If you're hosting a wine tasting, celebrating a holiday, or simply sitting down at home, pairing wine and cheese can be fun and pleasurable. While you can always pair whichever wines and cheeses you'd like based on your own taste, particular wine and cheese pairings can form delectable combinations. The same way you'd consider the various facets of wine when selecting it to drink, you should also consider texture, fat content, age, acidity, and flavor when choosing which cheese to eat with a wine.
Bleu cheese is pungent in both smell and flavor which only intensifies with age. Though there are some more mellow bleu cheeses, their characteristic sweetness, sharpness, and tanginess distinguish them from any other cheese. Because of their bold flavors, it's good to pair them with sweet and dessert wines like red Port, tawny port, Sauternes, or Sherry. California Zinfandels also pair well with bleu cheese that is saltier.
Fresh cheeses, like chevre, feta, mozzarella, brie, and camembert work great with crisp white wines, dry rosés, sparkling wine, and light bodied reds. Champagne and camembert is one of the classic wine and cheese pairings because the bubbles of sparkling wine help cleanse the palate of the rich camembert, leaving you wanting more cheese!
Semi-hard and medium aged cheeses such as Havarti, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Monterey Jack, and Manchego pair well with medium bodied white wines and fruity red wines. Because of their firmer texture and stronger flavors, these wine and cheese pairings work with Chardonnay, white Burgundy, white Bordeaux, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and off-dry Riesling, to name a few.
Hard cheeses like aged cheddar, aged Gouda, Pecorino, Asiago, and Parmigiano Reggiano are often nutty and salty. Because of this, full bodied white and tannic red wines are great wine and cheese pairings. These cheeses are also somewhat versatile in that they pair well with sweet wines and sherry as well. Match them with sweet Riesling, vintage Champagne, California red blends, Zinfandel, and red and Tawny Port.
Complement your wine and cheese with fruit like apples and grapes and nuts like almonds. Add them as a flourish to your cheese tray to delight your guests. Have fun pairing wine and cheese that you may not think work well together – you may find something you really enjoy!