Comforting and delicious, cheese is the perfect accompaniment to wine. But which wine should you serve with that delightful, oozing wedge of triple cream brie, or that tasty cheddar or fragrant stilton? Here are a few tips for creating the perfect wine and cheese pairing:
Pair sparkling wines with creamy and/or salty cheeses.
With the holidays approaching, we'll be drinking more bubbly in the coming months, so rest assured: These wines pair brilliantly with a wide variety of cheeses. The bubbles cut through a cheese's rich, creamy texture, and the yeasty, toasty quality of many sparkling wines complements tangy, salty flavors. The fruitiness of a rosé sparkler is an added bonus!
Try the J. Vineyards Brut Rosé ($36) with Humboldt Fog, a salty, creamy goat's milk cheese from California.
Pair fruitier wines with cheese.
When it come to pairing wine and cheese, fruitiness equals friendliness for both red and white wines. A fruity component in a wine adds an extra layer of complexity to the pairing experience, whereas wines that are very dry and earthy can make some cheeses taste bitter. So if you plan on serving a variety of cheeses, a fruity red or white wine will often be your best bet!
Try the 2014 Round Pond Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($20) with a fresh, tangy chèvre.
Pair the weight and texture of wine and cheese
When it comes to pairings, balance is key. Items of similar weight will not overpower one other and are more likely to create harmony. The texture of a cheese is also an important window into a great pairing. For instance, a creamy, viscous cheese like Brie pairs beautifully with a creamy, buttery Chardonnay. Similarly, a semi-hard cheese like cheddar is a wonderful match for a medium-bodied Zinfandel.
Try the classic pairing of a 2006 Montecillo Rioja Gran Reserva ($28) from Spain with a nutty, aged Manchego.
Pair wines and cheeses with opposite flavors
Opposites really do attract. If you’re a fan of sweet and salty flavors together, this is perfect pairing for you. As long as the saltiness and sweetness of both the cheese and wine are in balance, your palate is in for a real treat. Classic "opposite" cheese and wine pairings include Roquefort and Sauternes as well as Stilton and Port.
Try the 2012 Michele Chiarlo Moscato d'Asti Nivole ($14) from Italy's Piedmont region with a semi-soft blue cheese.
Stephanie Miskew is a certified sommelier, wine educator and proprietor of The Wine Atelier, an online wine boutique. She also runs the The Glamorous Gourmet, a website dedicated to wine and entertaining.