Wine and cheese pairing can be tricky. Cheese dominates the taste buds, while wine can be affected by the wrong cheese. Follow these guidelines: Hard-aged cheeses pair well with high-tannin wines, creamy cheeses with high-acidity wines, and salty cheeses with sweeter wines. When in doubt, start by pairing similar intensities.
When choosing pairings, consider texture, intensity, acidity, sweetness, and intentions. Take into account your goal for the cheese: whether it's a stand alone meal, an appetizer, a snack, or more. For appetizers, plan on 2 ounces of cheese per person. Serve cheese at room temperature to release flavor complexities. Let it sit unwrapped for 30-60 minutes or longer for larger pieces.
When showcasing a cheese plate, focus on two to four centerpiece cheeses and choose matching accouterments and beverages. Cheese can be enjoyed on its own or simply with a knife. Alternatively, for a more flavorful and substantial experience, complement your cheeses with dried fruits, fresh fruits, nuts, spreads, honey, or aged meats.
With a Meal
When serving cheese with a meal, choose older, saltier cheeses before the meal to whet the appetite. Save younger, creamy cheeses for after the meal or as a dessert substitute. Select milder cheeses that do not overpower the main dish.
Wine & Cheese Pairings:
- Dried fruits like figs and apples are a great alternative to fresh fruits.
- Roasted and salted nuts work well on a cheese plate.
- Spreads like chutney, jams, and jellies are good with younger and aged cheeses, especially savory flavors.
- Honey pairs surprisingly well with nutty hard aged cheeses.
- Subtle, well-aged meats like Italian salamis and prosciutto can complement cheese.
- Fresh fruits can be a palette cleanser between cheese types, but be cautious when pairing with wine to avoid overpowering flavors and increased bitterness.
- For more detailed information, check out Janet Fletcher's book "Cheese & Wine.