Fonterra Food Services
resources : Professional Advice
Matching Cheese with Wine
No rules
There are no "rules" in pairing cheese and wines, and much depends on personal likes and dislikes.
Good cheese and wine pairings take some thought, and it's important to consider both the wine and the cheese's texture and flavour profiles before making final selections.
Remember not to overpower one with the other.
Similarities between cheese and wine
Wine and cheese have much in common. Both are products of fermentation and can be consumed while fresh, simple and young or when aged and matured.
Matching wine and cheese can be a difficult process. A very strong cheese can mask the flavour of wine and a big, heavy red wine can kill the delicate flavour of a fine cheese.
The aim is to obtain a certain harmony between the cheese and wine, rather than either the cheese or wine overwhelming each other. The best way to determine which wine to match with your cheese is to try it.
Helpful hints
* The harder the cheese, the higher the degree of tannin a wine can have.
* Creamy cheeses require a wine with higher acidity.
* The whiter and fresher the cheese, the crisper and fruitier the wine.
* Heavy rich cheeses will partner with light reds and chardonnay.
* Strong veined cheeses usually demand a sweeter wine.
* Soft cheeses with bloomy white or red dotted rinds need full bodied whites or younger reds with lower tannins.
* Orange-red rind soft cheeses pair well with full-bodied reds with lower tannins or heavy whites.
* Semi-soft cheeses with a pink-grey rind require strong powerful whites and mature whites.
Points to bear in mind
1. Keep pairings simple
Pick one distinct wine and one distinct cheese that pair well. For example, full-flavoured cheeses like creamy washed rind cheeses require medium to full-bodied wines such as merlot, zinfandel or syrah. Likewise, pair light cheeses with light wines such as rieslings, pinot gris or pinot noir.
2. Pair according to area of origin
Pair wine and cheese according to the area of origin or even the local region. Just as the growing conditions impart particular characteristics (called "terroir") to a region's wines, these same characteristics may be imparted to the cheeses through the vegetation on which the animals graze.
3. Do not limit selection to still table wines
Branch out and try sparkling wines, late harvest and sweet wines, as well as fortified wines such as sherries and ports. Blue cheeses pair particularly well with dessert wines such as late harvest viogniers and rieslings and muscat wines. Creamy cheeses pair well with sparkling wines and Champagne, as the bubbles help to cleanse the palate and refresh it for another bite.
4. Explore cheeses based on milk type
For example, fresh goat cheeses are mild, lemony, and somewhat acidic in their flavour profiles and creamy in texture. They pair well with crisp white wines like sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, pinot gris and especially riesling. Aged cow's milk cheddars go well with sherries.
5. Beers also go well with cheese
Remember that wines aren't the only beverages that go well with cheese! There's an ever-growing number of artisan and craft beers, as well as craft ciders available that create interesting and fresh flavour combinations, which can also inspire you to experiment and broaden your culinary experience. Fruit driven beers work very well.
6. Wine matches cheese fashion
Great cheeses are excellent on their own and do not need others to confuse their flavours. Don't be afraid to serve only one cheese with a great bread, fresh pears or naturally dried stone fruit or fruit pastes. Stay away from crackers when presenting solo, as the texture detracts from the cheese.

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