What Makes a Good Wine and Cheese Pairing?

When choosing a wine and cheese pairing, many people have a few go-to staples–usually a classic red wine with a simple cheese. When making a good wine and cheese pairing, both flavor profiles must balance one another out well. As a rule of thumb, sweet wines call for funkier cheeses, while fatty, creamy cheeses taste best when paired with a sharp or acidic wine.

Let’s take a look at the main categories of cheese and discuss which wine varieties create the most delicious and interesting combinations.  

Hard Cheese

Wine Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon

The most popular examples of hard cheeses include cheddar, Colby, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and provolone. These pair well with a medium-bodied wine. Hard cheeses typically have a fattiness that pair well with the mouth-drying tannins in cabernet sauvignon, yet as a team, they do not drown each other out.

Soft Cheese

Wine Pairing: Pinot Noir

Soft cheeses can range from a semi-soft rinded variety like brie to a simple cream cheese spread. Pair these with a fruity, red wine like pinot noir. Fruity wines are a good match for the nutty flavors of softer cheeses. If you’d like to be a bit more daring, try champagne. The higher acidity and bubbles of champagne cut through the thick creaminess of soft cheeses in a very pleasing way.  

Blue Cheese

Wine Pairing: Moscato

Love them or hate them, blue cheeses like Roquefort and gorgonzola are a complex and creamy favorite on charcuterie boards. Your wine pairing should be sweet to counteract the heavy, funkiness of these cheeses. Pair blue cheese varieties with a sweet wine such as Moscato or Gewurztraminer.

Goat Cheese or Feta Cheese

Wine Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc

Cheeseboards will often include goat cheese, feta, or cheeses with hints of garlic and herbs. These cheeses carry an earthy flavor, and the citrusy flavors of Sauvignon Blanc pair well. The acidity of the wine also cuts through the heaviness for a smooth finish.

When you are considering a new wine pairing, remember it’s all about balance. You want flavors that nicely complement each other. Pair bold, strong flavors with something lighter or dryer. Pick a sweet sipper to cut through a rich, creamy cheese.

Finally, consider the adage, “If it grows together, it goes together.” For example, Spanish wines will often pair well with Spanish cheese and French reds perfectly complement a French cheeseboard.

At Infusion Spiral, we are passionate about flavor profiles and trying something new. For more wine tips and ideas, check out the Infusion Spiral blog page.