Sarah on May 1, 2014 4 Comments Pairing wine with cheese is an age-old practice. While the possibilities are endless, it is important to take a few things into consideration to get just the right combination. Factors such as tannins, fat, acidity and texture will all play a role in how well cheese goes with your favorite wine. Whether you are hosting a party or simply taking in the great outdoors with a glass and a wedge, here are a few suggestions for coupling these two culinary delights. Know Your Cheese The first step is to understand a little bit more about cheese. If you already know your wine well, learning a bit more about cheese will help you pair correctly. Generally speaking, you can classify cheese into four groups: Bloomy Cheese: These are cheeses that have a soft rind and are creamy, like brie, robiola and taleggio. Blue Cheese: Salty cheeses that are pungent, such as cambozola, blue, stilton and gorgonzola, make up this group. Hard Cheese: Sharp and salty cheeses like gouda, parmesan, gruyere and fontina are considered hard and can usually be aged. Fresh Cheese: Goat, feta, burrata, mozzarella and ricotta are among these soft, spreadable cheeses that typically are not aged. How to Pair Cheese to Wine When in doubt, it is usually safe to pair wines and cheeses from the same region. If you have a great parmesan, for example, pair it with an Italian Chianti. If you have a cheese you enjoy, such as brie, take into account its class. The best pairings are the ones that draw a contrast between the flavors of the wine and cheese. Brie is a soft, creamy cheese, which means it will go well with a lush, acidic wine, like Chardonnay. Harder cheeses go better with wines that are more tannic, and salty cheeses go well with sweet wine. Because every palate is different, you may find that you prefer certain pairings over others. To find the right combination: Take a bite of the cheese by itself to assess its taste. Take another bite and hold it in your mouth with the wine. Consider how the two mingle together to determine if it’s a match. How to Pair Wine to Cheese Many people say that cheese pairs best with white wines. This is because whites lack tannins which tend to be tough on cheese. Additionally, white wines are more acidic, which combines well with most cheeses. However, if you do enjoy red, light-bodied bottles go well with many cheeses, as well as wines that are not aged. In general, light wines go well with light food, so light cheese goes better with lighter wines. Similarly, hard cheeses will pair better with reds. If you know your wine well and simply want a good match, consider these suggestions: Cabernet Sauvignon: Pair it with cheddar, Colby, gouda or Roquefort. Merlot:Goes well with gouda, gorgonzola, brie, Jarlsberg or parmesan. Cabernet Franc: Bloomy cheeses like brie, camembert or blue as well as goat and gorgonzola. Syrah: Consider cheddar, edam, parmesan and gouda. Pinot Noir: Try it with feta, Monterey jack, muenster, Swiss or brie. Malbec: Taleggio, manchego and hard cheeses like gouda and fontina. Chardonnay: Pairs well with brie, goat cheese, parmesan and provolone. Sangiovese: Goes well with blue, fontina, mozzarella and parmesan. Zinfandel: Grab some gruyere, gouda, asiago, muenster or blue cheese. Pinot Grigio: Right with ricotta, feta or camembert. Sauvignon Blanc: Couple it with some fresh mozzarella, asiago, feta and goat cheese. A fail-safe choice will always be a blue cheese mixed with sweet wines. This is essentially a wine and cheese pairing made in heaven. If you enjoy port wine or moscato, grab some Roquefort and gorgonzola. You can play with other types as well, as you can rarely go wrong with selections from these two categories. Party Time! Hosting a wine and cheese party? Head to a gourmet cheese store and consult with the staff for recommendations to pick up several cheeses that will go well with the wine you are serving. Here are a few tips for making your party a success: Cheese should be removed from the refrigerator an hour before you serve it. White wine should be chilled to 45° Fahrenheit. Red wine should be served at 60° Fahrenheit. If you really want to impress your friends, or even surprise yourself, follow these rules for pairings. The flavors in the cheese and wine will complement each other to enhance their taste. Play with the combinations within these guidelines to find the pairing that you like best.