Wine & Cheese Simplified: 5 No-Fail Pairings — Wine 101
Nothing makes for quite as perfect an appetizer as a good cheese and a good wine, an appeal that has a lot to do with simplicity (pop the cork, set out the cheese — voila!). Light, easy and delicious, it’s no wonder the pairing of wine and cheese is on our go-to list for entertaining.
A lot of people will try to tell you how to enjoy your cheese and wine. Before we delve into the ways of cheese pairing, let’s just get one thing straight: the best cheese and wine pairing is always the one you like the best. If you love goat cheese with a red wine, go for it — and don’t let anyone dissuade you. At the same time, if you’re open to experimenting with cheese and wine pairings, check out the following list for some tips on making your cheese and wine pairings a hit!
Goat Cheese and Sauvignon Blanc
Goat cheese, which is often a bit on the tart side, and Sauvignon Blanc is a great pairing that’s become a bit of a go-to for many wine drinkers.
Why it works: This is a classic, complementary pairing. Both the goat cheese (Chevre in particular) and Sauvignon Blanc are lighter bodied, high acid selections.
How to make the most of it: Bruschetta. Chevre is a lovely cheese, but it can easily get lost in complicated preparations or have the acid cooked out of it. Prepare bruschetta with a schmear of Chevre to really enhance the flavors of the wine and cheese.
Sauternes and Roquefort
Here’s another famous pairing: Sauternes, a sweet French wine, paired with Roquefort, a blue cheese made from sheep’s milk. On a crisp fall night, this is a good, hearty snacking choice.
Why it works: The sweetness of the wine versus the saltiness of the cheese. Both tend to be fairly creamy in texture, creating a bridge that unites the two in harmony.
How to make the most of it: Roquefort Blue Cheese Dressing. Salads are a good meal anytime, but sometimes you want something big and bold. This is the perfect opening for a lovely Roquefort dressing, perhaps to top a nice grilled chicken salad with spicy greens.
Wines to try: Sauternes can be a bit much at times. You can get much the same effect by reaching for something a bit less sweet from Bordeaux, say a nice Loupiac, one of Sauternes lesser known siblings! Try it with a light chill.
Parmigiano and Lambrusco
Both Parmigiano and Lambrusco come from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The region was recently hit by a series of earthquakes, so even though this pairing is worthy of recommendation all on its own, there is a humanitarian aspect to supporting the farmers.
Why it works: A slightly off-dry example of Lambrusco (the classic style) will lend to salty complementing sweet in this pairing.
How to make the most of it: Big chunks of cheese. Lambrusco and antipasto are a match made in heaven. Add in some salty olives and salumi, and chill two bottles of Lambrusco or more if you’re inviting guests. Perfect!
Wines to try: Dry Lambrusco is the current craze, but there remains a place for a lovely, lightly sweet version to wash down these salty snacks.
Feta and Assyrtiko
While not a combination you typically find, a nice feta cheese will pair well with Assyrtiko, an acidic Greek wine.
Why it works: Both of these Greek delights are silky and salty. The real excitement comes from the clash of creamy feta with the incisive cut of Assyrtiko’s minerality and acidity.
How to make the most of it: Chiles Rellenos. The feta explodes in a chile rellenos recipe and the slightly smoky, piquant nature of a freshly roasted poblano goes crazy with Assyrtiko. Add some epazote for an even more authentic dish.
Wines to try: Assyrtiko — there’s not really a substitute.
Brie and White Burgundy
Why it works: Brie has a fine butter nature enhanced by the subtly funky crust of mold that supports it. White Burgundy also often has a bit of butteriness that complements the cheese very well. Perfectly, in fact.
How to make the most of it: Bake that Brie. A nice wheel of baked Brie is great. It’s easy — just use prepared crescent roll dough. Festive and delicious! Top it with nuts or fruit, as is traditionally done, or pave a brave new path and slather it with sun-dried tomato spread or something equally fun.
Wines to try: You need a partner who can follow the Brie, not lead, so look for something simple and soft, like the gooey edges of the cheese.
– Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth.com
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