie, or Epoisses de Bourgogne with a crisp chardonnay. BC Sauvignon blanc and Okanagan goat cheese is another great pairing we love. If you like Spanish wine and cheese then Manchego and Garnacha (grenache in France and elsewhere outside Spain) are a terrific and satisfying pair.