How to pair artisan cheese with wine

How to pair artisan cheese with wine
Some things in life just go together. Like milk and cookies, Simon & Garfunkel and of course, cheese and wine. You might consider yourself to be a cheese lover, but you can take your enjoyment of our hand selected cheeses to a new level by learning how to pair artisan cheese with wine.

We’re passionate about artisan cheese and want you to enjoy it to the fullest, which is why we recommend that if you like wine, you choose wisely to ensure you get the most from the taste, aroma and texture of the cheeses we hand select to go into our subscription boxes. If you’ve got the wine, but need the cheese to go with it, or have ordered one of our cheese boxes and want to make sure you select the best wines to complement our artisan cheese selection, read on for tips and guidance on pairing wine and cheese.

The science behind cheese and wine pairing

There are several reasons why wine and cheese complement each other so well and without getting too embroiled in the complexities, it may aid your enjoyment to know a little more about the science behind this classic combo:

  • Balance - wine has sugar, cheese has salt and the two balance each other out.
  • Enhancement - the fats in cheese and the acid in wine perfectly complement each other to enhance the overall flavor profile.
  • Digestion - wine helps to denature the proteins in cheese, breaking them down into elemental amino acids which are easier for the body to absorb and digest.

The questions you need to ask when pairing cheese and wine

  1. How intense is your cheese or wine? Does it have a big, bold personality or is it more subtle and delicate? Determining the ‘size’ of your cheese will enable you to pair it with a wine of similar nature. In general, intense, strong cheeses work well with bold wines - such as an aged gouda or mature cheddar with a Cabernet Sauvignon. Whereas, delicate cheeses such as Gruyere or Comte, work well with a lighter Pinot Noir

  2. What is the aroma, flavor and texture of your cheese? Knowing the profile of your cheese enables you to either pair it with something similar or contrast for an equally enjoyable experience. For example, if your cheese is buttery and rich with an oaky or nutty aroma you might choose to pair it with a buttery Chardonnay to complement the flavors and aromas. Or, if you have a creamy, sticky cheese such as Camembert, Brie or Cremont you might like to know that sparkling wines make the perfect companion due to their acidity and carbonation which contrast well and cleanse the palate.

  3. Where is your cheese or wine from? There’s a principle in cheese and wine pairing that simply says ‘what grows together goes together’ and it’s one of the simplest rules to follow when finding the perfect wine to accompany your artisan cheese. Trust in local traditions by pairing wine and cheese from the same region. For example, Manchego with Rioja or Goat Cheese with Sauvignon Blanc.

How do you know you’ve got a successful pairing?

Ultimately there are no exact rules, so if you enjoy a certain cheese with a certain wine then who is to say it is wrong? If, on the other hand, you are struggling to find the perfect wine and cheese pairing, you can make sure you tick all the boxes below:

  • Match the size - bold cheeses with bold wines, delicate cheeses with subtle wines.
  • Ensure complementary aromas - smell them separately to see if they work well together
  • Get a good balance - salty and sweet, savory and fruity and ensure that your combination is not overly acidic.

Tips to enjoy your wine and cheese pairing

To help you get the most from your enjoyment of wine and artisan cheese, here are just a few tips we’ve put together:

  • Make sure you serve your wine and cheese at the right temperature. As a guideline serve:
    • Champagne cold
    • Riesling and Gewurztraminer colder than other white wines
    • White wines chilled
    • Red wine a little cooler than room temperature
    • Cheese at room temperature
  • Savor the flavors of both items separately before enjoying them together. Taste the wine first on a neutral palate, then clear the palate (by eating a little bread or drinking some water) and then taste the cheese. Bring the two together and allow them to mingle in your mouth, enhancing the separate flavors and aromas and combining them into one amazing experience.
  • Don’t rush. Wait for the flavors to intensify and finish. Just like a good wine, a good cheese will have a beginning, middle and end, starting with the aroma, through to the texture and finally the taste as it interweaves with the wine in your mouth.
  • Refresh your palate with bread and water in between tasting pairings, to allow the taste buds to start again from fresh.
  • Don’t just stick with one pairing, experiment with new flavors and textures to enable you to get the most enjoyment from cheese and expand your palate.

If all this talk of cheese and wine has whetted your appetite, follow the links to view this month’s Classic or Signature collections and don’t forget you can enjoy our cheeses on a monthly subscription for as long as you want!