A sip of wine, a bite of cheese – you’ve found heaven. Yes, two of the world’s greatest culinary delights can make for the perfect match. Wine and cheese simply seem to taste even better when they’re served together. Pairing the right wine with the right cheese can immediately reveal the deeper layers of both, opening up their more complex flavors and aromas.
Matching wines and cheeses is an art, one that requires a bit of knowledge and attention and one that, if done well, can create a heavenly tasting experience. When both compliment each other, without one dominating the other, it’s a pure harmony of flavors for the palate. That’s why it’s crucial that any wine chosen to accompany a cheese must be able exalt the flavors of the cheese itself establishing a sort of balance between the two.
A general rule to follow when looking for the best wine and cheese pairing is to consider that the greater the structure of the cheese being served the greater the body of the wine accompanying it should be. So a medium-aged cheese goes well with a fuller bodied red, while a Parmigiano Reggiano matches nicely with a wine that is well-structured and robust.
Soft cheeses, those which are creamy and fresh, need wines which are aromatic and softer, usually a white or rosé makes an ideal choice here. This is why Italian buratta pairs so well with a Chardonnay, why a cheese made from raw goat’s milk tastes so good with a classic white Soave and why an Italian robiola finds its perfect match in a crisp, dry Fiano di Avellino or a Cortese del Gavi Docg.
Other cheeses which are more aromatic and present stronger flavors, such as gorgonzola, find their perfect balance with the sweet spicy notes of a wine like a Passito. In fact, when it comes to cheeses that are sharper and more robust, like veined cheeses, a good choice often falls on a wine that is sweet like a dessert wine. This is because the softness of the wine along with its structure and level of alcohol balance out the characteristics of these particular cheeses. In alternative, go for a robust red that is also soft but with a higher volume of alcohol.
If choosing a salty Italian Pecorino Toscano consider pairing it with a classic Chianti, and matching a rich Pecorino Sardo with a red Cannonau. When serving a smooth fontina from the Valle d’Aosta region works perfectly with a spumante from the Franciacorta.
Mastering the art of creating the ideal wine and cheese pairing can make for a spectacular flavor combination. Get it right, and tasting magic can happen.