Erik Neilson on September 12, 2016 0 Comments Wine is viewed by many as the perfect beverage for pairing with a meal. Throughout history, food and wine have been connected at the hip, far from being mutually exclusive from one another. There are plenty of foods that pair quite well with wines of all kinds, but cheese reigns supreme in terms of options and explosively delicious wine pairings. Experimenting with cheese and wine pairings can be a great deal of fun, but it’s helpful to start with some that are tried and true to gain an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Without further ado, here are 10 of the best cheese and wine pairings you can expect to encounter. 1. Camembert and Champagne With its slight funk and nutty edge, Camembert can be an epiphany — especially when baked. Because of its assertiveness, however, it can also be extremely difficult to pair with wines. Bubbles can help to lift the funkiness and bring balance to the cheese, and a sharp acidity will help to cut through its richness. Champagne, then, is the perfect pairing to match up with even the creamiest of Camembert. Find the Perfect Match for Your Favorite Cheese Here 2. Stilton and Port There are few cheeses that can match the pungent sharpness of Stilton, which is perhaps why it’s so effective when melted slightly atop a perfectly grilled steak. Similar to Camembert (but a much different cheese in its own right), Stilton’s strength can make it a difficult cheese to pair with wines. The luxurious texture and strong, “hot” flavor of port makes for an excellent pairing with the stinkiest of Stiltons, and the sweeter, the better. 3. Taleggio and Barbera Barbera wine is one of Italy’s most well kept secrets. On one hand, it’s the wine that many Sicilians find themselves drinking each night at the table. Wine lovers know Barbera, but casual wine drinkers are unfamiliar with the grape. It carries with it vanilla tones and fruit flavors that pair beautifully with the buttery, spreadable Taleggio native to the same country, and this is one of the most cost-conscious cheese and wine pairings you’ll ever stumble upon. 4. Garnacha and Manchego Keeping with the theme of pairing wines with cheeses from the same region, we have the pairing of Garnacha and Manchego. A relatively mild sheep’s milk cheese, Manchego plays well off of the light and friendly floral notes that Garnacha is typically characterized by. While the cheese is oddly capable of being paired with sharper wines, it’s best to avoid anything too heavy — Pinot Noir is another great option. 5. Bûcheron and Riesling Bûcheron is a very particular type of goat cheese produced in the Loire Valley of France. Semi-aged and ripened for between 5-10 weeks, it consists of a hard, flaky texture surrounded by gooey funkiness. A sweeter Riesling will match up with Bûcheron to create delectable flavors of pear and honey, best offset by a slice of good baguette. If you decide to go with a Bûcheron that has been aged considerably, move up in sweetness with the Riesling you choose. 6. Sauternes and Fondue Fondue (re: molten cheese) is one of the most savory, enjoyable party tricks to have ever come out of Switzerland. Endlessly customizable and exquisitely delicious, there are few reasons not to serve fondue at your next dinner party. What many people don’t realize is that fondue is often made with sauternes, which makes this sweet dessert wine an ideal pairing no matter what kind of cheese ends up in the melting pot. When serving Sauternes, it’s best to chill the wine to approximately 52 degrees. This will not only help to bring out its flavor but will also provide contrast to your fondue, offering guests that necessary break from the heat of the molten cheese. 7. Cabernet Sauvignon and Gouda Gouda is truly one of the oldest cheeses in the world, and there’s no getting around the fact that it’s deserving of a wine that packs a great deal of punch. For this cheese, most wine experts and sommeliers will reach for a rich Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s difficult to find cheeses that don’t pair with Cabernet, but Gouda’s slight smoky flavors and unique textures make this a match made in heaven. California is, of course, quite well known for producing high quality Cabernet. Don’t be afraid to try Cabs from other parts of the world, however, as the grape is truly capable of producing extremely varied wines. 8. Sauvignon Blanc and Chèvre It’s fair to say that chèvre is one of the grassiest, most lemony cheeses in the world — especially when produced with immense care and focus. Few wines can hold a candle to Sauvignon Blanc in terms of ability to match up with the finest of chèvre, with its lush tropical flavors and velvety mouthfeel. Looking to dive even deeper? Try pairing your favorite chèvre with the Sauvignon Blanc-based Sancerre for an even more intense combination. 9. Pinot Noir and Jarlsberg A Swiss-style Norwegian cheese, Jarlsberg is as delicious on its own as it is in a luxurious grilled cheese sandwich. With a mild funkiness, it craves nothing more than a light red with just enough acidity to provide adequate contrast. Pinot Noir is a great fit in this scenario, and just about any regionality will do. Note that some Pinots are lighter than others, with those on the darker end of the spectrum being a bit much for a cheese as mellow as Jarlsberg. When in doubt, go light for best results. 10. Zinfandel and Pecorino Hard cheeses can be quite difficult to pair with wines, given their precariously sharp and peppery nature. Peppery cheese begs for peppery wine, which is where Zinfandel comes in. A dry, spicy Zin will lift subtle, nutty earth tones from the Pecorino, providing you with a burst of flavor that can’t be achieved without combining the two. When choosing Zinfandel, California is a well-respected region to stick with. Don’t feel as if you need to go overboard in terms of price, either, as there are plenty of affordable Zins that are bursting with flavor and highly indicative of quality craftsmanship.