A Christmas Dinner: Wine and Cheese Pairing
It’s Christmas Eve; your guests are coming, and you do not know what to prepare, but this wine and cheese pairing guide will help you with the preparations – courtesy of Ed’s Tavern.
You can always grab the Stilton, some Brie and a splurge-worthy piece of Gouda of 4 years. We are at the time to pop the corks. Is there champagne or sparkling wine? Of course.
Let’s see … more wine?
The good news is that your guests do not care what you have on the table. Do not forget that this is Christmas Eve! Your friends want to party!
The bad news is that it’s all very complicated. Even though they do not care about what’s on the table, you always want to give them something good, and serve foods that combine with each other. Pairing cheese with wine is much harder than what you could initially think.
It would be easy if the types of wine and cheese were just one or two, but no. The variety is growing either regarding moisture content, fat content, texture, flavor, etc.
Wine also varies regarding acidity, sweetness, body, structure, etc.
There are some orientations that can guide you to success when it comes to pairing wine and cheese, which is great, because it’s time to celebrate.
Age and Intensity
Over time, the cheeses have to be kept dry and hard, while fresh have a milky and smooth texture and high water content. That comes with growing age, but the cheese also gains new flavors. We have an example, the Bloomy-rind cheeses, Gruyère, and Emmental.
Another example is the blue cheese that develop poignancy in its veins. Like the cheese, young wines are also fresh with aromas and lively flavors, flowers, citrus, herbs, etc. Those who have spent time in the cask or bottle, get more nuance.
Here’s a wine and cheese pairing tip:
As cheese, these wines tend to be more complex and savory than their younger counterparts. We can easily see how young cheeses can best partner with wines that are juicy, fruity, fresh and sparkling wine-spirited, crisp whites and dried roses, and reds with good acidity and lively fruit.
The older cheeses, those that are the most delicious and creamy and nutty, pair best with wines that have a large body and structure, and perhaps oxidative notes, too.
Putting all this together, we got the first rule of wine and cheese pairing: Pair the intensity of flavor, and consider the intensity correlation with age.
Essential Pairing Tips:
But if you think that age is the only factor to bear in mind, you’re truly mistaken. A cheese’s texture, flavor, and pungency also influence the pairing with wine in its structure and sweetness. Keep in mind the following notes:
Watch Those Tannins:
Red wines are good tannins, rich because their tannins usually bind up the proteins and fats, cleaning on your palate after each bite. If you must serve red wine with young cheeses, reach for one low in tannin, like Beaujolais or sparkling red Lambrusco.
Sweet and Salty:
Sweet wines usually go well with very salty cheeses such as Grana hard, Blue cheese, etc. The salt in the cheese, perception increases the sweetness of the wine, and thus makes a good pairing.
Cheese with fruit and nuts
There is a reason to pair both. Fruits usually have natural sugar, which works very well with cheeses that are young, like Brie.
If you have any doubts, try to imagine the food that best pairs with the cheese, and let that guide you to the right wine.
Typically, wine and cheese pairing guides will tell you creamy cheeses blend well with white wines, creating a feeling of perfect harmony of taste. But the contrast can also be interesting. Sparkling wines usually represent an excellent counterpoint to a rich cheese. Camembert and champagne are a classic and fantastic combination.
What grows together goes together:
Following this adage, French goat cheese from the Loire is gorgeous with Sancerre Loire; the grassy, mineral qualities of the wine perfectly complement these flavors in the cheese.
Red Burgundy’s natural Époisses with the creamy cow’s milk cheese whose rind is washed with a brandy made from Burgundian grape skins.
Manchego, a Spanish hard sheep’s milk cheese, is great with BOTH Sherry and buxom, grapy Monastrell from southern Spain.
Matching by region does not always work flawlessly; I would not serve fresh Loire goat cheese with a tannic Loire Cabernet Franc but by pairing terroir you can be at a great place to start.
Get to the Wine and Cheese Pairing Cheat Sheet Already!
Here is a guide on how to pair the best wine with the best cheese!
Fresh and Soft Cheeses:
Fresh and sweet cheeses usually blend well with sparkling wines, dry wines appetizers, and light reds. Wine with apple, berries, fruits, tropical fruits, melon, or wrapping other flavors, usually function better. Avoid red wines that are tannic, like Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends.
Cheeses: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Burrata, Chevre, Feta, Halloumi, Brie, Camembert, Brillat-Savarin, Crottin, Bûcheron
Pair with: Riesling (dry to sweet), Gewürztraminer, Moscato, Champagne, Cava, Chablis, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Albariño, Grüner Veltliner, unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Provençal rosé Beaujolais, Lambrusco, White Port, Fino sherry
Semi-Hard, Medium Aged Cheeses:
These cheeses have a firm texture and much stronger flavors. They are well served with medium-bodied white wine, fruity reds, vintage sparkling wines and aperitifs that offer a balance between acidity, fruit, and tannins.
Cheeses: Havarti, Edam, Emmental, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, young Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Manchego, Tomme d’Alsace
Pair with: Chardonnay, white Burgundy, white Bordeaux, Pinot Blanc, Viognier, white Rhône blends, Riesling (off-dry), Gewürztraminer, Champagne, Red Burgundy, Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Dolcetto, Barbera, Zinfandel, Merlot, Vintage Port, young Tawny Port, Amontillado sherry
Cheeses are smelly that require light wines, incorporated with aromas that complement, making them a fantastic essence.
Cheeses: Epoisses, Taleggio, Morbier
Pair with: Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauternes, Red Burgundy, Pinot Noir
Blue cheeses need wines with BOTH oomph and sweetness to balance Their bold flavors and Usually very salty, savory body.
Cheeses: Stilton, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Cambozola, Bleu d’Auvergne
Pair with: Red Port, Tawny Port, Sauternes, Oloroso sherry, Banyuls, Recioto, Tokaji
Hard cheeses are the soul mate of white and tannic red wines. Your nutrition also works with oxidative wines like sherry, and its salt levels become fitting for sweet wines.
Cheeses: Aged Cheddar, Cheshire, Comté, aged Gruyere, aged Gouda, Pecorino, Manchego, Asiago, Parmigiano Reggiano
Pair with: Aged white Burgundy or Bordeaux, white Rhône blends, sweet Riesling, Viognier, vintage Champagne, Vin Jaune, red Burgundy, Red Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Petite Sirah, California red blends, red Rhone blends, Zinfandel, red Port, Tawny Port, Madeira, Sauternes, Oloroso sherry.
Wines That Have it All:
It’s always fun to open some bottles of wine or champagne and celebrate with a variety of cheeses, but if you just want wine with a mixed platter of cheeses, try the Riesling, especially off-dry.
It is the wine in alcohol, its acidity, sweetness, fruit and makes it the best partner for your cheese. It is dry with a delicate body, but its floral aromas will float ethereally above the savory notes of all cheeses.
Sparkling wines, dry to sweet, almost always work well, too.
Its ample acidity and toasty, nutty flavors complement cheese fresh by age. A mixed cheese platter is a great excuse to open another bottle Champagne as if you needed one.
We hope you enjoyed this wine and cheese pairing guide, keep on tuned for more great content and leave us your opinion on the comment section.