Some Wine and Cheese Pairings That Work

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Wine and cheese pairs so well. As we learned last time, the proteins and fats in cheese help to tame the tannin in red wines and creamy soft white cheeses tend to balance the bold acidity that can be found in white wines.

But, not all cheeses work with all wines. While I certainly encourage you to enjoy your favorite cheeses with your wine, here are few general guidelines that might help enhance your enjoyment.

With medium to full-bodied red wines (e.g., Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel) you're going to want cheeses that will stand up to their bigger flavors. Some cheeses that work include aged Cheddar, smoked Gouda, Monterey Jack, Manchego and Edam.

With a lighter red wines (e.g., Pinot Noir, Gamy, Rosé) consider Gruyère, Fontina, Provolone and even Swiss.

And, with white wines and sparkling wines, try Jarlsberg, Mozzarella, Chèvre (goat cheese), Feta, Ricotta, Asiago, Brie and Camembert.

Some cheeses that often show up on platters are those in the Blue Cheese family (Cambozola, Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Stilton). While these cheeses do have bold flavors, they actually work best with dessert wines such as Port.

So, if nothing else, just put bigger, bolder cheeses with bigger bolder red wines, and use the lighter and creamier cheeses with white wines. But, most of all, enjoy the countless pairing opportunities. Cheers!


Why Wine and Cheese Pair So Well

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Wine and cheese. They just go together. But, there's actually a pretty good reason that this pairing typically works together so well.

Let's start with red wines.  They can be rather tannic due to the stems, seeds and stems of the grapes. Tannin is also introduced into red wines from the oak barrels that are so commonly used for aging. All this tannin, especially in young red wines, can leave your mouth with a dry, chalky feeling. This astringent sensation, on its own, isn't a good one.

This same astringency is also found in strongly brewed black tea. And, a common practice is to add just of splash of milk to tea to soften this astringency.

It turns out that the proteins and fats in milk work wonders in your mouth to balance out the tannin in strong tea.

Well, the same goes for astringent or tannic red wine.  Not the milk part, but the proteins and fats contained in cheese act to balance out the tannins in red wines. They just work together!

Cheeses also work well with white wines. But, not in conjunction with tannin. White wines have little to no tannin. They can have bold acidity. And, that acidity yields a mouth-watering sensation which can be very refreshing. But when a creamy soft white cheese is paired with the acidic notes in white wines, it balances things out.

Now, not every cheese works with every wine. But, we'll take a closer look at that topic next time.  Until then, enjoy some nice cheese with your glass of wine. They work together so well. Cheers!